Becoming a Mediator: Job Description & Salary Info

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A mediator's annual median salary is about $57,180, but is it worth all the education and training requirements? See real job duties and get the truth about career outlook to find out if becoming a mediator is the right career for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Mediation Career

Mediators help lower the chance of a trial, but they need excellent communication, interpersonal and legal skills to craft the compromising proposals between parties. You will need to consider the pros and cons of becoming a mediator to determine if this career will be a good match.

Pros of Being a Mediator
Higher than average salary potential (median salary of approximately $57,180 in 2014)*
Help resolve legal issues before trial*
Venue to think creatively to help others**
Sociable and interpersonal career**

Cons of Being a Mediator
You may compete for positions against applicants with more training*
Varied employment status from part-time to over 40-hours*
Must concentrate and pay attention to every legal detail*
Possibly stressful from interpreting, emphasizing and being critical of others**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET Online.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a mediator is a legal professional who helps compromise and resolve two disputed party complaints (www.bls.gov). Unlike judges, a mediator does not provide a binding solution that is enforceable by law. Instead, the mediator tries to think of ways to resolve the issue without the two parties going to a court of law where one party may be ruled at fault.

Although they work in the civil service sector with judges, most mediators perform their duties in offices, meeting rooms or neutral locations for both parties to meet and communicate. Like judges, they must pay attention to every detail before them so they can provide a fair and neutral position. Hours vary depending on employment status and caseload. A typical 40-hour week is possible, according to the BLS, but many job postings highlight the possibility of part-time work.

Job Prospects and Salary

The BLS states that when combined with the duties of non-judges, such as arbitrators or conciliators, the projected employment growth for mediators is 10% between 2012 and 2022. Since the mediation process can be cheaper and help expedite the legal process, many more parties will first work through mediation before heading to a trial. The median annual salary for all mediators, arbitrators and conciliators was about $57,180 in May 2014. The bottom-earning tenth percentile earned a median salary of $33,200, while the top-earning tenth percentile earned a salary of $121,050.

Career Requirements

Education and Training Requirements

A mediator's educational and training requirements depend on the position. For example, you may wish to pursue a certificate or associate degree program in mediation. You can also find bachelor's or master's degree programs in law or public policy.

According to the BLS, certification is on a state-by-state basis and all states have around 40- to 60-hour training program with apprenticeship training opportunities for certification. No national licensing requirement is needed for mediators, according to the BLS.

What Do Employers Look for?

Mediation positions are available in a variety of industries. Although academic requirements vary, most employers look for experience or professional certification. The following are just a few of the available job postings from April 2012:

  • A Washington, D.C., youth program was looking for a mediator to resolve juvenile-related crimes to reduce recidivism and stop cases from going to a trial. No minimum academic requirement were listed, but the city recruits you into the program for a 40-hour certification program before you can work as a mediator.
  • A consulting firm with locations in southern states wanted a mediator to help with private company and government disputes. They would mediate between the two entities and draft reports that may be submitted and filed on record for the company. Prospective applicants needed a bachelor's degree with eight years of mediating experience, as well as local and professional certification in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
  • A New York City mediation center needed a volunteer mediator to mediate cases across Queens. The position provided the 40-hour training program and there was no minimum education background explicitly required.

How to Stand out in the Field?

Seek an Apprenticeship

Although state mediator credentialing requires a certain amount of classroom training, some educational facilities further stress apprenticeships. Apprenticeships offer you opportunities to observe the mediating process. In addition, you often co-mediate, meaning you would work alongside a professional on real mediation cases.

Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities

Since mediation is an interpersonal profession, interacting with other professionals and taking on as many chances to mediate as possible will help your credentials. One graduate program for mediation mentions joining networking associations, such as dispute resolution associations. Professional associations, such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA), can help provide workshops and possible job opportunities through their networking services.

Other Careers to Consider

Judge

If you want to work in law and want to pursue advanced education, you can become a judge. Unlike a mediator, a judge gives binding decisions on legal cases and has the discretion to interpret the law in a case. Judges require a bachelor's and law degree, as well as political connections because executives, like mayors, governors or the president, appoint them as well higher-level court judges. The job outlook for judges is much lower than mediators, with a projected 9% growth between 2010-2020, according to the BLS. However, the median annual wage for a judge is higher, which was about $120,000 as of May 2011.

Adjudicator

If you want to work for the government but not with personal disputes, you may want to become an adjudicator or an administrative judge. Adjudicators are internal judges that help decide individual cases against a government entity in terms of social services and laws. The BLS states that issues like worker's compensation and employment discrimination are common issues brought up under an adjudicator. States vary on the experience needed to become an adjudicator. The BLS indicates that some states do not require adjudicators to have a law degree.

However, federal appointed adjudicators must be lawyers and pass a specific exam provided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Although the BLS states that adjudicator employment is expected to remain the same with little to no growth, the annual median salary for the position was $85,000 with a higher earning potential than a mediator.

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Legal Studies
  • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal

Which subject are you interested in?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Science in Regulatory Science

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Legal Studies
  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Paralegal

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin

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Baker College Online

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
  • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Compliance (ML)
  • Bachelor - Business Administration

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