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Paralegal State Certification Information

Guide to paralegal state certification.

If you’re looking to enhance your career within the paralegal profession, then you’ve likely come across the topic of paralegal certification. Although obtaining state certification is not a requirement in most states to work within this profession, it’s a highly desirable trait employers seek during their hiring process. However, there is often much confusion when it comes to this dynamic and essential topic.

Perhaps the most common misconception when it comes to paralegal state certification is the difference between being certified and being certificated. While you may think these are two different words defining the same professional standing, this is inaccurate. In the most general sense, those who are certificated are those who have successfully completed an educational program where you were awarded a certificate of completion. This doesn’t make you “certified.” Rather, it simply showcases you’ve successfully completed an educational program.

On the other end of the spectrum, those who are certified have earned a passing score on a state or national certification examination. For example, earning a successful score on the National Association of Legal Assistants Paralegal Certification examination. This is vastly different than being certificated as it means you’ve clearly demonstrated an advance-level knowledge and understanding of this field of study. Once you’ve earned this certification you are now recognized as a certified paralegal. In the majority of cases, a paralegal is both certified and certificated.

According to Paralegal Certification Scoop, when it comes to state-level certification, there are several elements which make it unique; thus warranting specific attention to your local certification criteria. Unlike national certification, the eligibility requirements and topics covered in the examination can greatly vary. Generally, state-level paralegal certification covers legal topics specific for the specific state. For example, Florida will likely feature different elements than Ohio.

In some states, paralegal certification is offered directly from the state bar association. This differs from other states where accredited certifying bodies outside of the local bar association offer the examinations. There are cases where to become eligible for state certification you must also obtain a national certification.

Generally, states offer several certification options. For example, in the state of Georgia paralegals have two certifications they may complete. Each certification features different eligibility requirements. The first of these is for entry-level professionals or those who are just beginning their career as a paralegal. This certification is known as the Paralegal Core Competency Examination, or the PCC.

The second certificate offered by Georgia is the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination, or PACE. This is the ideal certification for those who have work experience as well as a previous national or state-level certification. In general, most states offer varying degrees of certifications based upon your experience and education level.

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