Mediator Job Description
The goal of mediators is to avoid formal legal intervention as they work with people in conflict, helping them reach an agreement through negotiation, communication, and conflict resolution techniques. They work in the government and the private sector; some may choose to work for themselves as independent contractors.
Mediator Duties and Responsibilities
Whether working for themselves or an organization, mediators perform basic core duties. These include:
Mediators are third-party professionals who facilitate constructive communication between two parties in disagreement with each other by keeping each side calm and allowing each to feel that they are being heard and addressed.
Aid in Resolving Disputes
Using dispute resolution techniques, mediators create an environment that allows parties to reach a solution that is acceptable to both sides.
Mediators arrange meetings between parties to get them talking to each other, usually choosing neutral sites that are non-threatening to both sides.
Mediators conduct interviews with each side, researching the problem to gain a better understanding of how to solve it.
Mediators write settlement agreements, briefs, and other legal documents to bring both sides to a binding resolution that each finds acceptable.
Mediator Skills and Qualifications
Mediators are patient professionals who display a calm demeanor in the face of others’ passionate feelings while listening to arguments and facilitating resolution of problems. Employees and individuals who hire mediators look for professionals who can display these essential skills of the job:
- Communication – mediators need strong writing and active listening abilities, as well as negotiation skills
- People skills – to keep people calm in a highly stressful situation and to get them to keep talking in spite of the high levels of emotion they are experiencing
- Dispute resolution skills – to settle disputes, prevent labor strikes, reduce litigation costs, and stop existing problems from otherwise accelerating, finding resolutions to complex issues
- Computer skills – in order to perform basic job duties, mediators must know how to use word processing and spreadsheet software to create documents and presentations, which requires at least basic computer skills.
- Critical thinking – mediators analyze problems and look for satisfying solutions by applying critical thinking strategies to bring two parties together and get each party to see the logic of all arguments.
Mediator Education and Training
Mediators do not need to meet any special education requirements or undergo any specialized training to perform their basis duties, but having a basic knowledge of the law and some understanding of legal language can help individuals excel in this career. Many employers seek mediators who have prior experience in mediation and/or crisis resolution when seeking full-time employees for this position.
Mediator Salary and Outlook
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators earned a median salary of $59,770 yearly and $28.74 hourly in 2016, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2016, there were almost 8,000 jobs available for arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators, a number that is rising faster than the national job growth average. Jobs in this career path are expected to rise by 10 percent through 2026.
Mediators who find full-time employment through a government agency or private business usually receive health, dental, and vision insurance benefits as a standard perk. Companies may also provide mediators with life insurance and retirement benefits packages. However, mediators who work for themselves as independent contractors do not receive any benefits, and must manage their own insurance costs, schedule their own vacation time, and see to their own retirement and life insurance needs.
Learn how to become a successful mediator and find career support information with these books and websites:
National Association of Certified Mediators – NACM offers information about training and certification programs for mediators, as well as continuing education resources, and information about becoming a successful mediator.
The Mediator’s Handbook: Revised & Expanded fourth edition – begin to master the skills of conflict resolution using this handbook, which contains tips for assessing conflicts, negotiating solutions, and facilitating communication.
The Association for Conflict Resolution – visit ACR to find information about professional liability insurance for mediators, mediation education resources, and job opportunities for professional mediators.
Expert Mediators: Overcoming Mediation Challenges in Workplace, Family, and Community Conflicts – this book takes tips and data from 175 mediators and distills it down into useful information for professional mediators of all kinds, offering strategies and tips that lead to successful mediation solutions.
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