What Are Some Interesting Careers in Conflict Resolution?

Conflict resolution involves examining both sides of arguments and developing logical solutions. Lawyers, diplomats, international peacemakers, mediators, conciliators and arbitrators all use conflict resolution techniques in their jobs. Read on for job descriptions for a few conflict resolution careers, as well as information on conflict resolution training options. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Conflict Resolution Defined

Conflict resolution, also known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), involves solving and settling conflicts that arise in a variety of legal, workplace and community settings. Because conflicts can be costly, third-party representatives are often used to settle disputes and satisfy each party through negotiated compromise rather than court proceedings. The Association of Conflict Resolution stated that some of the main components of ADR proceedings were mediation, arbitration, conciliation and consensus building (www.acrnet.org).

Important Facts About Possible Occupations

  • Median Salary (2014): $57,180
  • Entry-level Education: Bachelor's degree
  • Key skills: Critical-thinking, listening, decision-making, reading, writing, interpersonal skills
  • Work Environment: Offices and meeting rooms

Career Areas

ADR processes can be applied to many careers and occupations. For example, you could work for the United Nations as a conflict specialist and help settle cultural conflicts. You also could work for a corporation as a neutral individual to settle internal organizational disputes.

Other career areas that use conflict resolution include international business, healthcare administration, labor relations and school system management. You might need to earn a master's or law degree to advance in this field. The following professions provide a few primary examples of conflict resolution careers.


Mediators use their background in business, counseling and law to settle conflicting parties' disagreements outside of court. Two mediators usually serve as discussion guides and help both parties come to a suitable agreement; however, mediators can only make suggestions, not final decisions. As a mediator, you can specialize in areas like labor relations, divorces and family disputes.


Arbitration operates closer to the legal system; as an arbitrator, you could make legally binding decisions if parties cannot reach agreement. Arbitrators can be appointed by courts and are usually specialized attorneys or field experts. If you take on this job, you might arbitrate between a labor union and an employer to work out an equitable and feasible compensation package.


Conciliators are similar to mediators, since both are impartial third parties who work to achieve a settled agreement. However, conciliators conduct meetings with the conflicting parties separately and communicate between them, rather than having both parties converse in one setting. Through private conversations, you might determine the interests of both parties and offer conflict resolution suggestions.


As an ombudsman, you are a neutral individual employed by a company or group to investigate disputes and determine the proper changes needed to resolve employee complaints. You'll offer confidential conflict resolution services and may instruct people on how to best utilize ADR techniques.

Education and Training Options

There is no standard degree required to enter a career in conflict resolution, though individuals in this field often have a background in business or law. Training requirements for mediators, arbitrators, conciliators and ombudsman may vary by state and may include completing a degree or certificate program, getting on-the-job training through a volunteer program or attending training classes sponsored by a mediation organization.

Master's degree and graduate certificate programs focused on conflict resolution, negotiation and peace building are available for professionals who want to apply these skills to their current job or for those who want to move into a conflict resolution-oriented career, like mediation or arbitration. Classes could cover particular conflict resolution areas like marriage mediation, intercultural conflicts, school violence, sports and the media.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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