What Degree Do You Need to Become an Arbitrator?


Filing a lawsuit is a common way to resolve a dispute, but it has its drawbacks. Time and money are two considerations. Additionally, the judge or jury may not have much background with the relevant customs or course-of-dealing in a particular field. An alternative way to resolve disputes is arbitration. Arbitration is typically cheaper and faster than a traditional lawsuit. Further, the parties can select an arbitrator who has experience in a particular field.


If the parties want to arbitrate a dispute and try to avoid formal legal proceedings in court, they can choose to file for arbitration. The exact process varies. In general, the parties submit a claim to an arbitration association, such as the American Arbitration Association, and select an arbitrator -- or arbitrators, if a panel of arbitrators is desired. The parties must agree to a particular arbitrator. Once the parties pick an arbitrator, hearings take place whereby the parties present evidence to the arbitrator who ultimately makes a decision as to the resolution of the case. If a party does not like the decision, they can still bring the dispute to court.

Educational Requirements

Most arbitrators have a legal degree and some experience in a particular field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, a commercial dispute arbitrator may have a law degree and past experience/education in business and commercial transactions. In order to obtain a law degree, the candidate must enroll in and complete law school. Entering law school generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the American Bar Association, law schools select candidates from “almost every academic discipline;” no particular major or specialization is required.

Arbitration Training

States vary with regard to specific arbitration training requirements. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2011, only five states – Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia – had formal certification programs. Other states may require the arbitrator to obtain licensure through a particular agency. Arbitration training provides the arbitrator with instruction on the dispute resolution process. According to the website ACResolution.org, arbitrators can train in specific areas of arbitration, such as commercial law or divorce.

State Laws

Interested candidates should check their state laws with regard to the specific requirements needed to become an arbitrator. Your state may require you to be an experienced attorney, for example -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can also align yourself with an arbitration association. The American Arbitration Association, for example, operates throughout the United States. You must comply with the organizations specific requirements to become a member.

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