Learn How to Become a Mediator
Become a mediator or arbitrator, and work in the exciting world of alternate dispute resolution.
What you'll do: A mediator meets confidentially with each side to help clarify concerns, complaints and mediation goals. The parties and mediator then work in a series of private meetings to explore all possible solutions, and come to a mutually acceptable outcome.
Where you'll work: Private offices, meeting rooms of corporations, law firms; travel is mandatory in this position. Some mediators work from home.
Degree you'll need: Juris Doctor or master's degree recommended.
Certification: Highly recommended through the American Arbitration Association.
Median annual salary: $55,800*
Top paying states: Virginia, New Mexico, New Jersey. District of Columbia, California
Negotiate a Mediation Career
Mediation and arbitration are forms of alternate dispute resolution—low-cost alternatives to expensive litigation. Mediators attempt to resolve legal disputes out of court before adverse parties go to trial. In mediation, two sides of a conflict agree to come together with a neutral third-party mediator to resolve their differences.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties are free to return to litigation, but this is often avoided as both sides had entered into mediation in the hopes of resolving the conflict before incurring the expense of litigation.
Mediator Education Programs
Training for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators usually consists of a 2-year master's program in dispute resolution or conflict management, or a 4-to-5 year doctoral program.
Many mediators have a law degree (JD), but master's degrees in public policy, criminal justice, and related fields also provide good backgrounds for prospective arbitrators, mediators and conciliators.
However, depending on your current experience or education, there are many mediation training programs that last as little as a day or a week. Once you get your mediation certification, these shorter mediation training programs are a great way to get deeper knowledge or acquire new skills that will help you in your practice.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data published March 27, 2012; Judges, Mediators, and Hearing Officers.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
Legal Specialties at a Glance
Learn about the careers below to see which one suits you best.
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