Average Paralegal Salaries

Even though paralegals perform many of the same type of work as a licensed attorney, the paralegal salary is typically a fraction of a lawyer's salary. Paralegals provide support services to attorneys and law firms, and are typically paid a paralegal salary based on the scope of their job duties, their education level, any advanced paralegal training they have completed, and their skills. Paralegals are considered to be legal professionals, and many choose to become certified by completing an accredited paralegal certification exam.

Average Paralegal Salary

The median expected paralegal salary in the United States is $47,000. The range for paralegal salaries can be between $10,000 to $20,000 higher or lower than the average paralegal salary, and the actual salary is dependent on a number of factors including:

  • Whether the paralegal has an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field
  • How many years of experience the paralegal has acquired
  • Any advanced training or advanced certification programs the paralegal has received
  • Location of the employer
  • General job market in the area
  • Type of employer (e.g. independent attorney or a law firm)

Paralegal pay may be negotiated during the interview and hiring process, and is typically adjusted for inflation over the course of employment. Paralegals that are committed to career growth and work towards advanced certification or a master's degree in their field may be able to earn a much higher-than-average paralegal salary over the course of their careers.

Range for Paralegal Salaries

The range for paralegal salaries in the United States is from $35,000 to $60,000, as of 2011. This does not include any benefits packages, incentives or bonuses offered by the employer. For example, the median paralegal salary with a bonus would be $48,000. Paralegals may be eligible to receive bonuses and benefits packages that add between $1,000 to $5,000 or more to their baseline salary value.

Paralegal Pay Structure and Benefits

Most paralegals are paid an hourly wage or a paralegal salary, depending on the employer and their length of employment. The paralegal pay structure may include a benefits package and incentives for performance. Approximately 70 percent of paralegals work in law firms and they are required to perform a variety of administrative tasks and other duties to support their attorney, or a group of attorneys at the office.

Some of the benefits packages that are included in the paralegal pay structure may include:

  • Social Security
  • 401k plans
  • 403b plans
  • Disability
  • Healthcare
  • Pension
  • Paid time off
  • Quarterly or yearly bonuses

The base paralegal salary typically accounts for just under 30% of the paralegal pay, while the value of benefits account or about 30% of the paralegal pay package. This is consistent with similar jobs in the field.

Paralegal salaries also differ based on the paralegal position and whether the paralegal is responsible for supervising or managing others. The paralegal salary will vary widely for similar positions, such as:

  • Paralegal Manager
  • Paralegal Supervisor
  • Associate Professor - Legal Support
  • Assistant Professor - Legal Support
  • Instructor - Legal Support
  • Professor - Legal Support