Top Ways to Use Your Conflict Resolution Degree
Graduates with certain academic degrees can be fairly certain of the field they’re going to work in. Study business and you’re headed for the corporate world, or study education and look forward to a position related to teaching. But a degree in conflict resolution can lead almost anywhere, because conflict is part of every aspect of public and private life. So once you’ve earned this degree, where can it take you? Here are some of the best opportunities for people with formal training in conflict resolution.
Mediation (and the related fields of arbitration and conciliation) are increasingly popular as alternatives to resolving conflicts through the courts, as they are often less expensive, less time-consuming, and likelier to result in a conclusive resolution. Mediators are employed by private companies, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and more.
Mediators are neutral parties that help facilitate conflict resolution, though the responsibility for finding a solution ultimately rests with the parties themselves. Arbitrators may hear evidence and testimony, and then issue a binding decision. Conciliators fall somewhere in the middle, participating actively in resolving the conflict, but not issuing a binding decision.
As of 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that mediators, arbitrators, and conciliators earn an average annual salary of about $60,000, and the profession has an expected job growth of 10 percent through 2022.
When we think about what human resources professionals do, we often jump to recruitment and hiring. However, human resources departments are where employees turn when they’re having an issue or conflict at work and are unable to resolve it on their own or through their supervisor.
Graduates of a conflict resolution degree program can reap financial rewards by choosing to work in human resources in the private sector. In 2013, according to the BLS, human resources managers earned an average annual salary of $111,180, almost twice as much as those in the mediation field.
Conflict resolution skills are critical for anyone who wishes to work in a counseling capacity. You may choose to pursue a degree in conflict management as a supplement to an education in psychology, in preparation for going into private practice. If you’re interested in working with victims of trauma or in a human rights context, a background in conflict resolution is invaluable. Salaries and job titles vary based on the specifics of each job and employer, but you should expect lower pay in the nonprofit and public sectors, and higher when working for private companies.
Some students of conflict management may choose to pursue a career in social justice. This may involve community organizing, in which you support the efforts of local activists. You may want to get involved in programs devoted to the economic development of underserved communities, or to commit to a particular issue, like climate change or gender inequality, working to advance understanding and find proactive solutions. Some conflict management students may choose to get some formal legal education as well, in order to work on behalf of victims in the court system.
Because conflict happens everywhere, an education in conflict resolution can be useful in almost any aspect of the professional world.