Career Development

Mediator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Mediators are experts in conflict resolution. Their job is to help two or more parties to come to an agreement that satisfies everyone involved. They accomplish this by facilitating open dialogue, helping the parties understand each other’s motives and needs, and exploring creative solutions that address those needs.

Mediators are experts in conflict resolution. Their job is to help two or more parties to come to an agreement that satisfies everyone involved. They accomplish this by facilitating open dialogue, helping the parties understand each other’s motives and needs, and exploring creative solutions that address those needs.

Mediators may work in a variety of industries and serve all types of clients. They may represent union and management interests, legal parties in a civil law suit, or even parties involved in divorce proceedings. They may facilitate settlements at the request of a judge or they may work independently as a private mediator. In whatever capacity they work, mediators are experts at finding common ground between two seemingly opposing parties.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a mediator and what it takes to become one yourself.

Mediator Job Duties

A mediator is responsible for the following duties:

  • Analyzing the issues of a conflict or dispute to identify possible solutions
  • Facilitating communication between parties involved in the conflict by encouraging full participation, listening actively, and promoting empathy
  • Assisting in the development of solutions so that they are mutually agreeable to all parties involved in the conflict or dispute
  • Helping parties reach settlements that are legally binding, enforceable, and consistent with state laws
  • Scheduling meetings with both parties
  • Respecting confidentiality and maintaining the anonymity of all individuals involved in the mediation process, unless otherwise instructed by all parties or ordered by a court
  • Conducting interviews to gather additional information about the conflict
  • Producing a written report summarizing the conflict

Mediator Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for mediators is $53,210. The highest earners make over $155,000 per year.

Job opportunities for mediators are expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This is due to the growth in popularity of alternative dispute resolution techniques and procedures, which will lead to an increase in mediation cases.

Mediator Job Requirements

The requirements for a mediator are as follows:

Education: Most mediators have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as legal studies, business, finance, or communications. However, some employers may require a master’s degree in the field of mediation. Courses cover topics like dispute resolution, negotiation, mediation theory and ethics. Some states may require mediators to have a law degree. 

Training: Mediators should expect to undergo on-the-job training once they begin working with a company. On-the-job training allows an employer to explain their specific mediation needs and guidelines. If the mediator will be working as part of a team, this training allows the mediator to integrate seamlessly with their coworkers to become an efficient unit. During training, they may also receive instruction on how to follow certain protocols and processes.

Certifications & Licenses: Many states require mediation professionals to be licensed. Obtaining a license requires candidates to complete a certain amount of coursework and pass an exam on mediation techniques.

Mediator Skills

The job generally requires the following skills:

Ability to work in high-pressure situations: Mediators need the ability to remain calm and collected when faced with stressful situations.

Communication skills: Mediators must be able to clearly explain the mediation process to both parties, as well as give constructive feedback throughout the mediation process.

Conflict resolution skills: A mediator must possess excellent conflict resolution skills in order to help parties resolve their disputes without going to court.

Analytical skills: Mediators must be able to analyze a situation from multiple perspectives in order to create a win-win solution for all parties involved. 

Confidentiality: All information disclosed during mediation is confidential.

Knowledge of the law: Although a legal background is not strictly required for this position, it can help mediators understand the issues involved in more complex cases.

Mediator Work Environment

Mediators work for law firms, mediation centers, school districts, or non-profits. They often work alone in an office setting, but may also travel to meet with clients and other colleagues. Mediators spend long hours working with each party individually, making sure that everyone understands what is being asked of them before moving forward. The job does not require a lot of physical strength, but mediators do need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time. The job can sometimes be stressful because it deals with conflict between people.

Mediators normally hold regular office hours during the day, but they may need to spend evenings and weekends working on cases that require special attention.

Mediator Career Path

Getting Started

While new mediators work with the support of senior members of the profession, their first two years are likely to be filled with uncertainty. Mediators must familiarize themselves with mediation procedures and standards, and take time to develop their skills in communication and negotiation. They may work long hours in the beginning. Mediators who succeed usually have a natural ability for understanding people, an interest in human relationships, and a desire to make a difference.

Five Years Out

Five-year veterans have gained experience in a variety of situations. They have a good understanding of the demands of the field and a clear idea of how much time is required to successfully resolve cases. Most mediators have a sense of how to approach a case from different angles. Satisfaction is high among those who continue to mediate, as they feel that they are making a difference in people’s lives.

Ten Years Out

Mediators who remain in the field after ten years enjoy a wide range of responsibilities. Many have moved into training or research activities or have become consultants for local agencies or businesses. Others have developed private practices that bring them a steady income and free time for other pursuits. This career path has a high burnout rate, so only 20 percent of those who began it continue it beyond ten years. The rest find that long hours do not pay off in income or satisfaction.

Mediator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how mediators work. Mediators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increasing Importance of Virtual Mediation

The benefits of virtual mediation include flexibility, lower costs, and greater accessibility to parties involved in the dispute. This method also allows mediators to reach more people who might not otherwise have access to mediation services. 

While virtual mediation is still new, it has become increasingly popular over the past few years and is likely to continue to gain popularity in coming years as more people realize its potential.

Emphasis on Cultural Competency

In recent years, the number of international businesses has increased substantially, which has led to an increase in the need for mediators who can bridge cultural gaps between various parties.

In order to effectively mediate disputes that involve parties from different countries, it is important for mediators to have a solid understanding of each party’s culture and expectations regarding negotiation and conflict resolution.

Greater Focus on Community Outreach

As the role of a mediator continues to evolve, professionals in this field are becoming increasingly involved in community outreach and mentorship programs.

With the number of community mediation centers and court-based programs steadily increasing over the past decade, it is important for mediators to keep up with changes in these communities and build relationships with both sides of the case. 

How to Become a Mediator

1. Planning Your Career

If you’re interested in becoming a mediator, it’s important to remember that mediation is a very different job than other careers in the legal field. It requires an ability to listen and be impartial, which can take some getting used to.

If you think that this career might be right for you, consider attending a workshop or reading a book on the subject so that you can get a better sense of what it’s like to mediate disputes. It may also be helpful to work as an intern so that you can see how it all works in practice.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for mediators emphasize their problem-solving skills, ability to remain neutral, and interpersonal skills. When detailing your work history, it is useful to provide context on the industry of these businesses to provide depth to your experience. Present a history of using tools and techniques to resolve conflicts in a non-confrontational manner. 

In addition to listing your skills, be sure to list computer proficiency details including all the conflict resolution software packages that you have worked with. To highlight your value, if you have developed processes to improve accuracy or workflow, or if you contributed to reducing expenses, be sure to include these. You can also include any awards or accolades that you’ve received in the past such as exceptional customer service ratings.

3. Applying for Jobs

The best way to find a job as a mediator is to get your name out there. Join local associations related to the field, attend their meetings, and make connections with everyone you meet. Also, try connecting with people who work in the field on social media. If you don’t know anyone in the field personally, ask for help finding someone on LinkedIn or Facebook; if they can’t help you directly, they may be able to introduce you to someone who can.

It’s also a good idea to network with other mediators and to attend mediation training workshops and conferences. Look for opportunities to build your skills and make yourself stand out from the crowd. Research what organizations currently working in your field are doing. Visit their websites and LinkedIn pages, and see if you can connect with anyone who might be able to give you an insight into the business side of the organization. 

4. Ace the Interview

When applying for a position as a mediator, you should be prepared to discuss the various situations in which you have been a mediator. It will be important to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of what it takes to be a mediator and that you can convey this knowledge to the employer.

When talking about your experience, make sure you demonstrate how you were able to deal effectively with different stakeholders and clearly explain why their interests were protected. Additionally, describe the strategies you used to reach a resolution and how it related back to specific stakeholder concerns.

Finally, be prepared for questions regarding your personality and communication skills as well as your ability to work with people who have different opinions and values.

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