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How to Become a Mediator - The Complete Guide

December 6, 2023
4 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 12/06/23

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to become a mediator. 

If you like working directly with people and solving problems, a career as a mediator is an excellent field to pursue. Mediators are hired by governments, legal companies, and private clients to resolve disputes between two or more people. 

Mediation is a growing field with a lot of opportunities. Those who want a dynamic career where no day is the same should seriously consider this profession! Below, we’ll outline key information to help you decide whether mediation is the right path for you.

Steps to Becoming a Mediator

If you want to become a mediator, it is important to know exactly how to get there. Keep reading below as we take you step-by-step through how to become a mediator. 

Pick Your Area of Interest 

Before you begin your journey toward joining this profession, you should have a good idea of where exactly you want your path to take you. Your area of interest will impact the courses you choose and even the experience you will need. While making such a major decision early can be intimidating, it is also very important! 

Mediation is a fairly new area of practice, but it is very diverse. The areas of mediation you can pick from include: 

  • Professional sports 
  • Workplace
  • Environmental concerns 
  • Real estate
  • Health care
  • Public policy 
  • Intellectual property
  • Commercial 
  • Personal injury 
  • Divorce 

This list doesn’t even cover it all! There are many areas of focus you can pursue as a mediator. Take your time to figure out what sparks your interest and passion, as that will be where you have the greatest chances of success.  

Complete an Undergraduate Degree

There is no pre-mediator degree, but there are a few specific degrees that will give you interchangeable skills that mediators need. 

Some degrees you should consider taking are: 

  • English or Communications 
  • Political science 
  • Business 
  • Psychology 
  • Criminal Justice 
  • History 
  • Social work 

These programs will help you fine-tune your communication, writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills. Some people also pursue higher education after their bachelor’s, such as a master’s degree. While this is not necessary, it’s definitely something to think about! 

Get Relevant Work Experience

Mediators talking in office

It may be hard to get relevant work experience right off the bat, and if that is the case, look for volunteer opportunities and internships that will look great on your resume. 

While it is not necessary to have a legal background to become a mediator, working in similar positions as students who have set their sights set on law school can be beneficial. 

Aside from giving you experience working in the legal field, these opportunities will help you fine-tune your writing, research, critical thinking, and conflict resolution skills, all of which compliment the skills and experience needed for mediation. 

Mediation Certification

Some states may require you to take mediation training before entering the workforce which results in a certification. However, this is not a requirement for every state. 

Either way, we recommend that you seriously consider taking a 40-hour mediation training program—it’s how you can become a certified mediator. Some popular mediation programs include Northwestern University’s mediation training program, which teaches the fundamental and practical techniques needed to succeed in the field.

The National Association of Certified Mediators (NACM) also offers a 40-hour mediation course for certification. Taking a training course will boost your resume and make you a desirable candidate to potential employers. 

What Does a Mediator Do?

mediators looking over contracts

So, just what does a mediator do? Responsibilities and day-to-day activities change depending on the area of practice. A mediator’s main purpose is to be a neutral third party in disputes to help both sides come to an agreement. These disputes can involve legal areas such as real estate, tax, family and divorce, healthcare, and more.

It is important to note that a mediator does not make decisions for either party involved. Rather, they are there to help and support each party in making their own decisions. A mediator also does not give legal advice. 

Learning how to properly support these parties comes with practice, which is why part of the qualifications to join a mediator role involve experience and training courses!

Mediator Salary and Career Outlook

woman typing on computer

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups the job outlooks for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. They estimate that there will be a 5% job growth over the next ten years, which is the average growth rate. 

The average mediator’s salary is $64,030 per year. 

FAQs: Becoming a Mediator

If you have more questions about how to become a mediator, we’ve got you covered! We answer some frequently asked questions below. 

1. Do I Need a Law Degree to Become a Mediator?

The requirements to join the mediator profession vary from state to state. However, generally, you do not need to have a JD.

Most states require you to take mediator training, gain experience (usually by shadowing a mediator), and have a bachelor’s degree. While there are no specific requirements for a pre-law undergraduate degree, there are programs that will give you key skills and knowledge to succeed in the legal field. 

While mediators are technically legal professions that don’t need law degrees, you should still have a basic understanding of important legal terminology

If you are interested in getting a law degree, check out law school acceptance rates to help you decide on the best law school for you. 

2. Is Being a Mediator Stressful?

Some people may find being a mediator can be stressful, as mediators deal with conflict, confrontation, and disputes. Because of these tense situations, mediation is hard work and can be emotionally draining for some. 

3. What Are the Requirements to Be a Mediator in California?

The state of California has no required meditation training; aspiring mediators are highly encouraged to partake in the 40-hour training and certification course. 

The training will provide you with the necessary skills and information to succeed in the field of mediation. The training will also give you an advantage over those who have little to no training when looking for job opportunities. 

4. What Qualities Does a Mediator Need?

Mediators come from various backgrounds, from legal to health care to communications. In short, there is no formal background training or program for mediators. However, anyone can be a good mediator if they possess the following skills and attributes:

Active listening skills: As a mediator, you need to actively listen to best understand what each party wants and needs. 

Adaptability: Mediators need to think on their feet and adapt to unpredictable changes in situations. You need to be able to understand and work with a variety of people and their perspectives and adapt to find a solution that works for everyone. 

Conflict Resolution: As you will be working with people in high-stress and sometimes unfavorable situations, the ability to remain calm, and resolve conflict is essential to being a mediator. 

Empathy: Empathy is key to creating and building relationships with people. Building a relationship with your clients is important because it means people will open up to you and be honest with you. As a mediator, you need to know everyone’s side of the story and have all the information to be able to make a fair resolution. 

Patience: Patience ties into empathy and emotional intelligence. Good mediators need patience when building their relationships and trust with clients, when dealing with and meeting clients, and when listening to everyone’s story. 

5. What Is the Difference Between a Mediator and an Arbitrator?

The key difference between a mediator and an arbitrator is the fact that while mediators help two or more parties come to an agreement, an arbitrator has the power to make binding decisions. 

A mediator negotiates and facilitates conversations and decisions between two or more parties, and an arbitrator makes the final decision after listening to the evidence.

Final Thoughts

Mediation is an exciting, unpredictable field that will keep you on your toes. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, it may be the perfect choice for you. 

Whether or not you decide to pursue a career in mediation, best of luck with your future endeavors! 

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