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How to Become a Mediator

August 25, 2023


Reviewed by:

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

Reviewed: 05/09/23

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 becoming a mediator. 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 to start your journey towards becoming a mediator, 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

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 complement skills and experience needed for mediation. 

Complete Mediation Training 

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

Either way, we recommend that you seriously consider taking the 40-hour mediation training program. Northwestern University, for example, teaches students the fundamental and practical techniques they need to succeed in its meditation training program

Taking a training course will really boost your resume and make you a desirable candidate for potential employers.

What Does a Mediator Do?

So, just what does a mediator do? Your responsibilities and day-to-day activities will change depending on your 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. 

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. 

Mediator Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups the job outlooks for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators together. They estimate that there will be a 6% job growth over the next ten years, which is the average growth rate. 

The average mediator’s salary is $49,410 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 become a mediator vary from state to state. However, generally, you do not need a law degree to become a mediator. 

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 you do not need a law degree to become a mediator, you should 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 make a decision 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 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 made 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 are interested in, becoming a mediator may be the right 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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