It’s important to recognize your degree’s ROI. Let’s create a scenario. Pretend you’re pursuing a paralegal or legal assistant degree. One of the schools you’re considering for this degree is Herzing University in Atlanta, which costs $14,200 per year.
To earn a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to spend four years at this college before you earn your undergraduate degree. The total cost is $56,800. Tuition is the same whether you’ve lived in the state or not (out-of-state and in-state tuition is the same). Is this degree worth earning from Herzing? Let’s look at the average salary median to help answer that question.
The national average salary median for this degree is $44,670. The job growth averages for careers you qualify for with this degree is 8%, and the state with the highest average salary median is New Jersey in the Trenton metro area. If most areas of the country pay ~$45,000 on average to someone with this degree, is the university cost worth it? Remember that most of your salary goes to rent, and student loan payments consume a large portion of your paychecks. Plus, is $45K enough to survive in most cities?
There’s another factor we haven’t considered: degree level. Do you need an Associate’s degree? A Bachelor’s? A Master’s? For example, you’d need the equivalent of a legal doctorate degree (usually a Juris Doctorate) to be hired as a lawyer. Common jobs attainable with a paralegal/legal assistant degree usually require an Associate’s degree. This means that two years of study is required; it can drastically reduce the cost of education (from ~$56K to ~$28K). Is the university cost more valuable now?
We should also look at jobs you can attain with this degree, and the average years of experience needed. For this legal degree, two jobs are available to you. Both jobs have growth averages of 8.8%. One job usually requires no prior years of experience, while another requires at least one year of experience. According to this paralegal/legal assistant degree page (see “Job & Salary Averages” infographic above), not much prior work experience is required. You won’t need to worry about finding internships or getting work experience while earning this degree (but it’s recommended that you always gain work experience while earning any degree).
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants: Assist lawyers by investigating facts, preparing legal documents, or researching legal precedent. The nationwide salary median is $47,000, and the most required degree is an Associate’s. You can see standard job titles which fall under this job category by expanding the “Common Job Titles” dropdown menu. Do you recognize any?
- Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers: Search real estate records, examine titles, or summarize pertinent legal or insurance documents or details for a variety of purposes. The nationwide salary median is $49,000, and the most required degree is a Bachelor’s. You can also see standard job titles which fall under this job category by expanding the “Common Job Titles” dropdown menu.
For this degree, New Jersey has the highest average salary medians (see “Job & Salary Averages” infographic above). Use the “Filter Salaries” button (or the sidebar if you’re viewing the page on a computer/laptop) to show the average salaries for a particular state. In this case, you can select New Jersey in the “Filter by State” dropdown to show average salaries and salary medians for that state. You can use the “Filter by Degree Level” dropdown to only show qualified jobs and average salaries for a degree level.
Finally, you can learn which state has the best average salary median. Scroll to Average Salary Medians. View the average salary per state and metro area. We already know that New Jersey has the highest average salary median. But what about an Associate’s degree? For a Bachelor’s degree? This section lists the average salary median per degree level and per state. Let’s look at the average salary median for Georgia and which metro area offers the highest salaries for an Associate’s degree (the most required degree level for a paralegal/legal assistant – see “Most Required Degree” infographic above).
Click on “Expand Salaries” and then scroll to Georgia. Click on Georgia. You will see a list of metro areas in the state and the average salary median per each. Here, we discover that Middle Georgia has the highest average salary median in the state ($58,650). Since the university we’re considering is in Atlanta, let’s locate the Atlanta metro area. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area has an average salary median of $52,780. Hinesville and Savannah metro areas have similar average salaries. If you plan to stay in Georgia post-graduation, these are metro areas to consider finding jobs.
Consider the average salary median, average years of work experience, education costs, and types of qualified jobs. Do you think a paralegal/legal assistant degree, or your choice of university, is worth the cost? Only you can make that decision, but knowing all these factors beforehand helps you make an informed decision.
Want to research degree outcomes? Visit Doesitearn.com and explore the average salaries, average job growth, and average education costs for over 1,700 degrees.