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How to Become a Mediator (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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Do you want to work in a profession that positively impacts the lives of others?

Working in mediation might be the right career for you! This profession helps people resolve conflicts and reach a satisfactory agreement.

For that reason, many people share the desire to become mediators. However, the former process can be complex and overwhelming.

Luckily, in this article, we’ll show you how to become a mediator in six simple steps!

An Overview of Mediators: A Primer

As the name suggests, a mediator is someone involved in dispute resolution. The person acts as a third party during the mediation process. A good mediator always remains impartial and has the skills to navigate uncomfortable situations.

The goal is to assist and facilitate negotiation between the parties in conflict to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. That’s to stop the dispute from proceeding to court.

Mediators can work in a variety of settings or specialize in a particular field. Some of the common situations requiring conflict management include:

  • Divorce
  • Non-violent harassment
  • Child custody
  • Domestic relations, but less likely with domestic violence cases
  • Legal settlements
  • Commercial disputes
  • Housing issues
  • Other small claims that don’t involve legal issues

Regardless of the dispute, the mediation session typically follows the same scenario: the mediator starts with an introduction, explains the ground rules, facilitates negotiation and problem-solving to reach an agreement, and concludes the session.

What Are the Duties of a Mediator?

The duties of mediators can vary depending on the dispute type and their specialization.

However, generally, most mediators are in charge of the following responsibilities:

  • Remain impartial and neutral
  • Arrange the meetings for two or more parties
  • Explain the mediation process as well as the roles and responsibilities of both parties
  • Facilitate communication and information exchange between the conflict parties
  • Keep information confidential
  • Draft and document non-binding agreement contracts

How Much Do Mediators Make?

On average, certified mediator salaries range from $60,000 to $90,000 annually or around $47-$50 per hour.

A federal government mediator earns slightly above $140,000 a year. Top earners make around $198,000 annually.

The salaries of mediators vary significantly depending on location and specialization. Generally, the medical, federal, and education fields are the highest-paying industries for mediation services.

What You’ll Need to Become a Mediator [& Associated Costs]

To become a mediator, you need a combination of formal education, training, and practical experience.

Here are the necessary skills you’ll need and their associated costs:

  • Bachelor’s degree: Mediators typically have a degree in law, psychology, communication, social science, or a related field. Prices vary depending on the program but generally range between $25,000 and $80,000 a year.
  • Master’s in conflict resolution: Depending on the program and school, a master’s in conflict resolution costs between $15,000 and $40,000.
  • Critical thinking courses: Institute online programs can cost between $1000 and $4000.
  • Communication skills: Business schools offer online communication and negotiation skill material that ranges from $0 to $4000 per course.
  • Certification: The National Association of Certified Mediators offers a 40-hour preparation course for around $1000. The mediation certification exam costs $400.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Mediator?

It can cost between $40,000 and $130,000 to become a certified mediator. Keep in mind that the total price doesn’t include business setup costs.

In that case, you’ll spend more on office space, insurance, website development, and marketing materials, which vary depending on your location and goals.

Is it Hard to Become a Mediator?

Yes! Becoming a mediator can be challenging, as it’s a lifelong process. You first need to complete a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years.

Depending on your specialization, you may need to enroll in a graduate program that takes an average of 1-2 years.

Aside from that, you need to gain hands-on experience through mediation training and internships.

To get certified, some states require a minimum number of cases and working years to apply for the exam. If that wasn’t enough, you have to recertify every couple of years and take continuing education courses.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Mediator?

The time it takes to become a mediator depends primarily on your education level and jurisdiction. Assuming you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree, it can take several months to two years to complete mediation training and become certified.

Specializing in criminal law or related fields, however, can take up to five years of meditation experience to become court-certified.

How to Become a Mediator in 7 Simple Steps

To become a professional mediator, you need to complete a degree in a relevant field, complete basic mediation training, and gain hands-on experience.

Since that is easier said than done, here are seven steps to help you kick-start your career in dispute resolution:

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

While it can vary from one state to another, to work as a professional mediator, you typically need to have a bachelor’s degree. The good news is that you don’t need a degree in mediation, arbitration, or conflict resolution to become a mediator.

Any formal education in a relevant field will suffice. Some of the related degrees include law, psychology, political science, communications, and public policy.

Even if you’ve completed your higher education in an irrelevant field, you can still become a mediator. However, you’ll need to complete additional education to qualify for the job.

Some schools offer a certificate in mediation alongside a bachelor’s degree in a different discipline. Regardless of the program, completing your higher education is the first step to becoming a mediator.

Step 2: Choose a Specialization in Mediation Practice

Mediation work is required in numerous niches. As you might have guessed, becoming a generalized mediator is not only challenging, but it can also hurt your chances. Most companies would look for an expert to hire.

To gain that experience, your education, training, and network need to be in that particular field.

That’s why you need to specialize in an area of mediation practice. You’ve got a plethora of options to choose from, including:

  • Family mediation (deals with children, domestic violence, custody, divorce, and related cases)
  • Workplace disputes (factory issues, mining litigation, discrimination, and so on)
  • Real estate mediation between landlords and tenants or buyers
  • Art
  • Education
  • Criminal justice
  • Environmental concerns
  • Intellectual property
  • Hospitals and medical care

Step 3: Consider a Graduate Degree

This step isn’t mandatory. However, some positions may require additional education in that particular field. That’s especially true if you want to work in law.

Likewise, attorneys aspiring to work in mediation need to complete a master’s in dispute resolution or similar programs.

Even if it’s not a requirement, getting a master’s degree will help you polish your skill set and add to your credentials.

Some of the common graduate degrees for a career in mediation include:

  • Business administration
  • Behavioral or social science (in the case of family mediation)
  • Legal studies
  • Communications

Step 4: Complete a Mediation Training Program

All mediators undergo mediation training to be eligible to work in this field. Requirements vary from one state to another. However‌, most states require candidates to complete 20-40 hours of training.

Luckily, that’s easy to achieve. Many state-sponsored programs, community dispute resolution centers, educational institutes, and local mediation associations offer training and mentorship.

A master’s degree also typically includes internships or practical experience.

However, you can receive hands-on training from independent, local, or national mediation organizations. Volunteering at a community mediation center also helps you gain the necessary skills.

Here are some organizations that provide mediation training:

  • National Conflict Resolution Center
  • Mediation Training Institute
  • Citizens Advice
  • Local law centers
  • Private law firms

Step 5: Become a Certified Mediator

Typically, all mediators work under a supervisor for several cases before working on their own.

You can expect to gain real-work experience and polish your communication and negotiation skills during your training. Even better, some organizations can offer a full-time position after you finish your internship.

Once you complete mediation training, you can start working in the private or public sectors.

However, some states require earning a certification to work on certain cases. That’s especially true if you wish to work as an official court mediator.

Requirements will vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, generally, you need to complete 20-40 hours of mediation training and a certain number of cases, usually 20 for domestic mediation, to become court-certified.

Applicants typically need to complete these conditions within a maximum of two years before applying for the certification.

Step 6: Establish Your Practice

Now that you’re done with the challenging part, you have two choices: either establish your private practice or join a firm.

You should focus on building your reputation and developing your skills if you’re still new to the field. Joining an alternative dispute resolution firm or center can help you achieve that.

During your years as an employee, focus on expanding your knowledge. Take on as many cases as you can and try to build your connections.

Attending conferences and other professional events can help you with networking and developing your skills.

Once you’re confident in your qualifications, you can go the independent route and start your meditation practice.

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Mediator

Although the process can be challenging, choosing a career in mediation has several perks. Those include:

  • High-income potential: Mediation is a less costly alternative to litigation. Plus, it’s less time-consuming and provides benefits to both parties. Top earners can make six figures annually, regardless of their specialization.
  • Diverse career path: Mediation skills fit various industries and sectors. You can pursue a career in finance, business, law, and more!
  • Professional development: Being a mediator is a lifelong process that requires continuous learning. New cases and clients present unique challenges that expand your knowledge and skills.
  • Preserving relationships: Unlike legal actions, mediation aims to help parties reach common ground. That helps people find relief from stress and anger, which can be rewarding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions? Check out these FAQs that aspiring mediators ask:

What Is the Best Degree to Become a Mediator?

A bachelor’s degree in conflict studies or law is the top degree that helps you become a mediator. You can also complete a master’s in criminal justice or public policy to gain the background knowledge needed to become a mediator.

Where Do You Work as a Mediator?

As a mediator, you can work in various settings, depending on your specialization. Some places where mediators work include private practices, courthouses, hospitals, law firms, government offices, community organizations, and educational institutions.

Similar Gigs to Check Out

Here are similar gigs to check out if you still have doubts about embarking on a career in mediation:

  • How to Become a Notary: Be 18 years old, complete a notary education, and pass your jurisdiction’s notary public exam.
  • How to Become a SCRUM Master: Become knowledgeable in Agile and SCRUM, gain practical experience, and apply for a professional SCRUM master certification.
  • How to Become an Editor: Pursue a degree in English or a relevant field, develop your language and writing skills, and seek volunteering or employment opportunities to gain experience.

Wrapping Up

Working in mediation can be rewarding, as it offers you the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals and communities.

Although the process is challenging, following the steps in our guide can help you start your career in conflict resolution.

Now, it’s over to you! If you found this article helpful, share this information with someone who might benefit from it. And let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts or questions.

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