Starting a Career in Mediation? 5 Key Facts About the ADR Institute

Posted by Herzing Blog on Oct 21, 2019 10:03:49 AM

Updated October 2022

Mediation is not a regulated profession in Canada. There is no specific degree, diploma, or certificate you must have to start a career in mediation. 

That being said, most successful mediators have earned designations through the ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC)—the country’s leading alternative dispute resolution organization. 

Both mediators and arbitrators can earn different kinds of professional designations through the Institute, depending on their educational qualifications and experience in the field. 

Which designations are available for mediators? How does one qualify? What is involved in gaining membership with the ADR Institute, and what can you expect in return? 

These are 5 quick facts every aspiring mediator should know about the ADR Institute—and laying the groundwork for a successful career in alternative dispute resolution.  

1. What is the purpose of the ADR Institute? 

The ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) focuses on promoting a high standard of professional practice for mediators and arbitrators. They do this by setting strict standards for training, membership, and conduct—and helping the public connect with qualified mediators and arbitrators. 

ADRIC is also a watchdog for consumers, with a clearly defined complaint and discipline process. Clients can report unethical or unprofessional mediators/arbitrators, and members can be penalized or expelled from the Institute. 

Here's how the Institute defines its mission: 

“ADRIC sets the standard for best practices for ADR in Canada...We provide education and certification, promote ethical standards and professional competency, and advocate for all forms of ADR for public and private disputes.”


2. What are the different mediation certifications? 

ADRIC offers two levels of certification for mediators. One is an entry-level designation; the other is more advanced and requires a considerable amount of professional experience.  

Here is a look at both levels, and the requirements for each. 

☑️ Level 1: Qualified Mediator (Q. Med) designation 

  • 40 hours of recognized mediation training 
  • Completion of certain advanced, or elective, courses 
  • Successful completion of 2 mediations (these could be part of your training program, and assessed by your instructor) 
  • Acceptance as a member of the ADR Institute (both the national association, and your provincial affiliate) 

Click to see a complete list of Q. Med requirements. 


☑️ Level 2: Chartered Mediator (C. Med) designation 

  • Minimum 80 hours mediation theory and skills training in an approved program 
  • Additional 100 hours of specialized training 
  • Completion of at least 15 paid mediations 
  • An assessment of your mediation skills in action, conducted by three Chartered Mediators 
  • Acceptance as a member of the ADR Institute (both the national association, and your provincial affiliate) 

Click to see a complete list of C. Med requirements. 

Obviously, if you’re just beginning your mediation career you will be aiming for the Q. Med designation, which does not require extensive experience. But it’s important to note that achieving C. Med status will require additional training, a practical skills assessment, and a solid track record of successful mediations. 


3. How do you become a member of the ADR Institute? 

You can’t earn a mediator certification without becoming a member of the ADR Institute. In fact, you must become a member at both the national and regional levels. 

Every province/territory has an affiliate ADR Institute. You must join your local affiliate plus the ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC). 

Click here to see a list of regional affiliates. 

For example, the ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO) has 3 different levels of membership:  

  • Full Membership ($318 annual fee) 
  • Associate Membership ($126 annual fee) 
  • Student Membership ($64 annual fee) 

You must pay yearly dues to maintain your membership. All members must also complete an ethics course, but additional requirements vary by level. Full Members must be practising mediators who have fulfilled a certain number of training hours or years of experience. 

The Associate and Student memberships don’t require professional experience, but they do have certain training requirements which must be fulfilled. 

Click here to see detailed requirements for each level of membership. 


4. What are the benefits of membership?

What exactly do you get when you join the ADR Institute? Like most professional organizations, they offer perks like networking opportunities, the chance to market your services, and courses for professional development. 

Specific benefits of ADR Institute membership include: 

  • A free listing on ADR Connect, an online searchable database of ADR practitioners 
  • Access to the ADRIC Professional Liability Insurance Program  
  • Access to videoconferencing software, Zoom, through the ADR group plan 
  • Discounts on the ADRIC Annual National Conference and events, and training at any of ADRIC’s affiliates 
  • Opportunity to publish articles in the Canadian Arbitration and Mediation Journal 


5. How does the ADR Institute promote “self-regulation” of mediators? 

Since there is no official regulation of mediators and arbitrators in Canada, the ADR Institute strives to help ADR professionals regulate themselves. They do this by promoting a strict code of ethics and code of conduct. Members must agree to abide by these codes and can be penalized for any transgressions. 

The codes have stipulations and guidelines on a range of topics, including: 

  • Maintaining impartiality and objectivity during mediation 
  • The client’s right to confidentiality 
  • Abiding by applicable laws during mediation 
  • Standards of professional conduct and avoiding “impropriety” 
  • How to enter into an Agreement to Mediation 
  • How to terminate or suspend a mediation 
  • Setting fees for mediation 
  • Guidelines for advertising and marketing mediation services 

Members are meant to use these codes to guide their practice, protect the integrity of the ADR profession, and deal with any challenging situations that may arise. It is a framework for regulating and standardizing the practice of alternative dispute resolution, all across Canada. 


Learn more about mediation training and careers 

If you’re considering starting a career in mediation, your first step is to select a training program that is approved by the ADR Institute. Only approved programs are accepted as meeting the educational requirements for the Qualified Mediator (Q. Med) designation. 

There are quite a few options out there. There are mediation courses available through universities, colleges, and professional development organizations. You can find online mediation training, on-ground classes, or hybrid programs that blend the two. 

The core curriculum should be quite similar across the board (if the program is approved by ADRIC); however, additional coursework and electives will vary, so you can choose the program that best matches your personal interests and career goals. 

Kompass Professional Development offers a 12-week online mediation certificate. The program is taught by Hayley MacPhail, a skilled ADR professional with over 20 years of experience as a mediator and educator. 

Learn more about Hayley and the mediation program in this interview: Instructor Hayley MacPhail Explains Mediation Training and Careers 

Click below to browse the mediation certificate, see a detailed course list, and chat live with an advisor. We’re here to help! 

Explore the Mediation & Dispute Resolution Certificate


Topics: mediation

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