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What You Can Expect in a Mediation Career

Become a mediator to work in the world of alternate dispute resolution.

mediator meeting with small group of people

The Basics

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: $64,030

Top-paying states: District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Connecticut

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.

Mediated Arbitration (Med-Arb)

Another form of mediation is Med-Arb. This method combines the practices of mediation and arbitration.

A neutral third party mediates a dispute until the parties reach an impasse. At this point, an overseer issues an arbitration decision on the cause of the impasse or other unresolved issues. The disputing parties agree in advance whether the same person—or a different one—will conduct both the mediation and arbitration processes.

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 criminal justice, public policy, and related fields also provide good backgrounds for prospective arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators.

Median Annual Salaries

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

National data

Median Salary: $64,030

Projected job growth: 5%

10th Percentile: $33,980

25th Percentile: $48,130

75th Percentile: $98,680

90th Percentile: $194,630

Projected job growth: 5%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $74,030 $40,480 $104,750
Arizona $67,650 $46,980 $127,570
Colorado $63,920 $43,560 $77,650
Connecticut $71,800 $48,700 $105,850
Delaware $83,200 $39,880 $92,540
District of Columbia $105,310 $63,840 $177,680
Florida $61,670 $33,850 $96,960
Georgia $67,410 $45,800 $110,870
Indiana $51,570 $47,470 $61,980
Maine $54,640 $48,610 $94,590
Massachusetts $66,130 $29,640 $160,760
Michigan $69,840 $56,080 $104,580
Montana $40,480 $30,160 $85,400
Nevada $48,850 $46,450 $87,550
New Mexico $85,010 $47,360 $110,760
North Carolina $62,150 $40,570 $72,430
Ohio $64,810 $44,110 $125,590
Oregon $53,400 $37,680 $128,520
Pennsylvania $63,640 $52,770 $93,310
South Carolina $54,150 $45,080 $101,180
Tennessee $69,340 $47,490 $114,820
Texas $51,690 $40,020 $79,020
Utah $52,970 $48,100 $85,300
Wisconsin $57,040 $43,830 $117,520

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.