While the state of California has no training requirements for mediators, the mediation community--and many professional organizations--have informal education requirements. Aspiring mediators can learn much about the profession through a 40-hour training program. While many mediators come from the legal, social work or counseling fields, there is no particular professional background necessary to enter the mediator profession. Good listening skills, patience, creative problem-solving and a strong will are traits characteristic of a successful mediator.
Research training opportunities using the California state directory at the National Institute for Advanced Conflict Resolution (see Resources). Sign up for a training class near you to learn basic mediation skills.
Attend the training class to learn mediation skills and tactics, mediation ethics, business skills and professional development. The Northern California Mediation Center recommends a 40-hour intensive training course for beginning mediators, though you may take additional classes if you wish. After the course you'll typically receive a certificate of completion from the trainer.
Approach your trainer and ask for advice about volunteer mediation opportunities near you. Many nonprofits rely on volunteer mediators; this provides you a good way to practice your skills and build the experience and confidence necessary to become a paid mediator.
Pursue any volunteer mediation experiences the trainer recommends to build your experience.
Find California mediators near you using the directory at Mediate.com (see Resources). Contact local mediators and ask if you can observe a mediation. As long as it's okay with both parties, a mediator should let you observe.This provides a valuable lesson in conducting a paid mediation. Observe several mediators in action to get a sense of different styles and approaches.
Advertise your services as a mediator when you feel you have adequate volunteer and observation experience to handle a mediation on your own. Network with lawyers or social workers, join professional organizations and approach potential clients via letter or email.