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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: $49,410

Top-paying states: District of Columbia, New Jersey, New Mexico, Connecticut, Minnesota

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: $49,410

Projected job growth: 6.2%

10th Percentile: $29,990

25th Percentile: $36,910

75th Percentile: $75,940

90th Percentile: $110,350

Projected job growth: 6.2%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $70,770 $38,570 $102,700
Arizona $63,030 $39,050 $122,640
Colorado $47,290 $36,910 $77,090
Connecticut $90,240 $57,980 $108,900
Delaware N/A N/A N/A
District of Columbia $102,080 $74,280 $167,790
Florida $50,060 $31,130 $80,930
Georgia $62,990 $41,210 $98,480
Illinois $49,050 $38,460 $116,130
Indiana $48,390 $45,340 $62,510
Maryland $47,460 $29,460 $93,680
Massachusetts $47,420 $31,100 $123,860
Michigan $70,800 $58,960 $102,470
Minnesota $77,710 $42,200 $128,750
Missouri $58,970 $38,570 $80,850
Montana $36,780 $29,010 $79,340
Nevada $47,310 $36,960 $104,580
New Hampshire $59,770 $46,490 $74,760
New Jersey $94,850 $58,970 $134,200
New Mexico $90,000 $46,680 $109,550
New York $73,700 $42,030 $129,850
North Carolina $61,760 $39,790 $79,340
Ohio $51,140 $40,100 $113,190
Oregon $47,140 $36,750 $81,780
Pennsylvania $61,740 $47,290 $95,120
Tennessee $58,280 $36,710 $110,350
Texas $49,410 $36,720 $75,070
Utah $54,080 $46,300 $144,190
Virginia $46,830 $36,520 $76,010
Wisconsin $58,680 $43,100 $117,750

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. 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.