Conflict Resolution Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary

About this article
Get the truth about a conflict resolution specialist's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job descriptions and see the pros and cons of becoming a conflict resolution specialist.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career in Conflict Resolution

Often in a civil legal dispute, a judge will send the two parties to a required mediation to give them an opportunity to solve the problem at hand without expending the time and accruing the costs of a court case. The field of mediation has its share of pros and cons that you can explore to see if this is the right career for you.

Pros of a Career in Conflict Resolution
No national license is required for professional mediators*
An expected employment increase of 10% between 2012 and 2022*
Agencies devoted to mediation offer options for professional certification**
Opportunities for mediation exist in a wide range of situations*

Cons of a Career in Conflict Resolution
Mediators may work overtime to prepare for meetings or hearings*
Conflict resolution specialists may find themselves in stressful situations*
People may be less likely to choose conflict resolution to solve disputes*
Requirements for mediators can vary from state to state*

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*, Center for Conflict Resolution**

Career Information

Job Description

Conflict resolution specialists work as mediators, arbitrators or conciliators. Arbitrators act as a third party whose job it is to rule impartially on a dispute, while mediators and conciliators work to bring the two parties to a mutually agreed upon decision. These specialists must be knowledgeable about the tactics and theories needed to attain contractual agreements and resolve disputes. Besides mediating in court situations, they may work with labor and labor management to resolve disputes, often working directly for one side or the other.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2014, the median salary for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators was close to $60,000, with 6,830 professionals working in the United States. Location can affect how much you earn. For example, professionals in conflict resolution working in California earned an hourly mean wage of $35.82, while the same professionals in Texas earned $28.42 per hour. The BLS also predicted average employment growth for this field as 10% for 2012 to 2022.

Career Requirements

Conflict resolution specialists often come into their jobs with backgrounds in areas such as human resources, social work, psychology, business management and law. They usually become professionals in the mediation field once they have completed additional training in conflict management. Training is offered as part of a separate program or seminar or as part of a business- or law-related degree program. Many educational institutions offer master's programs in conflict management, and after completing one of these programs, graduates can work for various organizations. Some may also go into private practice.

What Are Employers Looking for?

Although the BLS notes that a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement, employers often look for conflict resolution specialist applicants with graduate level degrees. No licenses are specifically required for this profession; however, some employers require other types of licensure or certification, such as approved membership to a state bar association and the ability to practice law. Mediators should have the ability to listen and communicate with other individuals in order to provide advice to help clients solve their conflicts. In job advertisements from April 2012, employers sought some of the following:

  • A company with offices in Louisiana, Florida, Kentucky and several other locations seeks a conflict resolution specialist to work on an on-call basis. This individual should have a bachelor's degree with eight years of experience, or, in lieu of a bachelor's degree, 12 years of work experience. State certification, where required, is also a must.
  • A law school in California requires a conflict resolution specialist with a bachelor's degree and law degree to prepare paperwork in English and Spanish, to prepare contracts and perform data entry. This individual will be responsible for supervising student mediators. This person must also be a member of the California State Bar.
  • A New York-based community service organization seeks an associate mediation manager to mediate disputes when necessary, along with being responsible for scheduling of mediators and interviewing clients. They must have strong communication skills and understand the relationship between mediation and the court system. This individual will work with a variety of agencies from the courts, educational facilities and other volunteers. A bachelor's degree is required; an applicant who also has a law degree and mediation certification is preferable.

How to Stand Out From the Crowd

Because this career path requires at minimum a bachelor's degree, you may need to find a way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. One way to do this would be to go back to school to earn a law degree.

Continue Your Education

According to April 2012 job listings an individual with a Juris Doctor (JD) may have better chances of being hired. These degree programs usually take three years of study beyond the bachelor's degree. As a law student, you'll take courses in criminal law, civil procedure and legal research. You'll also be able to take externships and help at school-run legal clinics. Students may be able to earn certificates specific to dispute resolution as part of their work toward the J.D. Certification is also available through programs such as what is offered at the Center for Conflict Resolution.

Alternative Career Paths

If you've decided you'd prefer more responsibility in the field of law than what a career in dispute resolution provides, and you don't mind pursuing the extra education required, you could consider working as a lawyer. This career requires completion of a Juris Doctor degree and admission to a state bar, much like some conflict resolution specialist positions require. The BLS expected employment in the field to increase 10 percent between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2011, 570,950 lawyers were employed in the U.S.; the median salary was approximately $110,000.

Another option you may want to consider that could keep you working in the legal profession is a career as a private detective. While a degree is not generally required, some college education is not uncommon. Some employers, however, may wish to hire someone with an associate's degree or bachelor's degree. Licensing is also required. These individuals typically work alone, according to the BLS, and often work irregular hours. The BLS noted that between 2010 and 2020, employment of private detectives was expected to increase by 21percent. The median annual salary for these professionals was approaching $44,000 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
      • BS in Corrections
      • BS in Legal Support and Services
      • BS in Legal Support and Services - Paralegal
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Science in Fire Science
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Fire Science
    Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
      • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
      • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
      • Master of Arts in Government - Law and Public Policy
      • Master of Arts in Law - General Legal Studies
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor of Arts in Government - International Relations and Foreign Policy
      • Bachelor of Arts in International Studies
  • Campus Locations:
    3. American National University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Paralegal
    Certificate
      • Paralegal Studies - Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. South College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Science in Investigation & Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Legal Secretary
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Arts in Government - International Relations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

American National University

  • Paralegal
  • Paralegal Studies - Certificate

What is your education level?

South College

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Science in Investigation & Security

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster

  • Career Diploma - Legal Secretary

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

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

What is your highest level of education?