If you seek a career in conflict resolution (as a mediator) apart from your personal benefits. You need to understand the importance of it. You are assisting both, your future clients and the entire judicial system by helping people find reasonable solutions for their disputes before they turn into lawsuits.
What is a mediator?
Let’s start the article by explaining the actual term. A mediator collaborates with two parties in dispute to navigate them and encourage during the process of finding the best solution for a dispute. Quite similar to a good therapist, a mediator will not tell the parties how to resolve an issue. However, he will lead them to come to a conclusion themselves. They can assist the parties in the field of family dispute, business arbitration, civil conflict etc. As long as they do not involve criminal matters. In some jurisdictions, only violent criminal cases cannot be a subject of mediation.
Who can become a mediator?
Mediators are traditionally lawyers and judges, however, this is not a requirement. Anyone with appropriate skills, proper training and experience can become a successful mediator. While those who practice law may have an upper hand in the sense of knowledge and fewer limitations, no one confident enough to want to become one should be discouraged. While mediation, particularly in family disputes, may seem like post-marriage counselling, you do not have to be a psychologist nor a psychiatrist to practice as a mediator.
Which skills are required?
The skills are what truly qualifies you for the job. You have to be empathic and truly understand an issue from both perspectives. There is no situation in which you should consider that taking sides is the right thing to do. By doing so, you could only help conflict develop further. In some cases, it will be hard enough to convince people, who are very emotional at this stage, that you are not taking sides so it is truly important not to. You have to be patient, honest, and trustworthy with high-level communication and negotiation skills.
How do you become a certified negotiator?
You do not. No state has yet established certification criteria for a private mediator. Some state courts, on the other hand, do have a certification method for those professionals with referrals from their mediation programs or those who assist them. Also, certain professional associations certify some of their members. However, at this point, that type of certification is not recognized by any state and can merely serve as a recommendation or guarantee of good practice.
What does the training involve?
Each state has its own rules when it comes to requirements. However, they all on average require 40 hours of mediation training. The basic training involves skills in lines of conflict management, conflict behaviour, communication and negotiation skills. You can find the training through community mediation programs, programs available as a part of further education skills at a number of universities and private organizations. Beware of the private organizations who offer certification since, as mentioned above, there are no real standards as yet.
Look for recommendations among some of the best mediators known to you when selecting the right training as not all of them provide the same quality insight. Also, look for those who can help you acquire reputable connections and build a professional network. After you complete the basic training, find those who provide advanced knowledge and seek further education. You can never be too skilful.
Where to go from there and how quickly will it pay off?
There is no real answer to this. As with any new business, you can expect that it will take time before it becomes your sole source of income. Also, you have to stay competitive, which in this case means that you need to gain as much experience as possible to build a career and a reputation. Refer to the organization which facilitated your training and ask them whether they are aware of any job opportunities available in your area. Use your connections to get referrals.
If you are an eager peacemaker who cares about people, this may be the right job for you. However, bear in mind that the 40 hours of training does not make you a capable professional and that you will need to keep on investing in constant learning and gaining experience.