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Online & On-Campus Paralegal Certification: Florida Programs for 2024

Are you curious about becoming a paralegal? Learn about the best paralegal schools in Florida and how to jump into this fast-growing field.

Author: Kenya McCullum
Editor: STEPS Staff

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A simplified blue silhouette map of the U.S. state of Florida, showing its distinctive panhandle and peninsula shape on a white background.

If you’re interested in law and want to make a difference in your community, then a career as a paralegal could be a good fit for you. By becoming a paralegal in Florida, you’ll play an important role in the legal system even if you don’t want to become an attorney. The paralegal profession is fast-paced and challenging, allowing you to gain expertise in different areas of law as you work alongside attorneys and clients.

Now is a great time to pursue an on-campus or online paralegal program in Florida, as paralegals are in high demand. According to Projections Central, in the coming years the profession will have a 24.9 percent increase in jobs—which amounts to 5,060 positions added annually. And once you meet the Florida paralegal requirements and land a job, you’ll earn a salary of around $56,650 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep reading to learn more about paralegal programs in Florida. You’ll find information on some of the best paralegal schools in Florida, as well as the different types of degrees available and how you can pay for your education.

Best Colleges to Earn a Paralegal Degree in Florida – Campus-Based Programs

The role of paralegals is vital to the legal profession, so it’s important that those interested in entering the field get a quality education. To help you, we put together the following spotlights of three top paralegal schools in Florida based on their quality, affordability, and accreditation. Continue reading to find out what these standout schools offer. Plus stay tuned, because soon we’ll release our full 2024 rankings of paralegal schools in Florida.

College of Central Florida

When you enroll in the paralegal associate degree program at the College of Central Florida, you get a view of what’s expected of paralegals from those who know best—attorneys who work with these professionals on a daily basis. The coursework at this paralegal school in Florida covers topics such as business communications, legal research and writing, office administration, and litigation procedures. Also, students can choose from a variety of electives, such as customer service, payroll accounting, and database management systems. After completing the program, you’ll be qualified to take the Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant Exam, which is provided by the National Association of Legal Assistants, as well as the Florida Certified Paralegal Exam. Graduates can also go on to earn a Florida Registered Paralegal credential from The Florida Bar once they’ve worked in the field for four years.

The College of Central Florida charges $112.92 per credit for state residents and $438.20 for out-of-state students.

Delivery:
  • On Campus
  • Full-time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies

Seminole State College of Florida

The Seminole State College of Florida paralegal associate degree gives students the option to take coursework on campus or online. The program at this paralegal school in Florida takes about five semesters, after which students have the skills and knowledge to draft legal documents, conduct research, interview clients and witnesses, and maintain trial notebooks. To help students gain these skills, specific coursework covers fundamentals of law, legal research and writing, law office management and technology, and civil litigation. All classes are small, with no more than 30 students, so every student gets the individualized attention that makes the learning experience effective.

Also, students are required to complete general education coursework, including classes in speech communication, algebra, and psychology. To wrap up their studies, students complete an internship, where they bring classroom concepts to a real-world work setting.

Delivery:
  • Online
  • On-Campus
  • Full-time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate in Science, Legal Assistant/Paralegal

Valencia College

Valencia College offers an associate degree program that allows paralegals in training to choose a litigation or transactional specialization. Those who focus their studies on litigation take an advanced course in which they learn how paralegals assist their employers throughout the life of a case, including the discovery, trial, and appellate stages. Also, students become familiar with the laws related to litigation, such as the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the Florida Appellate Rules, and the Florida Rules of Summary Procedure.

Those in the transactional specialization learn advanced real property legal concepts and practical applications. Specific topics covered in the coursework include landlord/tenant laws, real estate financing, and settlements and closing. In addition, the concentration stresses the Florida Probate Code, giving students an understanding of wills and trusts.

Students in both concentrations are required to take courses in legal research and theory, legal technology, and business law.

Delivery:
  • On-Campus
  • Full-time
Undergraduate Programs:
  • Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies
Specialization Options:
  • Litigation
  • Transactional

Top Online Paralegal Degree Programs in Florida

If you’re concerned that your busy schedule may preclude you from going back to school, then an online paralegal program in Florida is the answer. Depending on the program, you may be able to study partially or entirely online, which provides the convenience you need and saves you money. The following is a look at some of the top online paralegal degree programs in the state, so you can get an idea of what’s available. Keep in mind that this is just a preview; to review more schools, be sure to come back for our full list of the best online paralegal programs in Florida.

Florida International University

Florida International University offers a paralegal certificate that takes one year, allowing graduates to step into the workforce quickly. During their studies, students take coursework on legal research and writing, concepts in the legal system, and civil procedures. Additionally, students learn about different types of law they may encounter during their career, such as criminal, family, constitutional, real estate, and tort law. Courses at this online paralegal program in Florida are taught by knowledgeable and skilled attorneys and judges who draw on their own experiences to provide students with a look at real-world legal issues.

Florida International University charges per semester. During the first semester the tuition is$2,495, and then in the subsequent two semesters the rate is$2,300. The entire program is delivered online.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Paralegal Certificate
Program Options:
  • Full-time
  • Fully-Online

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida offers an online paralegal certification program created by paralegals, lawyers, and judges to ensure students get the skills employers need in various work settings. The program is a good choice for those already working full time because students complete the online coursework at their own pace. As they work through their classes, students are assigned to an instructor who serves as a mentor and facilitator. So although students work when it’s most convenient for them, they’re never alone as they learn. In addition, students are given all the resources they need to succeed, including subscriptions to Lexis and Westlaw, access to writing labs, interactive online support, and customized tests.

Also, the University of South Florida offers specialty certificates for those who have completed the school’s general paralegal program or have worked in the field and want to focus on a particular area. Students complete concentrations in areas such as bankruptcy, elder, healthcare, immigration, and personal injury law.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Paralegal certificate
  • Paralegal specialty certificate
Program Options:
  • Full-time
  • Fully-Online

Florida Gulf Coast University

Students who want a convenient way to incorporate their studies into their busy lives can enroll in the Florida Gulf Coast University paralegal certificate program. Students have one year to complete the curriculum and are able to finish at their own pace, so they have the flexibility to work during the best times for them. Throughout this online paralegal program in Florida, students can receive support anytime they need it, such as access to advisors and assistance with the online platform.

The curriculum covers topics such as legal interviewing, paralegal employment, legal writing, business law, and legal research. To help students plan for the certification test, there’s also a NALA Certified Paralegal Exam preparation class. Additionally, a capstone course is required so students receive hands-on training that prepares them for the realities of working in a busy legal environment.

Undergraduate Programs:
  • Paralegal Certificate
Program Options:
  • Part-time
  • Fully Online

Types of Paralegal Degrees You Can Earn in Florida

Whether you choose to complete a program online or on campus, you’ll discover different types of paralegal certifications in Florida, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your goals and the education you’ve already completed. Below we take a look at those paralegal degrees and provide information on the paralegal schools in Florida that offer them.

Undergraduate Paralegal Degrees in Florida

Paralegal Associate Degrees

During two-year paralegal associate degree programs, students learn the nuts and bolts of working in the profession as they gain a broad understanding of legal concepts and meet Florida paralegal requirements. Students graduate with important skills such as how to conduct legal research, manage a law office, and interpret and report on legal documents. Also, associate degree programs emphasize the importance of adhering to the ethical standards that guide paralegal work.

Accredited Florida Colleges with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

A paralegal bachelor’s degree is for those who want to sharpen their skills and increase their expertise so they can better meet the needs of the legal community. In addition to taking courses that focus on a specific practice area, students learn more advanced legal research, analysis, interviewing, and writing methods as they work toward meeting Florida paralegal requirements. Courses may also cover legal ethics and law office computing.

Accredited Florida Colleges with a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies

Certificate Programs

A paralegal certificate program, which takes one year to complete, lays the foundation for students to meet Florida paralegal requirements and enter the field. During their studies students take coursework that covers paralegal essentials, including the writing and office skills needed to get their first paralegal job. Also, students become familiar with paralegal procedures, as well as legal concepts related to contract, criminal, and business law.

Accredited Florida Colleges with Paralegal Certificate Programs

Paying for Your Paralegal Degree in Florida

Although many paralegal schools in Florida are affordable, most students are still concerned about how they’re going to pay for their education. As with other education programs, financial aid opportunities are available as you work through Florida paralegal requirements. You can receive scholarships, loans, and grants from multiple sources, such as the school you attend, state and federal governments, and law firms. Also, professional paralegal associations provide funding to support those interested in entering this field. For example, the Paralegal Association of Florida offers scholarships of up to $500.

For more information about the financing options paralegal students have, review our financial aid and scholarship guides.

Salary & Growth for Paralegal Grads in Florida

The job outlook is good, so after completing a program at a paralegal school in Florida, you’ll have many opportunities to choose from. The projections for specific areas of Florida differ depending on the location. For example, FloridaCommerce reports that by 2030, there will be 14.7 percent growth in paralegal jobs in Sarasota County, 26.3 percent in Orange County, and 16 percent in Miami-Dade County.

As with job projections, salaries vary by location. Those in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach areas make $59,360 annually, Tallahassee paralegals make $50,050, and professionals in Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford make $53,550.

Sources: Projections Central; Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida Paralegal Professional and Student Resources

  • Central Florida Paralegal Association
    To promote high standards among local paralegals, the Central Florida Paralegal Association offers several resources, including social activities and meetings for members, newsletters, and continuing legal education. Also, members have access to a job referral service and professional development services.
  • Northwest Florida Paralegal Association
    The Northwest Florida Paralegal Association has the mission of promoting the field through education and awareness. To do this, the organization provides seminars and other events.
  • Paralegal Association of Florida
    Since 1976, the Paralegal Association of Florida has represented the needs of paralegals around the state. Students join the organization if they’re enrolled in an accredited paralegal program and taking at least six credits of law-related coursework.
  • South Florida Paralegal Association
    The South Florida Paralegal Association offers continuing education, membership meetings, and seminars designed to empower members of the field. The organization is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.
  • Southwest Florida Paralegal Association
    The Southwest Florida Paralegal Association has been working to build a strong community of paralegals since its inception in 1997. Member benefits include access to a job bank and continuing education courses.