Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators held about 8,400 jobs in 2012. Many work for state or local governments or in the legal services industry.
The industries that employed the most arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators in 2012 were as follows:
|State and local government, excluding education and hospitals||29%|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||10|
|Health care and social assistance||6|
|Finance and insurance||4|
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators usually work in private offices or meeting rooms. They may travel to a neutral site chosen for negotiations.
Some arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work part time and may also have other occupations or careers.
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.
Education is one part to becoming an arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator. However, few receive a degree specific to the field of arbitration, mediation, or conflict resolution. Rather, many positions require an educational degree appropriate to the applicant’s field of expertise, and a bachelor’s degree is often sufficient. Many other positions, however, may require applicants to have a law degree, a master’s in business administration, or other advanced degree.
Some colleges and universities offer a certificate program in conflict resolution or a 2-year master's degree in dispute resolution or conflict management, or a 4- or 5-year doctoral degree program. Applicants may use these programs to supplement their existing educational degree and work experience in other fields.
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 or insurance. They need to have knowledge of that industry and be able to relate well to people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Although there are no state requirements for mediators working in private settings, mediators must typically meet specific training or experience standards to practice in state-funded or court-appointed mediation cases. Qualifications and standards vary by state or by court. However, most states require mediators to complete a 40-hour basic course in mediation and a 20-hour advanced or specialized training course.
Some states require mediators to work under the supervision of an experienced mediator for a certain amount of cases before becoming qualified.
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 national license for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators. State requirements vary widely. Some states require licenses appropriate to 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 $61,280 in May 2012. 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 $34,100, and the top 10 percent earned more than $137,350.
In May 2012, the median annual wages for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators in the top five industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Finance and insurance||59,730|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and
|State and local government, excluding education
|Health care and social assistance||42,210|
Many arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work part time and may have other occupations or careers.
Employment of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution methods are often seen as faster and less expensive than trials and litigation. In addition, many contracts, including employment, customer, and real estate contracts, may include clauses requiring complaints and disputes to be decided through mediation or arbitration.
However, employment growth of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is expected to be moderate. Because many arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work for state or local government, budgetary constraints may limit employment growth. Also, in some cases or industries, litigation is either unavoidable or its benefits are still preferred over other types of conflict resolution.
Because arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators deal extensively with legal issues and disputes, those with a law degree should have better job prospects. In addition, lawyers with expertise or experience in one or more particular legal areas, such as environmental, health, or corporate law, should also have the best job prospects.