If you are interested in becoming a paralegal in the state of Illinois, then you are likely curious about how to get started and about what the training process will be like. The training process, however, will vary from person to person, depending upon the way in which you wish to approach it. Most people simply enter into the field by pursuing an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.

These degree programs will take the average person around two years to complete. They may be completed at a traditional college or university, or more commonly, at a community college or a trade or technical school. The latter option is generally much more affordable. If you do choose to go this route, you will need to ensure that your school is fully accredited and that your program has been approved by the American Bar Association.

Today, though, in this increasingly competitive job market, more and more people are making the decision to earn their bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. While this is not necessary for being qualified to work within the field, it can greatly help your chances of standing out above the competition and securing a job.

Having a bachelor’s degree essentially makes you a better educated, more prepared employee. Again, the same regulations apply about accreditation and ABA approval. If you pursue a bachelor’s degree, you should be prepared for about four years of schooling.

Not everyone who works as a paralegal will have a degree in the field. Some people will simply hold certificates, which are obtained from approved and accredited certification programs that can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete. In order to enroll in a certification program, you will first have to have a bachelor’s degree, though it need not be in a related area.

Many colleges in Chicago, Illinois offer this type of shorter curriculum, which can get you into the career more quickly.

The majority of people who choose this path do so because they attended school and got their degrees earlier in life, before they knew they wanted to become paralegals. Others choose this option because they received a paralegal degree, but not from an ABA approved institution.

Obviously, your first step is to decide which route you want to take toward pursuing your education. Once you know this, then you can start looking at the many different schools in the state, focusing only on those that offer your program of interest. Fortunately, no matter what your decision, you will have lots of great options for schooling right in your very own state.

The College of DuPage, based in Glen Ellyn, is an excellent and very affordable option. It offers associate’s degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs, and certification programs in the field. This means that anyone who is looking to enter into the field can attend this school. There’s also the College of Lake County, located in Grayslake.

This school has a recently approved certification program and an associate’s degree program. While it doesn’t offer a bachelor’s degree program, it does have several specialty courses, which are difficult to find elsewhere. They include litigation, probate law, real property law, family law, corporate and securities law, bankruptcy law, and intellectual property law.

Another good in-state option is Elgin Community College, in Elgin. As a community college, this school is incredibly affordable. Plus, it is very focused on preparing its students for immediate employment in the field. Its hands on programs include an associate’s degree program and specially designed transfer programs, for those who know they want to earn a bachelor’s degree in the future.

These are just a few examples of Illinois schools offering excellent paralegal programs. You also have Illinois Central College, located in East Peoria; Illinois State University in Normal; Kankakee Community College; Loyola University at Chicago; and Midstate College of Peoria.

Other choices include Bridgeview’s Northwestern College, Robert Morris University at Illinois, Rockford Career College, Roosevelt University in Chicago, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, South Suburban College in South Holland, Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, and William Rainey Harper College in Palatine. Plus, in today’s times, there is always the option of attending school online, in which case you can choose from schools based all over the world.