Some arbitrators are subject to continuing education requirements. Members of the AAA roster, for example, must complete two and a half hours of approved training every year. Additionally, those who continue their law careers while serving as arbitrators might need to fulfill continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses. Other professionals, such as real estate agents and architects, will also need to renew their credentials at regular intervals. The processes and standards for joining vary. Arbitrators applying to some state court rosters could need to submit proof of up to ten years of membership with the state bar, while other states admit applicants provided they can demonstrate adequate work experience via references and written samples of arbitration awards.
Professional organizations generally demand 5-10 years of experience in legal, professional or business settings. Organizations like the American Arbitration Association (AAA) also require some experience in arbitration or other forms of dispute resolution and three letters of recommendation. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), which handles labor management disputes, requires applicants to submit five references and five prior arbitration decisions, or two decisions for applicants who’ve completed the FMCS’s 40-hour training course. Aspiring arbitrators who choose to prepare for this career by practicing law need to become licensed attorneys once they complete law school. State requirements vary, but licensure is usually achieved after earning a law degree, applying for admission to the state bar association and passing the bar exam. Others who hope to specialize in such industries as construction or real estate will also need state-issued licenses in order to begin acquiring work experience as real estate agents, contractors or architects, for example. This usually entails meeting a state’s combination of education, experience and exam requirements. Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward a career in arbitration. Prospective students might choose a major that can prepare them to acquire the legal or industry experience necessary for a career in this field. Relevant degrees could include business programs or those that prepare students for law school, such as political science, English or history majors.
- Seek out extracurricular activities. Students can develop their communication skills and hone their ability to frame issues from multiple viewpoints by joining debate clubs. Serving as a leader of a student organization could also provide students with opportunities to develop their decision-making abilities.
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