Mediators settle disputes between people. Many people who want to start a career or business as a mediator complete a mediation certification program from an accredited institution. The purpose of mediation certification is to provide assurance to potential clients about the level of education and experience that the mediator has obtained.
The most common setting for mediation is legal, for disputes in civil court or family court. In many areas, formal mediation is mandatory for people requesting a divorce or filing a suit in small claims court. The role of the mediator is to provide an impartial third party who will listen to both sides and help them find a mutually agreeable resolution.
In order to obtain a position as a mediator, some type of mediation certification will be required by most employers. There is no single body that is responsible for the regulation of this profession. Instead, there are a series of associations and professional groups who work together to develop standards and communities of mediators. Many people who are drawn to this type of work have completed law school and are looking at alternative resolution methods for a way to solve disputes that is more satisfactory than the courts.
Although there is no strict guideline of acceptable education or training, an undergraduate degree generally is the minimum requirement. Post-graduate training in the law, human psychology, dispute resolution and negotiations are all very valuable. The amount of academic credit granted for these credentials varies among the different mediation certification programs. Anyone seeking a position as a mediator should take the time to research the options and select the program that provides the maximum credit for previous education.
Working experience is a standard component of the certification process. Typically, candidates are required to complete a set number of supervised mediation sessions as part of the program. Some programs have a specific number of hours in the different areas of mediation, while others have a more general guideline. People who want to become mediators should review the program requirements in detail and talk with the program administrator to ensure that they have the correct understanding before registering for the program. Some programs are focused on a specific aspect of mediation that might not be of interest to them.
A written examination of key theories and concepts is standard and usually is between three and four hours long. The subject matter includes ethics, professional standards, confidentiality and the law. Graduates are provided with mediation certification that identifies their year of completion and areas of focus.