People come to the practice of mediation from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. It's not just lawyers who become mediators. Anyone with an interest in alternative dispute resolution, strong communication skills, and sharp problem-solving abilities can excel in this career.
Considering this path? In this post we're exploring some of the best reasons to become a mediator. These are the most common motivators for the students we work with in mediation training—and a good introduction to what the field is all about.
At the end of the post, we've included some information on how to earn a professional mediator designation, and key things to know about the training process. Let's get started!
1. Mediators Offer a welcome alternative to litigation
Litigation is costly, time-consuming, stressful, and rarely results in outcomes that benefit both parties. By contrast, mediation offers a much more "humane" process that is usually cheaper, and overall, more supportive.
Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and typically much faster than resolving conflict through the courts. Clients get to choose the time and meeting place, and the mediator works hard to diffuse tensions and ensure everyone has the chance to be heard.
Mediators dig below the surface, and deal with the underlying emotions, grievances, and root causes that drive conflict. The experience can be cathartic for participants. In many cases, parties leave with better communication skills and improved working relationships.
The same cannot necessarily be said for litigation! Plus, companies and organizations are increasingly motivated to hire mediators—in order to avoid the cost, negative publicity, and general distress caused by dragging disputes through the court.
2. Help people find relief from conflict, stress, and anger
Few things in life are more painful and corrosive than drawn-out conflicts, where parties are locked in their positions and unable to find any common ground.
Anyone who's suffered through a protracted workplace dispute, family conflict, or legal battle will confirm just how damaging the experience can be—on both practical and emotional levels.
When it comes to conflict resolution, a skilled mediator can be a real game-changer. They can coax people out of their respective corners, and open lines of communication that seemed closed for good.
A mediator doesn't decide the outcome of a dispute. He/she creates a space in which parties can come together, disucess the problem, and propose their own resolutions.
From deadlocked conflict to productive negotiation and meaningful outcomes: this is what mediators help people achieve. And it's probably the most compelling reason to become a mediator—truly helping people break free from anger, feel seen and heard, find some closure, and move on with their lives.
3. Mediation offers many areas of specialization
Mediation has numerous areas of practice. Are you particularly interested in workplace conflict? Or maybe you're drawn to family matters?
Mediators also work with community organizations, deal with contract disputes, handle personal injury actions, construction lien disputes, partnership dissolutions, and much more.
Mediators usually choose one or two areas of specialization and become experts in those fields—often basing their choice on prior professional experience.
Mediation instructor, Louie Spedaliere LL.B, says there's tremendous diversity in this field.
"People from many different professional backgrounds are drawn to careers in mediation. My students come from law, health care, social services, education, human resources...They use that prior knowledge and experience to enhance their practice as mediators."
4. Learn skills that enrich every area of your life
Skilled mediators are masters of communication. They know how to "read" people, diffuse tension, manage their own emotions, and facilitate open discussions.
Mediators can shift conflicts away from finger-pointing, shaming, and blaming. They help people focus on mutually beneficial outcomes and interests.
Mediators are very sharp critical thinkers and problem-solvers. They are trained to conceptualize issues from many angles, and are naturally empathetic and intuitive.
There is also an important element of self-reflection and self-awareness in this line of work. Mediators must be careful about personal biases and other factors that may compromise their objectivity. They have well-developed mental and emotional discipline.
These are incredibly valuable (and transferrable) skills for virtually every area of work and life.
5. Become an entrepreneur and start your own mediation practice
On the practical side, becoming a mediator offers you the opportunity to start your own business—and focus on the cases you feel most passionate about.
You can strike out on your own, or team up with an existing mediation practice. But this isn't your only employment option.
Mediators can also find work through public bodies, such as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Social Justice Tribunals, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Next Steps: Learn more about mediation training
If you're interested in becoming a mediator, and want to understand how that process works in Canada, there are a couple of key things to know.
First, mediation as a profession is not regulated in Canada—but we do have an association that accredits training programs and awards designations to qualified professional mediators. It's called the ADR Institute of Canada.
The ADR Institute offers two levels of designation for mediators:
- Entry level: Qualified Mediator (Q. Med.) Designation
- Advanced: Chartered Mediator (C. Med.) Designation
The ADR sets strict standards for training and professional practice, and is respected across the country. You will need their stamp of approval to build a successful career in this field. So, earning the Q. Med. designation is the first order of business for aspiring mediators.
Step one is to enrol in a mediation training program that has been accredited by the ADR Institute. Only graduates from accredited programs can apply for designations.
Your training will cover the basic educational requirements set out by the ADR Institute, so after graduating, you will be eligible to become a Qualified Mediator.
At Kompass, we offer a 12-week, ADR-accredited online mediation certificate. This training combines theory with live discussion groups and role play to teach fundamental mediation skills.
Use the links below to explore the program, chat live with an advisor, and see if this training is right for you. We're here to help!