The position of a paralegal, even during the recent economic downturn, has proven to be one of the strongest growing fields in the current American job market, due to the relatively high demand for paralegals, as well as the limited need for a strong educational background required by the profession (though as competition for positions grow, a stronger background in terms of certification and training will almost certainly become necessary).
Paralegals have been around in earnest only since the 1970s, when the rise of multinational corporations as well as the growth in high volume law firms caused a systematic increase in pools of administrative employees, as well as less of a need for numerous lawyers demanding high end salaries to do very basic, niche work.
More precisely, paralegals grew in prominence as a form of salary control on behalf of the legal profession. As the rate of lawyers working in the profession topped out and the amount of legal actions increased, the needs of many firms, corporations, and government agencies to pay high salaried lawyers actually decreased substantially. Therefore, the industry found it to its advantage to relegate many of the workaday tasks, such as filing, research, and drafting to lower salaried tier of professionals: the paralegals.
Since paralegals are still a relative new occupation, there has been a minimal level of oversight and supervision of the industry, thus coming up with precise definitions of the nature of the position has been somewhat difficult. The relative lack of consistent training requirements or licensing systems for paralegals has also made it a growth positions for anyone looking to enter predominantly “white collar” industries with a relatively diminished degree of education compared to similar industries.