How to Become an

Arbitrator

The complete career guide to be an Arbitrator: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $69,060
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 9.5%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Deal Making
    Career Attribute

Arbitrators act as judges in private disputes when disputants want to avoid going to trial. Arbitrators listen to the claims of opposing parties, evaluate statements and evidence, and form impartial judgments on the cases presented. They common oversee cases related to business or union disputes.


What is an Arbitrator?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in arbitrator roles:

  • Listen to testimony and evaluate evidence in private disputes to form decisions
  • Issue judgements on cases to resolve disputes
  • Appoint additional arbitrators to weigh in on cases to ensure impartial judgments and avoid ties
  • Work with disputants to try and resolve disputes with mutually beneficial agreements

A Day in the Life

Arbitrators act as judges for private disputes when disputants want to resolve issues without going to trial. This approach to dispute resolution may be preferred when disputants want to avoid the publicity of a court trial, when the dispute is between only two parties or entities, or when it is believed that a mutually beneficial agreement may be achievable. Arbitrators listen to testimonials, review evidence, and try to get parties to work together to find mutually beneficial agreements.

Often, arbitrators oversee cases related to business or labor disputes. One example could be when a business sues another business for utilizing a copyrighted idea. Another example could be when a labor union accuses a business of violating the terms of the union agreement. The arbitrator may recommend payment from one company to another to resolve the dispute, or may recommend reinstatement of an employee that was terminated in violation of the union agreement.

When agreement cannot be achieved by both parties, the arbitrator may need to form his/her own judgment. Commonly, arbitrators work in groups of odd numbers so that ties are not possible, such as groups of 1, 3, or 5 arbitrators. Arbitrators all vote on the resolution they feel is appropriate after hearing all evidence and testimonies, and the decision is bound by law as much as the outcome of a court trial. To further dispute an arbitrator’s decision, an appeal must be filed.

Typical Work Schedule

Most arbitrators work full-time during normal business hours. However, some may work part-time as arbitrators and part-time as judges or lawyers, making a full-time schedule with multiple roles.

Projected Job Growth

Demand for arbitrators is expected to grow in coming years due to the lower expense of arbitration related to court cases. As the desire to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom grows, so will demand for effective arbitrators.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Lawyer
  • Mid-Career: Judge
  • Late Career: Arbitrator

Typical Employers

Most arbitrators are employed by either companies that provide legal services or by state/local governments.


How To Become an Arbitrator

In most cases, arbitrators are retired lawyers or judges with significant experience in a branch of law and a specific industry. Therefore, the process of becoming an arbitrator is similar to the process of becoming a lawyer or judge. First, you must earn a bachelor’s degree. Popular majors include political science, criminal justice, English, history, or philosophy. Political science majors tend to be the most common because they focus on providing a thorough education in the legal and political systems of government.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to apply for and be accepted into law school. Law schools are graduate programs that typically take three years to complete and result in a juris doctor (J.D.) degree. After graduating from law school, you’ll need to take the bar exam, offered through the American Bar Association. Passing the bar exam and holding a J.D. degree are common requirements for becoming licensed to practice as a lawyer in your state. The requirements are the same for becoming a judge, which are usually lawyers who’ve been elected to hold judge positions.

As a lawyer or judge, you’ll want to specialize in cases related to a field you want to arbitrate in the future. For example, if you want to arbitrate business cases, your lawyer/judge career should focus on business law. If you want to arbitrate divorce disputes, your career as a lawyer/judge should focus on family law. With many years of experience practicing law as a lawyer or judge, you should qualify for open arbitrator roles even before you reach retirement age, or you may be able to supplement your income by arbitrating part-time.


Arbitrator Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$41,670

Average

$69,060

High Range

$118,090

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$20/hr

Average

$33/hr

High Range

$57/hr

How do Arbitrator salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Arbitrator's can make an average annual salary of $69,060, or $33 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $41,670 or $20 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #207 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Highest Education Among Arbitrators

  • 91%   Doctorate
  • 4.1%   Masters
  • 3.5%   Bachelors
  • 0.5%   Associates
  • 0.4%   College
  • 0.4%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

8,400

2024 Est. Jobs

9,200

Job Growth Rate

9.5%

Est. New Jobs

800

How does Arbitrator job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 800 jobs for a total of 9,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 9.5% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #215 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Arbitrators

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Legal services 1,600 100 0%
Self-employed workers 1,400 --- ---
State government, excluding education and hospitals 1,300 100 0%

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