Mediators may learn their craft by completing professional courses in mediation. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that many of these state- or court-funded mediator training programs vary in court and state requirements. According to the BLS, basic mediation training lasts 40 hours, while advanced, intensive coursework may only take 20 hours. Both programs adhere to state- or court-mandated mediation training requirements. Students should verify their state's or court's mediation training and educational requirements before enrolling.
The BLS also reports the most common mediation training comes in the form of certificate programs. Depending on students' educational backgrounds, undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are available and usually take one semester to complete.
Graduate degree programs in conflict management, dispute resolution or public policy also lead to careers in mediation. Traditional law degree programs train mediation professionals as well. Many senior-level mediation positions require candidates to possess graduate, doctoral or law degrees for employment consideration. Master's programs are 2 years long, while J.D. programs require 3 years to complete.
Certificate in Mediation
Certificate programs in mediation prepare undergraduate or graduate professionals to solve disputes in the workplace, negotiate contracts and labor disputes and mediate family feuds.
Mediation certificate programs usually require completion of 12-15 credits of coursework in dispute resolution, workplace mediation, family mediation and negotiation. They also require students to test their mediation skills by completing supervised mediation practicums in courts, law offices or private mediation firms.
Master's Degree in Dispute Resolution Or Conflict Management
Aspiring mediators pursuing advanced degrees may choose to complete a master's degree program in dispute resolution or conflict management. These graduate degree programs include comprehensive courses in conflict management, dispute resolution and human resource management issues. Students take courses in mediation, negotiation strategies, business management, human resource management, public policy, ethics and law. Graduates may seek senior-level government or corporate mediator positions.
Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree
According to the BLS, many mediators are practicing lawyers. These attorneys develop sophisticated skills for arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution by completing law degree programs. Subsequently, they hone these acquired mediation skills each day in courts of law and in public and private negotiations and dispute resolution hearings. Law degree programs require graduates to pass state-mandated examinations for licensure.
Popular Career Options
Many employers train their employees in mediation and allow them to gain on-the-job experience in their existing workplace. Other employers or contractors require top-level mediator positions to be filled by professionals with several years' experience in mediation, conflict management or dispute resolution. Entry-level mediators often volunteer their services with community organizations or agencies in order to gain practical experience.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an employment growth of 6% for lawyers for the years 2014 through 2024 and a 9% employment growth for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators in the same period. The BLS also notes that the median annual wage for lawyers was $115,820 in 2015, while arbitrators, mediators and conciliators earned a median annual wage of $58,020 in the same year.
According to the BLS, mediators are not bound by national certification or licensure mandates. Each state abides by their own benchmarks for mediator training, educational requirements and licensing and certification guidelines.
Voluntary credentialing programs are also available through professional organizations, like the American Arbitration Association. This professional organization lists mediators who have completed the organization's official training program, received letters of recommendation and participated in an approved mediation apprenticeship.
Aspiring mediators can seek relevant training through certificate, master's, or J.D. degree programs, depending on their career goals. While mediators aren't required to be licensed federally, students should check the requirements held by the state in which they wish to practice.