These days, more people are deciding to settle their legal disputes outside the courtroom through licensed mediators, and via a process known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
To become a mediator in Ontario, you will need to apply to be a member of an accredited licensing body, take the requisite courses and gain real-life work experience. You do not necessarily need licensing education in the mediation field, since you likely already possess several skills and knowledge that will assist you in your practice. Although, you can proceed to get some form of certification after you have chosen an area of specialization.
To gain further experience and recognition, you can introduce your network to your skills, get some form of online presence (a social media page, or a website), and offer talks on conflict resolution in-person or online.
How To Become A Mediator In Ontario
To start a career in mediation, you will need relevant education, comprehensive courses, mediation training, and adequate work experience. The following steps are required to become a mediator:
1. Choose an area of specialization
The field of mediation, although still emerging, is quite vast. There are several ways and areas in which you can apply mediation skills. As a new mediator, you can choose to practice in one area in which you are licensed, and then transition to mediating other types of disputes over time. You can also choose to practice in multiple areas at once since many of the skills that you will use in solving disputes apply to various mediation cases.
2. Earn an undergraduate degree or its equivalent
The acquisition of knowledge and skills for every human begins with some form of education. You should consider your intended area of specialty when choosing an undergraduate degree.
A strong foundation in business will provide you with skills and practical applications of business theories you can apply in the workplace.
A degree in finance will equip you with a solid foundation in financial principles, risk management, and potential financial conflicts. You can use the knowledge gained to prepare for mediation roles in the banking industry or financial departments in other industries.
A law degree will teach you the rudiments of the laws governing every industry, and individual actions, and you will be able to apply the knowledge in resolving conflicts on a general scale. So choosing an undergraduate study that incorporates business and finance is a great start for a career in mediation.
3. Take specialized courses and certification
You can opt for courses on the Fundamentals of Mediation that will teach you the ethics and values of mediation, how to save time, reduce costs, eliminate litigation, preserve valuable relationships, stages of mediation, negotiation, family dynamics, and family law.
If you want to be a family mediator, you will have to take specific courses such as the 40 hours training on the fundamentals of family mediation, 21 hours course on advanced family mediation, 21 hours course on screening for family violence, abuse, and power imbalances, 21 hours course on family law and relations.
4. Improve the skills required to be a mediator
The soft skills you will require to deliver quality services are negotiation, critical thinking, decision-making, active listening, problem-solving, communication, and business skills.
You must excel at listening actively, which is critical to the negotiation process. Your thought processes should be powerful enough to guide agreements in a productive direction and amicably settle disputes.
Also, consider how comfortable people would be trusting you to facilitate a process that involves conflict management. You can do this by asking individuals you trust to offer honest feedback about how effective you might be for the mediation role you are applying for.
5. Gain experience and become a member of an accredited licencing body
You need at least 100 hours of practical experience under the supervision of an OAFM-accredited mediator. If you’re not sure of where to start from, you can look into volunteer opportunities like The Ontario Community Mediation Coalition (OCMC), or in your field of expertise.
You can become a member of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM) if you want to be a family mediator.
How Much Does It Cost To Be A Mediator In Ontario
The application fees to become a member of a licensed body of mediators ranges from $450 to $1000 plus HST.
Colleges and institutions that offer mediator training usually charge between $3,350 and $10,000. In total, you will need about $11,000.
How Much Does A Mediator Earn In Ontario
According to PayScale, salaries for mediators in Ontario range from about $42,000 to $107,000, while the median salary is around $65,000.
For offsite funding in Government-assisted mediation cases, the fee range is $5 per hour for those with an annual income under $14,999, to $105 per hour for those with an annual income of between $55,000-$59,999. Fees for those with an annual income above $59,999 are about $150 per hour.
Job Opportunities For Mediators In Ontario
Some of the areas you can practice as a mediator are:
- Human rights
- Security and relief work
- Real Estate
- Air and Aviation
- International Relations
- The Health Industry
- Personal injury
- Estate and retirement planning
- Driving and transportation
- Housing and living arrangements
- Community and home safety
- Abuse and neglect
- Caregiver responsibility
- Religious issues
- Holiday schedules
- Financial concerns
- End of life issues
- New marriages and blended families
Keep in mind, you can join a private practice, work for the government, or start your mediation firm. The career path you choose will determine the ease at which you get jobs and greatly influence your earning potential.
Are Mediators In High Demand In Ontario
The demand for mediators in Ontario has been on a steady rise and it did not drop as expected during the pandemic. Mediation for most types of civil actions has been mandatory in parts of Ontario (Ottawa, Toronto, and Windsor) since 1999. There is a current deficit of mediators in Ontario, so breaking into the labour market is going to be relatively easy.