Conflict Management Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Oct 09, 2019

Degrees in business, law, social work, counseling, teaching, or similar fields can prepare students for careers in conflict management. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for conflict management professionals.

While small conflicts, such as whose turn it is to do the laundry, are resolved on an interpersonal level, more complex conflicts, such as arranging visitation for a child of separated parents, may require the services of a professional in conflict resolution. Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators often work for the government or with legal services. Sometimes, human resources managers handle conflict resolution within a work environment.

Essential Information

Conflict managers work in mediation, arbitration and conciliation to find resolutions between disputing parties without having to resort to the court system. They facilitate conversation and dialogue to produce positive outcomes.

Career Arbitrators, mediators and conciliators Human resources managers
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 8% 7%
Average Salary (2018)* $72,760 $126,700

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options

Along with working as a mediator or arbitrator, individuals in the field of conflict management may be employed in human resources, counseling and in the court system. Corporations, community organizations, schools and other government agencies all use some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Some of the employment positions described by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) include alternative dispute resolution administrator, foreclosure mediation coordinator, family law facilitator, coordinator of dispute resolution programs and family court mediator.

Job Description

Conflict management falls under the practice of alternative dispute resolution, which includes mediation, arbitration and other methods non-litigation methods used to resolve conflicts, although the courts are sometimes involved in suggesting or providing dispute options. Individuals practicing ADR attempt to reach an agreement where both parties are pleased with the outcome. They help the parties assess their positions, allowing them to decide the outcome, while ADR practitioners remain neutral.

Areas in which conflict management may be used include employment disagreements, intellectual property rights, health care, financial services, family and divorce matters and commercial disputes. Through listening, reasoning and problem solving, arbitrators and mediators ascertain a common ground solution.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports job prospects for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators are likely to increase faster than average by 8% over the 2018-2028 decade. Labor relations managers typically perform conflict management duties as part of human resource departments. Opportunities for human resource managers are expected to expand by 7% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS. Figures from the BLS indicate the average salary for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators was $72,760 in 2018, and human resources managers were paid an average of $126,700 that year.


Most jobs in arbitration, mediation and conciliation require a bachelor's degree, often in business, judicial administration or public administration. Many social science degree programs will also suffice. Higher-level ADR positions usually require a master's degree.

Individuals with a formal education in law, social work, counseling and education typically have the necessary background to act as a mediator. Several professional organizations offer certification and training programs in conflict management. Additionally, many universities and colleges offer similar course work and certificate programs.

Training as a conflict manager includes applying mediation techniques, communication skills and reflective listening. An internship is often needed to hone skills. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) provides free resources to assist interested individuals.

Currently, licensing requirements for practicing alternative dispute resolution vary by state. There are no standardized federal licensing requirements.

Both human resources and mediation positions can expect faster than average job growth over the next decade. A bachelor's degree and training in conflict management is required. Earning further formal education or certifications may improve an applicant's marketability.

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