How to Become a Mediator

Three Parts:Studying to Become a MediatorGetting an InternshipEstablishing Your Reputation

A mediator is a person, frequently court appointed, that acts as an intermediary between parties in litigation who attempts to help the parties settle the case. While there are a lot of people who want to be mediators, you can make your chances of becoming one higher by getting a good education and lots of experience.

Part 1
Studying to Become a Mediator

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    Look into the different types of mediation work. There are tons of different areas or niches for mediation work. There is no one single way to become a generalized mediator. What you learn, where you look, who you network with are all going to be dependent on what type of mediating you decide to do.[1]
    • For example, if you wanted to go into family mediation (dealing with children, with divorce, domestic violence, and so on) you would need to be certified in behavioral or social sciences as well as in child development.
    • Mediating workplace disputes would require knowledge specific to the workplace and to the laws and practices therein. It's even better if you have experience dealing with matters particular to that specific workplace, or type of workplace (for example, dealing specifically with factory issues, or mining litigation).
    • Other types of mediation niches include: environmental, art, education, malpractice, criminal justice, landlord/tenant, gay/lesbian, and so on.
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    Talk to someone who is a mediator. The best way to get a feel for what is required of a mediator is to talk to someone who is or has done it. It's especially good to find someone in your specific area. While talking to someone who mediates art disputes could be informative, it won't have the same information needed if you're looking to go into workplace disputes.
    • Go to conferences. There are tons of conferences devoted to mediation all around the world. Check and see if there are any in your area (for the U.S., for example, Chicago, New York, and various parts of California hold large mediation conferences yearly).[2]
    • Get a feel for how the system works. When you do meet with someone who is a mediator, you'll want to find out how the system works so you can be as effective as you possibly can. This includes finding out what the work environment is like, what their advice is for getting established, and who decides which mediators are established.
    • Get a feel for what you need to know. Ask them about the types of laws, and rules you'll need to know, and education background that you'll need to have.
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    Get a master’s degree in your chosen field. Depending on the niche you decided to work in you may not need a master's degree, but it can definitely help your credentials. Proving that you have experience with the topic is important if you want to be successful as a mediator.[3]
    • Remember that if you wanted to mediate in Family Law, you would need a background (preferably a master's or a PhD) in behavioral or social sciences as well as family and child development. It's also not a bad idea to get a degree in conflict resolution, as universities and colleges are increasingly offering this opportunity,
    • If you decided to be a civil, general equity, or probate mediator you would need to have at least five years of professional experience in your field of expertise as well as an advanced degree and a minimum of two successfully mediated cases within the last year, or an undergraduate degree and a minimum of ten successfully mediated cases within the last five years.
    • Often if you get your PhD in your chosen subject the courts waive your need to have a certain number of successfully mediated case. Either that or the reduce the amount of successfully mediated cases you need to have.
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    Consider getting certified. Mediation doesn't require any specific qualifications (except in Florida which has qualification requirements). There are certain qualification classes you can take, but usually these only give you the qualification that you completed the course, without guaranteeing that you are actually a certified mediator.[4]
    • You should go to school in your chosen field (art mediation, or law mediation, environmental mediation) and get a degree that shows you know that area well.
    • Having a law degree can be incredibly useful, because it shows that you know and understand law, especially laws in a particular area.
    • To get listed as a professional you typically have to have several years of experience with mediation (internship, community mediation volunteer, etc.).

Part 2
Getting an Internship

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    Take a mediator internship. This is a fantastic way to get experience, make connections, and learn more about mediation. It's best to find an internship with a mediator in your niche, but one that is similar (but not the same) can still be immensely valuable.
    • Don't become discouraged if it takes you a bit to find an internship. There are a dearth of internships compared to people who are looking for them.
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    Find an internship. You may have to do some digging to find a mediation internship, but there are some really useful resources out there! Of course, the best way is always to create a personal connection, but there are resources and lists on the internet, as well.
    • Find one through resources on the internet. The International Mediation Institute has an off-shoot program called Young Mediators' Initiative, which seeks to connect young mediators with internships and information. There are programs like that all through lots of different groups. Check out one in your area.[5][6]
    • Find one through a lecture/presentation. If there are mediation classes or lectures in your area, go to them. Chances are you will meet someone who can hook you up with information about local internships. If you're in college or in a PhD program, talk to your professors or career counselors.
    • Find one at a conference. It's important to go to conferences about mediation, especially conferences about your specific area of mediation. Talk to people who you know are involved in your area of mediation and see if they can point you in the direction of an internship.[7]
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    Observe a mediation. You will probably observe at least a few mediations while you're in your internship. Even if you can't find an internship you can talk to local mediators in your area to see if you can sit in on a few of their mediation cases.
    • Remember, that if you do sit in on a mediation you'll probably have to sign confidentiality waivers, but this is good practice for the future when you're a fully fledged mediator.
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    Get the most out of your internship. After going through all the trouble to secure an internship you'll need to make sure that you use it wisely. Internships are great places for learning under supervision and getting hands-on experience, as well as making connections with potential colleagues and clients.
    • Make sure you know what the expectations are. If you have these lofty visions of mediating your first cases, only to find out that your duties include doing a lot of copying and putting together packets, you're going to be disappointed. Hash out the details of your internship before you start so you know what to expect.
    • If there's a problem, or something is not going well, make sure to talk with your supervisor. There's nothing worse than having bad things foul up your internship. If the expectations aren't getting met, or there are other problems, make sure that you talk to your mentor or supervisor and if they are part of the problem, go to someone who can help you in the organization.
    • Build connections with the people you meet during your internship. Ask them for letters of recommendation, or to serve as your references as you move on to establishing your reputation and skill in mediation.
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    Get feedback from your mentor. This is incredibly important, because you want to make sure that your strengths and weaknesses are being evaluated by someone who knows what to look for. Try to set up a regular time to meet with your mentor after mediations you've been involved in so you can see what you have to work on.[8]
    • Set this feedback loop up before you start your internship so your mentor has time to get prepared to pay attention to how you're doing and what could be improved. Don't spring this request on them immediately preceding your mediation case.

Part 3
Establishing Your Reputation

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    Practice until you’re confident in your skills. If you want other people to recommend you for jobs and pick you to be their mediator you have to be confident in your skills. This means constantly improving and honing your abilities, constantly learning new skills and new ways of mediating.[9]
    • Take on classes that do role-play. You can participate in classes in your area, or you can do this with other mediators if you start up or join a study group. Role-playing cases can help you get a feel for the best ways to mediate.
    • Volunteer to be a community mediator. There are lots of programs, typically with courts, that allow you to be a volunteer mediator. This is a great way to get more experience, as well as make connections.
    • Practice mediator skills day to day. This includes constantly thinking of re-framing problems, staying calm in the face of conflict, juggling opposing views without adhering to one or the other.
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    Join an established meditation program. There are mediation programs affiliated with courts and there are national organizations as well as a local organizations. Which you choose will be dependent on what your needs are. If you're looking to be affiliated with a court, you might start there.
    • A lot of these established programs offer arbitration training, usually in a voluntary capacity.
    • This is also a great place to find a more experienced mediator to do a co-mediation with, so that you start to feel more comfortable with the skills needed.
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    Handle your first case. Mediation can be difficult for the mediator. You have to stay calm and impartial, and offer up potential solutions. This requires a lot of on-the-spot thinking as well as good preparation.[10]
    • Expect the unexpected. No matter how well-prepared you are, one or another of the sides in the mediation case is going to bring something to the table that you weren't expecting. If you're expecting that there will be unforeseen developments you might be surprised, but you won't be caught off-guard.
    • Listen, listen, listen. Part of your job is to make sure that both sides feel like they've been heard by an impartial observer. Make sure you understand exactly what each side is saying in their arguments and that you show both sides that you're committed to hearing them both.
    • Be prepared to say things that the opposing parties might not want to hear. While you aren't giving any verdicts (mediation is different than arbitration), you may be called upon to analyze a situation in a way that the people involved might not approve.
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    Take as many cases as you can manage. The more working experience you get, the better you'll get. This will help you to improve your own abilities as well as expand your potential client and partner network.
    • Try to stick to specific types of cases. The absolute best scenario is that you mostly Try to do cases that are part of your niche. This isn't always possible, however, and you may have to take on cases that aren't exactly your field.
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    Form a mediation study group. It's important to keep learning and to keep examining your abilities and approaches. A good way to do this is to form or join a mediator study group where you can discuss cases and skills and hypothetical situations with people who can help you.
    • A mediation study group is also a great way to get to know other mediators or potential mediators.
    • This provides you with the opportunity to discuss skills, successes, roadblocks and to see what other qualified mediators have to say about your approaches.


  • Part of being a good mediator is that your learning is ongoing. You can find good online courses to keep your skills sharp, or you can participate in local classes and courses.[11]


  • There are a lot of people seeking mediation positions, so finding one can be a bit of a challenge. The better you network with other mediators and people who deal with law and arbitration cases the more likely you are to find mediation jobs.[12]

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