You are at: [Mediation Services] [  > FAQ] -- [Recommended Mediation Books / Click here to Search this site]

FAQ -- I'd like to be a mediator, can you just answer a few questions … ?

This is written to answer the typical questions. Starting with a sample letter:

"I am writing to investigate alternative dispute resolution as a potential avenue of future career development for myself. I am 33 years old with a B.S. degree in psychology and 10 years of work experience in various social work and human services capacities. I have been considering returning to school for some time. In exploring possible areas of emphasis, I have become aware of ADR as a possible growing field or profession. I have had some limited encounters with mediation through my job of the past two years. I have searched the internet for information regarding ADR. While this has provided an array of resources and basic information, it has also left me with some questions. If you could find the time to answer those you are familiar with, I would be grateful."

The usual question is always very similar to that one above. It is often broken down into sub-parts:

"What market currently exists for ADR? In what capacities are mediators being utilized?"

Mediators are being used in almost every capacity imaginable. See the essay "What is Mediation" (linked to from and realize that every thing that is "mediation" is done by mediators. There is a huge market, especially for "pro bono" services ("pro bono" short for "pro bono publico" is the label for services provided by a person for free, as an unpaid volunteer).  If you are not interested in being a volunteer, then read this guest editorial (used with permission).  To see what typical training is like, visit forty hour class outline.

"What credentials in a mediator are most sought out or most attractive? Does training/education one field (e.g. law) outweigh that in another (e.g. psychology)?"

This depends on who you are marketing your services to. If you want to do mediation in schools, you need to have a teaching degree. If you want to mediate family conflicts in the context of counseling sessions, psychology. If you want to mediate disputes referred to you by judges, law.

"What degree of mediation training is currently typical for those practicing ADR?" What are the best educational programs existing which teach ADR? Are there any degree programs for ADR? What are the pros and cons of a degree vs. certification?"

Most mediators have a "40 hour" certificate -- in theory, forty classroom hours. Many (if not most) "40 hour" programs are actually about twenty four to thirty class roomhours and a couple-three observed mediations. For degree programs, visit the web sites of the listed schools at There are undergraduate and graduate degrees, including three L.L.M. programs with more in the wings. ICAR at George Mason and Nova Southeastern offer traditional Ph.D. programs.

"Which is best?"

Ah, that depends on what you want to do with the education you receive.

"Is there any professional organization or network of mediators, such as a national organization that promotes the profession, arranges continuing training, etc?"

Well, SPIDR would like to be that organization. They are doing more than anyone else and making great strides. The ABA (American Bar Association) ADR section is also making serious efforts (you do not need to be an attorney to join).

"Where is the profession currently headed? Is growth anticipated? If so, in which areas? What monetary compensation do mediators typically receive for their services? Who pays?"

The profession continues to grow. Mediators may be working pro bono (in which case they are not paid with money) or on salary or by the hour or session. Salaries seem to average around $25,000.00 a year. Session charges run from $3,000.00 to $100.00 a side per day.  Continuous job listings are at the ICAR listserve [subscribe], and some sample listings are on-line.  

"In what ways are mediators typically employed? Are there anticipated growth areas? (Examples: Do they mostly find work as independent professionals or are they employees of organizations? What kinds of organizations, if any, currently employ mediators: law firms, governments, corporations, non-profit organizations?)"


"What resources would you recommend for further investigating ADR?  A discussion group, professional organization, a newsletter, a training seminar?  What do you recommend?"

I would join the listserves. Go to and scroll to the bottom of the page. Join every listserve and listen to the discussions for at least a week before asking any questions. I would also visit the web sites for ICAR (George Mason) and NSE (Nova South Eastern). From there, it is a matter of what your preferences as to what kind of investigation you should make.  The listserves have job information.  This link is to the best job I have seen posted, most jobs are in the $18,000.00 to $28,000.00 a year range and have over a hundred applicants for every opening ...

As for groups, I would advise you to join SPIDR. Let me repeat. Join SPIDR.  You can visit their web site at wherever they've moved SPIDR -- I also like the New England SPIDR web site.  In addition to SPIDR, you might want to consider the ABA's ADR Section -- you don't have to be an attorney to join.  The web site is at .

Subscribe to a good publication -- The Alternative Newsletter by Professor Boskey at Seton Hall, -- is only $15.00 a year.  With Professor Boskey's tragic death, there is a group that intends to make a valiant effort keeping it going and has been doing a great job.  If you want to locate training programs, books, recent trends in the ADR area or just learn a little, this newsletter is the best resource available. If you want to teach yourself, I've put together resources, and a proposed undergraduate syllabus.

Buy a good book.  I can recommend two, The Mediator's Handbook and The Art of Mediation.  You can order them both at link.  Links and pictures of the covers for the books are below.

"I have my graduate degree in Dispute Resolution from Oxford and I'm a law student at Chicago.  Is your firm interested in having me work for you, even as a paralegal at minimum wage? "

Unfortunately, the law firm I work for does not hire associates (though your credentials are the best anyone has heard of).

The Mediator's Handbook Tools and guidance for any mediator.
By Jennifer E. Beer, Eileen Stief, Friends Conflict Resoltuion Programs.

The complete handbook for any mediator.  Under twenty dollars new, under ten dollars used.

Available at

Finally, I would recommend that you subscribe to my free e-mail newsletter at

I am truly appreciative for any information that are able to share. I have been exploring ADR for awhile and am kind of excited about it, but feel that I need a better idea regarding future growth, as well as a realistic understanding of "employment" possibilities.

Thank you for your help. If I can reciprocate in any way, please let me know.


--------------- top

Postscript One

Most of this FAQ is on how to find employment and what employment is in the ADR area.  If you haven't already read the General FAQ, read it now.  It addresses what you should know both after completing training as well as before.  The bottom line is that there are few paid jobs in mediation working as a mediator, but many volunteer opportunities and the training offers a great deal of value for consultants, H.R. personnel, etc..  It is possible to build a mediation career and their is a good book on the subject Mediation Career Guide -- get a copy and read it.  If you want a second opinion, visit and   For the final word, read Ethical Duties of Mediation Trainers in the Promotion of Training Programs and What Good is an Arbitration Class?

While I get a number of e-mails asking all or parts of the above questions from people considering mediation, the surprising bulk of the questions come from people who have completed training from a "40 hour course" provider and who now want to know how to get work.  If no one told you how to find employment, I would suggest that you contact your local bar association's dispute resolution section (you don't have to be an attorney to join), the local chapter of SPIDR and drop by your local universities and clinics.  If you are thinking of taking classes, read "WHAT GOOD IS A DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM?."  Buy the book (just click on the picture of the cover), Marketing Without Advertising as soon as you've finished reading the Mediation Career Guide (click on the picture of the cover to read about and buy the book).  

I personally feel that if you are running a training program, you should prepare a FAQ similar to this one. Every one of your prospective students is owed this information before they put down their tuition.   For more read Ethical Duties of Mediation Trainers in the Promotion of Training Programs -- an editorial that agrees with me, with more force.

If you disagree, have other suggestions, or have ideas as to what you think I should add, I would appreciate your feedback and advice.

For more, see why.htm.  If you want to become a lawyer, visit law0/index.htm. top

Postscript Two

The number one source of telephone calls and a substantial number of e-mails now involve requests for permission to use material on this site.  My fair use policy is as follows:  for non-commercial use you are free to use anything I have written with my blessing as long as you note my copyright and authorship and mail me a copy of whatever you produce.  If you do not mail me a copy, the license is withdrawn and the use fee is the same as the statutory damages under the copyright law.  To use any other author's work, please contact that author for permission and terms.  I would appreciate a copy of any written materials used where my materials are used -- especially copies of the material I did not author.  I am always interested in other people's perspectives, thoughts and writings -- both for myself and to add to the materials on this web site (if I am able to obtain permission).

Please call me prior to commercial use to discuss terms and conditions, but for internal non-profit use, seminars, magazine republication and classes, you've my blessing and encouragement.  I'll even possibly forgive you for not sending me copies, though my e-mail contact information is here: so there is no excuse for not contacting me.  

Finally, if you want to use my material on your web site, call me and we will talk.  I understand why people mirror and clone, but I dislike mirroring if done on a massive scale (i.e. more than four or five articles -- I don't mind archive copies , or a page or two here or there -- that seems like fair use to me) and disapprove of cloning (these are technical terms as applied to websites) and the default contractual duty for any cloning or mirroring done without permission is the duty to pay what would be the maximum statutory damages on a page by page basis -- that is, such a use is a contract to pay $250,000.00 per page cloned per day cloned, payable at my office address in Texas. You agree to waive soveriegn immunity and to arbitration if a governmental entity as you agree that (a) you have contractual duties and (b) that it is a fifth amendment taking for which proper compensation is as defined by the contract, above. I don't like cloning and mirroring.  Use or continuing use is an acceptance of these contract terms and a waiver of any defenses or objections, including jurisdiction.  You also agree that any conflict arising out of this web site is subject to binding arbitration under the rules I determine to be appropriate on a case by case basis. top

Postscript Three

Not all that long ago, a group reviewed this site, ranked it in the top one hundred small firm legal sites and had a strong criticism because the site is not strongly tied to my identity.  Often I receive feedback, comments or questions from people reared in the "context is everything" school who feel you can not separate the person from the writing.  

So, like all things that end up on my screen too often, this goes into the FAQ.  If you feel a need to know more about me, I have a personal philosophy section of this web site (not connected to the dispute resolution section) and a section based on my personal experiences that receives about ten thousand hits a month from people completely uninterested in dispute resolution.  I am also a working professional and I teach a little dispute resolution.  Links to those of my website are here:

That is more than enough about me. top

Postscript Four

The Mediator's Handbook Tools and guidance for any mediator.
By Jennifer E. Beer, Eileen Stief, Friends Conflict Resoltuion Programs.

The complete handbook for any mediator.  Under twenty dollars new, under ten dollars used.

Available at

Copyright 1999-2008  Stephen R. Marsh
All rights Reserved
Terms of Use [home]

Mediation Essays

Mediation Topics

Mediation Centers

Advanced Topics

Bulletin Board

ADR Links

More ADR Links


E-Mail to Author

Author's Home Page

Search the Site

This Website is by Stephen R. Marsh
Contact Information at: