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In the legal system hierarchy, lawyers are at the top and all the other people who administer justice (such as police officers, parole officers, prison officers, paraprofessionals who assist lawyers and people who design and run security systems in big organisations) are arranged below them.

Browse Paralegal studies courses by state

Most of the courses in this field of study are designed to prepare people who are in these various occupations or those who wish to enter them. This field of study also includes courses that have emerged more recently in areas such as defence studies and terrorism.

The majority of graduates from this field are employed in the public sector. They work in the justice system, legal services, protective services and government departments, among others. Opportunities also exist in private industry and, depending on the specific area of specialisation, in independent private practice.

If you are interested in this field, you should also look at courses in law and social work. Depending on your interests and career needs, you may also find courses that appeal to you in fields as varied as business and management, education and training and humanities and social sciences.

VET study in paralegal studies

Courses and specialisations

The VET sector is the place to go if you are looking to get into many areas in the paralegal field. Advanced diplomas, diplomas and certificates are available in a wide range of specialisations, including justice studies, law enforcement, business (legal practice), legal administration, security operations and local government.

These courses will all lead directly into relevant occupations, but your job prospects will probably improve the higher up the qualifications ladder you go. A few of the specialisations available at degree level, like criminology, strategy and defence, are not offered in the VET sector.

Where to study

VET courses in this field are widely available at TAFE institutes and private VET providers, but the options for particular specialisations might be limited in each institution or location.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities

Although an increasing number of courses in paralegal sub-fields are being established at degree level, study in the VET sector is still the main ticket into many of the important paralegal occupations. Related occupations are in legal administration, security, prison corrections, law enforcement and even investigations. Careers in these areas can be very rewarding as the prospects in these fields are very positive. The range of occupations is vast, as is the list of possible workplaces. Depending on which course and career you choose, you could be bound for a law firm, a security company, a private investigations firm, or even a prison — in a good way.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Undergraduate study in paralegal studies

Courses and specialisations

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Advocacy

  • Border management

  • Civil practice

  • Criminal justice

  • Criminology

  • Forensic science

  • Justice administration

  • Juvenile justice

  • Legal studies

  • Police studies

Although courses used to be offered mainly at diploma level, many paralegal courses have been established at degree level. Some degrees are designed to provide upgraded qualifications for people already working in these occupations and are offered part time or sometimes even externally, while others are a great entry-level option for those with a keen interest for the field.

Expect to see specialisations ranging from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice studies, biosecurity and correctional studies to crime prevention, legal administration and police studies.

Entry to these courses is generally much easier than law, although the overall level of difficulty has increased over time. This may reflect the rising demand for forensics-related courses, which also fall into this category, as well as for courses like criminology, defence and terrorism.

Where to study

Although this is generally an accessible field, some specialisations may be on offer at only a few institutions (particularly if they are quite niche). However, you can find paralegal courses at both universities and at some private providers, so it shouldn't be too difficult to a find a course so suit your needs.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities

According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire survey, graduates of these courses are quite satisfied with the teaching quality and their overall course experience. At $52,959, graduate starting salaries are average. Almost 40 per cent of recent graduates were looking for full-time work when surveyed. Around 30 per cent of graduates entered further study.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in paralegal studies

Courses and specialisations

This is a small and fairly new field at postgraduate level. Postgraduate students are almost exclusively enrolled in coursework programs, although there are a limited number of research degrees, which are offered predominantly in the fields of criminology and justice studies.

Most coursework options are designed to provide career advancement opportunities for people currently working in areas such as defence strategy, law enforcement, justice, criminology, security and forensics. Entry requirements are usually modest or stated in very general terms, although some options — such as legal science, justice, criminology, security and terrorism — may require previous industry experience or a related degree.

Where to study

Paralegal programs are available at a number of universities and at some private providers. Note that not all institutions will offer all qualification levels or all specialisations. This means that it's worth shopping around for the specialisation that best suits your desired career path.

Career opportunities

According to the national Course Experience Questionnaire, graduates of these programs were very satisfied with their overall experience, the skills they gained and the teaching quality, rating all five stars. Postgraduates are also doing well in the workforce, reporting good job prospects and salaries compared to other fields — 84 per cent were able to find work within four months of course completion and the average salary was $84,466.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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