Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that people sometimes choose or are required to do, instead of resolving their differences in court. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 8,110 individuals employed as mediators in 2009. These individuals made a median salary of $52,770, and the highest-paid mediators made more than $109,950 per year, according to the bureau. Becoming a mediator requires excellent communication skills and specialized mediation education and training.
The education required to become a mediator can vary greatly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mediators can obtain training through colleges, universities, mediation organizations and state-funded mediation programs. Those who plan on working in state-funded mediation programs typically have to meet specific education and training requirements. For most state-funded mediation programs, an aspiring mediator needs to complete about 40 hours of basic mediation education and 20 hours of advanced education. Mediators can also obtain education in the form of a certificate or degree program.
Licensing requirements for mediators are as varied as the education and training requirements. This is due to the fact that individual states their own requirements. According to the bureau, some states require that mediators have an education in law and be practicing lawyers. In some states, certification by the state is necessary, rather than licensing. In yet other cases, mediators can simply seek third-party certification through an organization like the American Arbitration Association.
Aside from learning the art of mediation through a formal training program, mediators need to have knowledge of the fields of mediation in which they work. This is especially true of mediators who choose to specialize in one field of mediation work. For instance, mediators who specialize in insurance mediation need to have specific knowledge of the insurance industry. Mediators also need to have a good knowledge of the law, with an understanding of what can and cannot be determined or completed through the mediation process.
One of the most important skills that mediators need to have is the ability to effectively communicate. Mediators need to have a keen sensitivity to both sides of a dispute and an ability to listen carefully to determine which stipulations are most important to both sides in pursuit of a resolution. Mediators need to be able to understand and communicate arguments from both sides of a dispute. They also need to be able to use written communications to write opinions and decisions regarding cases they mediate.