Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators held about 8,900 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators were as follows:
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||12|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||12|
|Healthcare and social assistance||4|
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators usually work in private offices or meeting rooms. They may travel to a neutral site chosen for negotiations.
The work may be stressful because arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators sometimes work with difficult or confrontational individuals or with highly charged and emotional situations, such as injury settlements or family disputes.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators typically need at least a bachelor's degree at the entry level. They learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.
Few candidates for these jobs receive a degree specific to the field of arbitration, mediation, or conflict resolution. Rather, many positions require education appropriate to the applicant’s field of expertise. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient, but some positions require candidates to have a law degree, a master’s in business administration, or another type of advanced degree.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are usually lawyers, retired judges, or business professionals with expertise in a particular field, such as construction, finance, or insurance. They need to have knowledge of that industry and be able to relate well to people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Mediators typically work under the supervision of an experienced mediator for a certain number of cases before working independently.
Training for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is available through independent mediation programs, national and local mediation membership organizations, and postsecondary schools. Training is also available by volunteering at a community mediation center.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
There is no national license for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. However, some states require arbitrators and mediators to become certified to work on certain types of cases. Qualifications, standards, and the number of training hours required vary by state or by court. Most states require mediators to complete 20 to 40 hours of training courses to become certified. Some states require additional hours of training in a specialty area.
Some states require licenses appropriate to the applicant’s field of expertise. For example, some courts may require applicants to be licensed attorneys or certified public accountants.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators typically have an interest in the Helping and Persuading interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading interest which might fit with a career as an arbitrator, mediator, and conciliator, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators should also possess the following specific qualities:
Critical-thinking skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must apply rules of law. They must remain neutral and not let their own personal assumptions interfere with the proceedings.
Decision-making skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must be able to weigh the facts, apply the law or rules, and make a decision relatively quickly.
Interpersonal skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators deal with disputing parties and must be able to facilitate discussion in a calm and respectful way.
Listening skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must pay close attention to what is being said in order to evaluate information.
Reading skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators must be able to evaluate and distinguish the important facts from large amounts of complex information.
Writing skills. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators write recommendations or decisions on appeals or disputes. They must be able to write their decisions clearly so that all sides understand the decision.
The median annual wage for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators was $49,410 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,350.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||$73,610|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||65,310|
|Healthcare and social assistance||46,640|
Employment of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 500 openings for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The alternative methods of resolving disputes that arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators provide often are quicker and less expensive than trials and litigation. In addition, many contracts, such as those for employment and real estate, include clauses requiring mediation or arbitration to resolve complaints and disputes.
However, because alternative dispute resolution in government is contingent on available funds, state and local government budgets may affect public sector employment of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. Also, in some cases or industries, litigation may be unavoidable or its benefits preferred over alternatives to resolving conflict.