Arbitrators solve disputes by using processes outside of court such as private meetings and confidential hearings. The arbitration may be compulsory, where the decision is nonbinding, and may be rejected by either party, who then request a court trial. It may also be voluntary, where both parties voluntarily submit to a final, binding decision. A bachelor’s degree is required for the profession, though master’s and doctoral degrees are available.
Arbitrators typically work in private offices or meeting rooms, though no public records are kept. They often travel to sites chosen by both sides of a negotiation, though they can also work from home. Most work a 40-hour week, though longer schedules may be necessary when contracts are being prepared. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), their median salary was $52,770 annually, with a range of $30,870 to $109,950 as of May 2009. This is equivalent to $25.37 hourly, with a range of $14.84 to $52.86.
The biggest employers of arbitrators were other professional, scientific and technical services, which include those who are self-employed. They comprised 1,370 of the 8,110 available jobs as of May 2009. They were also one of the top-five paying employers at a mean $33.23 an hour or $69,120 per year. The employer with the highest wages was the federal government at a mean $56.86 per hour or $118,280 per year for 190 jobs. They were followed by colleges, universities and professional schools, which paid a mean $38.19 per hour or $79,430 per year for 80 positions.
As of May 2009, the state with the highest salaries for arbitrators was Virginia, with means at $66.74 per hour or $138,820 per year for 240 jobs. Still among the top five for pay was California, with lower wages at $36.94 per hour or $76,820 per year, but better employment with 1,110 jobs. For cities, Washington, D.C., had the best pay at a mean $59.19 per hour or $123,120 per year for 340 jobs. It was followed by Los Angeles at a mean $47.74 per hour or $99,300 per year for 230 positions.
The BLS sees jobs for arbitrators growing at 14 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than average for all occupations. This is because more businesses and individuals are trying to avoid the expensive and lengthy court process. Many jurisdictions are also mandating arbitration to solve disputes. Opportunities for jobs are limited because the turnover is low. Those with certification and specializations will find the best prospects.