Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) coordinator salary & career outlook
Although the courtroom might be one of the most famous symbols of the legal system, it is not the only way to resolve a dispute. Alternative dispute resolution coordinators, also known as ADR coordinators or mediators, offer an informal way for conflicting sides to reach an agreement. These professionals act as neutral parties who evaluate a situation and offer suggestions to help solve disagreements in a confidential and private setting.
Average mediator salaries
For purposes of government classification, alternative dispute resolution coordinators fall into the broader category of arbitrators, mediators and conciliators. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, in 2009, these individuals earned a mean annual salary of $63,250. However, incomes ranged from $30,870 for the bottom tenth percentile to $109,950 for the top tenth percentile.
Incomes can also vary dramatically based upon location. At the top of the list in terms of salary, the following states and metro areas had mean annual incomes nearing or above six figures in 2009:
- Virginia: $138,820
- Washington DC-Arlington-Alexandria: $123,120
- New Mexico: $109,880
- Los Angeles, Calif: $99,300
- Chicago, Ill: $96,510
For those looking to work in a state with a relatively low cost of living, the Lansing, Michigan metro area where annual mean salaries were $87,200 in 2009, may be an option worth considering. Additionally, New Mexico and Illinois might be worth a look because they rank well in the ACCRA cost of living index.
In addition to the BLS, salary data is also available from Salary.com. Although the website does not specifically collect alternative dispute resolution coordinator salary data, it does offer insight into the pay for conflicts managers who oversee mediation departments. This supervisory function of alternative dispute resolution coordinators pays a median salary of $75,858.
Options for alternative dispute resolution coordinator training online
To work as a mediator, you may have to attend a state or court approved mediation training program. The BLS indicates that alternative dispute resolution coordinator schools may offer 40-hour basic courses and 20-hour advanced training courses. In addition, graduate degrees are available for those seeking to become conflict managers or attorneys specializing in dispute resolution.
Only five states offer certification programs for mediators, and the quality of alternative dispute resolution schools can vary. Before enrolling in an online program, check with your state to determine whether there are any state mandated educational requirements. In addition, any alternative dispute resolution coordinator training offered online should provide knowledge of dispute mediation techniques and have a focus on listening and communication skills.
Expected job growth for alternative dispute resolution coordinators
As many individuals and businesses seek to avoid costly litigation, the BLS expects that the demand for trained mediators will grow. In 2008, approximately 26 percent of alternative dispute resolution coordinators worked for state and local governments. Labor unions, law offices and insurance companies are some of the private businesses that also employee mediation specialists.
From 2008 to 2018, the BLS estimates job growth for arbitrators, mediators and conciliators to be 14 percent. However, the department also cautions that turnover for individual jobs can be slow. Once individuals are trained in this profession, the bureau reports that they tend to remain in their positions for many years. Those with the right alternative dispute resolution coordinator training and credentials will have the best opportunities for employment and advancement.