Some mediators are retired from other careers, some work full time in this profession, and still others others have other jobs and mediate as volunteers in their free time. The one thing all mediators have in common is an interest in helping you resolve conflict in peaceful and productive ways.
Mediators may follow any number of career paths. For some, vast experiences in other professions including business, counseling, nonprofit management, natural resource management healthcare, etc. gave them both skills and interest in helping people resolve their conflicts in productive ways. Other mediators have come to the profession directly out of academic and professional programs. Increasingly, institutions of higher learning are offering coursework and entire programs in conflict and dispute resolution and many students, young and old, are keen to prepare themselves this way.
In Oregon, as in most states, a person can offer private mediation services without taking a class, passing a test or having a special license or certification. The report of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR) Commission of Qualifications (April 1995) states that “no particular degree is necessarily a prerequisite for competence as a neutral and the use of a degree as a main criteria for credentialing dispute resolution professionals deprives the parties of access to practitioners with different ranges of skills and works against increasing diversity within the field.” Oregon law states that “formal education in any particular field shall not be a prerequisite to serving as a mediator.” (ORS 36.185).
Many private mediators have extensive training and experience. OMA is currently working on a certification program for mediators who meet basic guidelines of training and practice. Many specific areas of practice also have extensive and well monitored regulations. These include regulations for volunteer mediators in court-connected mediation (like small claims court), court connected family mediation programs, and all of Oregon’s Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs). Visit our Mediator Guidelines page for more information about these regulations.