Mediator

Learn About a Career in Alternative Dispute Resolution

Three people in a meeting
A mediator and her clients come to an agreement. Buero Monaco / Taxi / Getty Images

A mediator helps people settle disputes without going through the court system. He or she uses a collection of processes referred to as alternative dispute resolution. Mediators are also known as arbitrators and conciliators.

Quick Facts

  • In 2015, mediators earned a median annual salary of $58,020 or hourly wages of $27.89.
  • Approximately 8,400 people worked as mediators in 2014.
  • Most jobs are full time.
  • Mediators have a good job outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.

A Day in a Mediator's Life

To learn what a mediator's job is like, we looked at listings on Indeed.com. These are some of the job duties we found listed there:

  • "Conduct mediation conferences on child custody and visitation disputes"
  • "Create and maintain all files involved in the mediation process"
  • "Meet with disputing parties and attorneys"
  • "Report, track, and follow-up on mediated cases"
  • "Lead discussions of procedural and substantive legal issues"
  • "Partner with legal counsel to reach resolutions that are in the best interest of the customer, the company and investors"
  • "Participate in educational opportunities within the ADR community"

How to Become a Mediator

Requirements for mediators vary by state. While some require them to be experienced lawyers, many do not even stipulate that one has to have a law degree.

State or court funded mediation programs have specific training or experience requirements for those who work within their systems, but again these requirements vary. One can get training through independent mediation programs, membership organizations and post-secondary schools. It usually includes completing a 40-hour basic course and a 20-hour advanced training course.

Like educational requirements, licensing and certification requirements vary by state with some states licensing mediators and others certifying or registering them. Some professional organizations provide voluntary certifications.

What Soft Skills Do You Need?

In addition to education, training and licensing requirements, you will also need certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to do your job. They are:

  • Interpersonal Skills: As a mediator, you must develop a rapport with people and be able to facilitate negotiations between them. Excellent persuasion skills are also necessary.
  • Active Listening: You need the ability to carefully listen to the information people are providing in order to evaluate it.
  • Verbal Communication: You must be able to effectively convey instructions to clients.
  • Reading Comprehension: The ability to understand the vast quantity of written information pertaining to cases is essential.
  • Critical Thinking: You must be able to apply legal rules when making decisions and solving problems.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

In addition to skills and experience, what qualities do employers look for when they hire workers? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed.com:

  • "Maintain neutrality and poise while conducting mediations"
  • "Strong planning, organizational, multi-tasking skills"
  • "An ability to work independently without supervision, to exercise judgment and discretion in maintaining party confidences, control direction of negotiations, and problem solve within a court environment"
  • "Demonstrated ability to work with difficult situations with multiple interests/parties involved"
  • "Ability to present strongly and perform duties in court and conference"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

    Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

     DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2015)Minimum Required Education/Training
    AttorneyRepresents clients in legal cases 

    $115,820

    Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree From a Law School
    JudgeOversees legal cases in a courtroom$126,930Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree From a Law School
    ParalegalSupports attorneys in a law office$48,810Associate or Bachelor's Degree, or On-the-Job Training

    Sources:
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited June 9, 2016 ).
    Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited June 9, 2016).

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