Your legal secretary salary will vary due to a number of factors. Among these are the level of your legal secretary training, which state you work in, and which industry you find employment in. The rates for legal secretary salary have a wide range, and it is difficult to say for sure how much money you will make. However, this page will give you a basic guide detailing the average legal secretary salary, some of the things you can do to improve it, and where to find the highest paying jobs.
How Much do Legal Secretaries Make?
Right now, the national average legal secretary annual salary is $44,310. However, the legal secretary salary range can dip as low as $26,000 or reach as high as $66,000. As stated, several things including your location and education level can play a large role in deciding how much you will make. Depending on the size of the state and the demand for legal support professionals, your legal secretary salary rate could vary. For instance, California and New York employ the most legal secretaries in the nation but their average legal secretary salary ranks behind the relatively smaller Washington DC area. Currently, the states with the highest average legal secretary salaries are:
|Hourly Wage||Annual Salary|
|State||Lowest 10%||Highest 10%||Lowest 10%||Highest 10%|
As you can see, all of these states have a legal secretary salary higher than the national average.
Legal Secretary Salary by City
Where you live within a state can also determine your legal secretary salary. The following is a list of the top paying metropolitan areas for legal secretaries in America. Just as the paralegal salary rates were highest for those in San Francisco, the City by the Bay tops the list for legal secretary salary ranges as well. As would be expected, legal secretaries in larger urban areas are expected to command a higher salary than their rural counterparts.
|Hourly Wage||Annual Salary|
|City||Lowest 10%||Highest 10%||Lowest 10%||Highest 10%|
|San Francisco, CA||$21.53||$44.06||$44,780||$91,640|
|San Jose, CA||$20.99||$44.02||$43,670||$91,560|
|New York, NY||$17.11||$37.08||$35,580||$77,120|
|Santa Cruz, CA||$23.40||$28.73||$48,660||$59,770|
Legal Secretary Salary by Industry
The type of industry you work in can affect how much your legal secretary salary will be just as much as your location, if not more. Almost 87% of legal secretaries are employed at law firms or other legal service professions, earning an annual wage of $44,540 on average. When you factor in local and state governments, this figure rises to 95%. However there are a few outlying industries with much higher legal secretary salary rates.
|Natural Gas Distribution||$68,030|
|Securities and Commodities Contract||$58,470|
|Navigational Control Instruments||$57,600|
|Patent and Trademark Rights||$57,040|
Keep in mind, there are very few legal secretaries who work in these high paying fields. With lots of experience and training, you may secure a job in the legal department of a major corporation. However, most legal secretaries start out by working for an attorney or small law firm. Read more about the legal secretary job description to find out which type of industry you are most interested in working in.
How to Improve Your Legal Secretary Salary
Legal secretaries have several options if they are interested in increasing their chances of a higher legal secretary salary. First and foremost, enrolling in an accredited education program is the best way to improve your salary. By earning a certificate or degree from an accredited legal secretary training program, employers will know you have the skills and knowledge to perform the job.
Another option for improving your salary is to seek a legal secretary certification. Becoming certified is a way of establishing that your skill set meets the standard for legal secretary proficiency. Legal secretary salaries often increase when a candidate has proven certification. There are two main organizations offering certification for legal secretaries.
- National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) – In addition to paralegal certification options, the NALS also offers two forms of legal secretary designations. The Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) and the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) are both available to legal support professionals after one year experience in the field or graduation from an approved training program. Check with enrollment officials to see if your program qualifies for NALS certification.
- Legal Secretaries International (LSI) – The Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) is available for those with five years experience in legal areas such as civil litigation, intellectual property, probate, criminal law, and business law.
Ask you legal secretary training program if you would like more information about certification programs. They may offer career services to help you prepare for certification exams, draft your resume, and more.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.