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How do I Become an Ombudsman?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 17, 2024
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Someone who wants to become an ombudsman should first think about the different kinds of roles that these professionals play in organizations. There are many different types of ombudsman positions in different kinds of companies and businesses. Learning more about the traditional career of an ombudsman is one of the first steps to getting into this kind of role.

An ombudsman is an intermediary between an organization and the general public, or another specific audience or “constituency.” Some think of the ombudsman as a mediator; someone who is skilled in resolving difficult situations. The ombudsman is, in a sense, someone who takes complaints on behalf of their employer.

The ombudsman is a representative of a company, an organization, or even a country. A diplomatic ombudsman is part of a nation’s general representation abroad. A corporate ombudsman may respond to all kinds of issues regarding product liability, customer service, or any other aspect of how a company interacts with the public.

The term ombudsman is a somewhat antiquated term, taken from an old Norse word, that many people don’t really use anymore. Though the role of an ombudsman is largely a public one, other terms may be used in place of “ombudsman” in this kind of job position. Many people of recent generations probably know the term best in relation to newspapers, where a literary ombudsman takes complaints regarding any mistakes printed in a periodical.

In many cases, a specialized college degree may not be necessary for someone who wants to become an ombudsman. Instead, individuals can take short educational programs that will help them supplement skills learned on the job. Individuals who are already involved in human resources, customer service or liaison roles have a better chance to become an ombudsman by rising up through the ranks of a company. Likewise, individuals involved in international offices often have good chances of becoming national an ombudsman.

A group called the International Ombudsman Association maintains organizational resources and offers a Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner certification to aspiring career professionals. The same organization provides specialized coursework for those involved in making their way toward a career as an ombudsman. This agency and other similar associations help individuals get closer to their goal to become an ombudsman. Doing some in-depth research on different types of ombudsman jobs can often be the most effective way for someone to pursue this kind of job.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon246703 — On Feb 10, 2012

@anon92492: One misconception however, is that neutrality equals inaction. Neutrality should not be confused with inaction.

By anon92492 — On Jun 28, 2010

The first problem with this description is the sentence that begins with 'The ombudsman is a representative of a company...' The ombudsman does not represent the company they work with, nor do they represent the people that come to see them (in this case, employees). They represent the office/process of the Ombudsman. They are to be completely neutral in their role.

The office should follow the rules of conduct laid out by the IOA or the ABA.

By anon80772 — On Apr 28, 2010

I like to know who is over the ombudsman. what protocol do you make if and when they not doing their jobs. nprp

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