A Paralegal is a person who performs work under an attorney providing support with clients, preparing legal documents, such as briefs and depositions, as well as doing legal research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for paralegals is expected to grow 17% in the next 8 years.
A bookkeeper is a person who records financial transactions such as sales and expenditures of a company. A bookkeeper is not an accountant and is not responsible for filing tax returns, yet may be responsible for monthly or quarterly filings or, preparation of, for the firm’s accountant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the demand in this field will grow 11% over the next 8 years compared to the 17% of paralegals.
Deciding which field is right for you is dependent on what you prefer. Both jobs require an attention to detail. Determining your personal strengths will help you choose properly. A bookkeeping job requires an aptitude for math while a paralegal requires an aptitude for written language.
These two professions are often chosen because of the length of time and cost required to obtain degrees in accounting or law. If you are looking for a career fast track, both bookkeeping and paralegal are good choices to get yourself into the job market faster.
The length of education required for either bookkeeping or paralegal varies and both jobs can be obtained without advanced education, but it is highly recommended, in order to be competitive in either field, to follow a formal education path.
A bookkeeper would take accounting courses as if becoming a certified public accountant and a paralegal would follow that of a law degree. Paralegals usually have an associate’s degree or certificate in paralegal studies while there is no official certification for bookkeeping.
Experience is the highest attribute of both jobs. As soon as you know which path you are taking, look for an apprenticeship in that field. It is recommended to do summer internships starting in high school to fast track yourself in either field.
The average salary of a bookkeeper is approximately $37,250 while that of a paralegal is right around $46,990.
The west coast of the US has the highest paying bookkeeping jobs with San Francisco leading for both bookkeepers and paralegals for the best paying jobs. Paralegals in general receive higher pay on the east coast.
According to Forbes, a job as a paralegal is considered relatively low-stress, and in 2011 was at the top of their list as the most underrated jobs. In 2009 Forbes article it is said accounting jobs are on the rise especially as the baby boomer generation begins to retire.
The biggest advantage of both bookkeeping and paralegal jobs is the ability to work while returning to school to obtain a degree in law or accounting. This is extremely attractive to those just starting out or looking for a career change.
● The first step to determining which field is of interest is to determine if you are a math or language person.
● Secondly, taking courses in high school that will serve your goals while seeing what is available at your local community college.
● The third step is finding experience. An internship will provide needed experience and giving you an advantage over those with education but no experience.
● Finally is determining where the jobs are and are you able to live and work there.
Bookkeeping and paralegal jobs offer flexibility to work while obtaining your degree in law or accounting and both are expected to grow over the next 8 years.