How to Have a Career as a Mediator

Career as a Mediator

For those interested in conflict management and resolution, a career as a professional mediator may be an option. Mediation has been on the rise for quite some time and is a staple in the alternative dispute resolution sphere. The mediation process has become a way for the parties involved to resolve conflicts through mutual agreement rather than litigation. Yet it can be difficult to know where to start when considering mediation practice, and many may wonder if it is profitable to become a mediator with the state of the legal services industry today.

This article will demonstrate why mediators are so important and provide labor statistics and information to help inform potential mediators with a realistic outlook for any professional mediator job. It will also provide a general path to launch a mediation career.

A Career Path in Alternative Dispute Resolution

The first question many people may have is whether or not career paths in alternative dispute resolution are good paths to take. The answer to this question is dependent on many factors, such as the job outlook and median annual salary in the area. It is also dependent on whether the local court system prefers to refer disputing parties to the mediation program to collaboratively solve conflicts or to the arbitration process for binding decisions. Additionally, the qualifications that one has for mediation or arbitration, such as certification as a court-approved mediator or a law degree, can impact the amount of money that one can earn through mediator jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for all alternative dispute resolution practitioners in May of 2021 was $49,410, with the top 10% of practitioners earning more than $110,000. The higher average pay was reported by those who worked in local and state government, while those who worked in healthcare and legal services tended to earn less.

While this may seem like low numbers for a living, these numbers likely represent those who mediate or arbitrate part-time or on a semi-retired basis and those that are just starting out, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data from many mediators. Those in an established mediation career will likely earn more than the median pay and can make a lifelong and fulfilling career out of the practice.

How to Become a Mediator

If you are hoping to become a mediator and would like to spend time practicing conflict resolution, then following the steps below will help launch your mediator career.

Educational Background

The first thing to consider is your educational background and how that may aid your career path. In many states, the level of education that you have determines the number of hours of mediation training programs that you will need to complete and the experience you will need to gain before you can be certified as a mediator with the local courts.

Law Degree

People who have earned a law degree and have practiced as licensed attorneys are generally able to become a mediator more easily and with fewer requirements. This is because most lawyers will be familiar with the legal process. Additionally, many attorneys may have had exposure to meditation programs while finishing up their legal studies at law school.

Advanced Degree

Other advanced degrees may be helpful as well, especially if the degree is in areas related to family law, such as psychology or financial planning. This can lower the number of years of experience a mediator may need.

Bachelor’s Degree

Finally, if a person is hoping to get a mediator job with a bachelor’s degree or undergraduate degree, they most likely will be able to in most states. Specifically, a bachelor’s degree in finance or business administration, psychology, or other connected subjects may be useful for advancing their career. However, they may have to complete more training or gain more experience than someone with a more advanced degree.

Comprehensive Mediator Training Course

The next step is to complete mediation training. This is a training that teaches critical thinking skills, the mediation process, relevant laws and procedural matters, and tips for facilitating communication with listening skills. These trainings can last from 30 to 40 training hours as required by a local jurisdiction, or a semester-long course on how to facilitate communication as a part of a degree at a college or law school-based dispute resolution program.

This course will often only be the foundation for mediation. Many mediators will continue to do additional training throughout their careers.

Conflict Resolution Experience

Another step that is valuable in making a career out of mediation is to practice mediation. To be able to resolve disputes effectively and run your own practice, gaining mediation experience is the key.

Local Mediation Membership Organizations

One way to get experience is to join a location mediation membership organization. This is a collection of meditators who help train each other on how to resolve complicated disputed issues. These may also be called independent mediation programs or dispute resolution centers.

An understanding of business administration is likely necessary to run a professional practice well. If you are a mediator who needs additional assistance with the marketing and client-gathering side of the practice, teaming up with a dispute resolution center will allow you to leave the administration to the professionals and execute your work as a professional mediator in the best capacity.

State and Local Governments

Another way to gain experience is to qualify as a mediator for a court-approved list. Most mediators can mediate a significant number of hours through these programs, and many of them provide mentorship to new mediators.

Find a Mentor

It is the mediator’s job to resolve disputes between opposing parties. While this is often done working independently, many mediators will be excited to provide training and support to new mediators. The mediators work together to obtain information and accomplish the goal that the mediators and the parties created.

Start Your Own Private Practice

Once you have gained the training and experience to feel comfortable working on your own, you can create your own tailored work environment by opening up your own mediation practice. This practice can be the base for any new cases that you take on and as your network grows, so will your career.

Final Thoughts

With the skills and experience to back you up, you will be well on your way to making a rewarding career as a mediator. To learn more about starting a career as a mediator, alternate conflict resolutions, and more, contact ADR Times.

Emily Holland
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