The requirements for becoming a professional mediator may differ from place to place. In many areas, there are no laws governing mediator training, and an individual doesn't need a specific degree, license, or certification in order to become a mediator. A prospective mediator, however, may have to seek both training and experience in order to secure clients or find companies willing to employ him. Prospective clients and employers may feel uncomfortable with the prospect of hiring a mediator who doesn’t seem well-trained or knowledgeable.
A professional mediator is an individual who helps people solve disputes in a cooperative and voluntary manner. Mediators are impartial parties who guide conflict resolution sessions. Usually, they lack the power to impose agreements and solutions on their clients. Instead, they focus on helping each side to be heard, facilitating understanding of the opposing points of view, and crafting a collaborative agreement.
To become a professional mediator, an individual’s first step is checking the mediation laws in his area. This will help him learn the exact requirements for mediators in his region. In some places, a degree in law may be required or recommended. Other jurisdictions may require prospective mediators to seek degrees in psychology or social science.
The laws regarding mediator qualifications may also vary depending on where a prospective mediator plans to practice. If he plans to become a professional mediator and start his own business or work for a company, the qualifications may be less strict. Mediators who intend to work in a court system may need degrees as well as extensive experience and training, however.
In order to show prospective clients that he’s qualified, an individual will typically need to seek training that covers theories, practices, and ethical concerns of mediation. Many training programs require between 30 to 40 hours for completion, but training program length does vary. An individual who hopes to become a mediator may seek training recommendations from mediation and conflict-resolution associations as well as from organizations that certify or employ mediators. A prospective mediator may even learn about training programs by contacting a local court that works with mediators.
Prospective mediators may find it helpful to observe a mediation session or two. This can be difficult to arrange, however, as mediation is usually confidential. In some cases, experienced mediators may obtain permission from their clients to have a mediation trainee observe their sessions. Aspiring mediators may also find ways of gaining valuable experience before they try to get jobs or start their own businesses. For example, they may participate in role-playing or mock mediation sessions or volunteer to help parties resolve their conflicts for free.