Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators held about 7,700 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators were as follows:
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||17%|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||16|
|Healthcare and social assistance||10|
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 learn their skills through a combination of education, training, and work experience.
Education is one part of becoming an arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator.
Few candidates 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, require applicants to have a law degree, a master’s in business administration, or some other 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 $63,930 in May 2019. 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 $37,420, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $123,730.
In May 2019, 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||66,410|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||64,080|
|Healthcare and social assistance||46,300|
Employment of arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.
Arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution methods often are quicker and less expensive than trials and litigation. In addition, many contracts, including employment, customer, and real estate contracts, include clauses requiring complaints and disputes to be decided through mediation or arbitration.
However, many arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators work for state or local governments, and budgetary constraints may limit employment growth. Also, in some cases or industries, litigation is unavoidable or its benefits are preferred over the benefits gained in 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 have the best job prospects.