I think being a paralegal is a great career opportunity. Paralegals who are well trained can earn in the low six figures before bonuses.
Demand is really unimortant. Cream rises to the top of the cup. Likewise an assistant who is smart, hard working and dedicated will soon find not only employment but top employment. Legal search firms can help you find a job especially after you have had a little experience either as an intern or as a employee in a local or small firm practice.
As for school, no one wants a dumb paralegal. It doesn't matter how smart YOU think you are, your bosses will have more respect and you will earn more money if you have a degree. Besides, being a paralegal requires very strong writing ability. You will not know how to write properly without having gone through the rigors of college. I often tell my students to major in both English and Paralegal studies.
As for night shift work, in some of the worlds largest companies, they have around the clock hours. Landing a job might be easier if you can be flexible about your hours.
I don't know about the local market in NJ, but from my experience as a lawyer in CA, WI and now FL, good paralegals are always in demand. There is generally no requirement for a college degree, but there are usually good paralegal programs available at most community colleges. Some paralegals work night shift type hours, but most work the usual 8-to-5 along with everyone else in a law firm. I know many paralegals who enjoy their work. Depending on what type of firm you work in, the work can be very interesting and enjoyable, especially if you are a detail-oriented person who has a good sense of organization. Best of luck.