Not all certified credit counselors work exclusively as credit counselors. People with credit counseling certifications can be found in a variety of fields and industries, from banking and real estate to nonprofits and government agencies.
But what about paralegals? Are there paralegals who are also credit counselors?
The short answer is: Yes! The long answer is: Becoming a credit counselor is the right choice for some paralegals, but not all.
Paralegals act as a type of legal assistant. They prepare documents, perform research and write reports. They complete a wide range of legal tasks for law firms, corporate offices and other organizations. However, like credit counselors, paralegals aren’t allowed to perform any duties considered to be practicing law.
A credit counseling certification is the right choice for certain paralegals. At the National Association of Certified Credit Counselors, we recommend getting certified in credit counseling to several types of paralegals:
- Bankruptcy Paralegals
- Real Estate Paralegals
- Legal Technicians
- Freelance or Independent Paralegals
- Disability Paralegals
Bankruptcy paralegals assist clients who may be facing bankruptcy. They work with clients dealing with large amounts of debt and educate them about the different types of bankruptcy.
A credit counseling certification provides bankruptcy paralegals with the skills needed to approach and educate clients on bankruptcy in a concise, genuine and empathetic way. Credit counseling know-how will also help bankruptcy paralegals answer additional client questions or empower them with the best strategies for approaching debt.
Note: A credit counselor should never practice law unless they are a licensed attorney. A credit counselor can educate clients on bankruptcy options, but should never make a legal recommendation.
Real Estate Paralegals
This type of paralegal works in real estate. A real estate paralegal may analyze documents, review contracts or prepare deeds.
Those working for real estate firms will find a credit counseling certification helpful when guiding clients on raising their credit scores and helping them navigate the complexity of a mortgage. Clients may ask questions about credit that fall outside the traditional expertise of a real estate professional. A real estate paralegal with a credit counseling certification may also assist their clients with spending plans and the other necessary skills required to make housing dreams a reality.
Legal technicians are licensed professionals who are allowed to provide legal advice in a legal capacity, and are often described as being somewhere between a paralegal and a lawyer. If a legal technician is frequently working with clients struggling with debt, bankruptcy, foreclosure or similar issues, they may find the additional knowledge from a credit counseling certification useful when advising clients.
Independent and Freelance Paralegals
Becoming a certified credit counselor is especially helpful for independent or freelance paralegals looking to expand their business and offer new services. Offering additional services in credit counseling may generate new interest and attract more clients. A professional who can assist in both law and personal finance is a valuable resource for clients.
Those with disabilities often have difficulty navigating disability law, banking, personal finance, and credit. Their disability frequently makes it difficult to maintain steady and reliable employment. A disability paralegal with a certification in credit counseling could serve as an excellent resource for a disabled person, and may serve the additional bonus of being a time-saver for those with mobility issues who have difficulty traveling to professional offices.
The recent availability of new bank accounts designed for disabled people has increased the demand for professionals who can assist disabled people with personal finance.
Job Growth Comparison: Paralegals vs. Credit Counselors
It is helpful to compare the two professions separately before making a decision. In the chart below, we compare the projected job growth and median salaries of the two jobs.
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||Median Salary (2015)|
Information collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Credit counseling has a 7% higher projected job growth and a slightly higher median salary (making just $500 more than paralegals). A paralegal with a certification in credit counseling is likely to find additional job security as they navigate their career. They can also use their certification to negotiate a higher salary or additional responsibilities.
Overall, any paralegal who frequently works with clients struggling with debt or financial issues will find they can expand their skills and services with a credit counselor certification. This includes the paralegals mentioned above, but could also include government paralegals, consumer paralegals, or employment paralegals.
It should also be noted that as the student debt crisis continues to grow, there are an increasing number of law firms and paralegals specializing in student loan debt. These professionals would certainly find credit counseling skills beneficial when helping their clients.
Paralegals and credit counselors often share the same workplaces: government agencies, law offices, community organizations, or banking and real estate businesses, so it is likely that a credit counseling certification would give most paralegals an advantage in the workplace. Obtaining a credit counselor certification shows initiative and a desire to succeed in the professional world.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Ready to get certified? View our Credit Counselor Certification.