The nitty-gritty: Arbitration and "alternative dispute resolution (ADR)" have steadily gained converts from those hoping to bypass lawsuits with onerous fees and often a drawn out legal process. From divorce proceedings to housing and medical disputes, many people prefer to settle matters privately out of court. Some tense and sometimes frustrating debates can make your head throb, but you're the pro equipped with the calm voice of reason. These jobs are not only for retired lawyers, mind you. An expertise in certain field of business can be your ticket. Experience settling workplace discrimination issues, marriage counseling and even a mental health background can land you a seat at the table to guide a sensitive negotiation. In general, you work out of your home office, but may have to go to another location for the official meeting. You've got to be "all ears." Your task: impartially hear both sides of a dispute, cut through the sometimes-emotional verbiage, and intuitively home in on the critical details. It's up to you to patiently direct and encourage both sides to keep talking in a civil fashion until a satisfactory resolution, or settlement, is struck. No taking sides.
The hours: Varies depending on caseload. Expect to put in the hours during negotiations.
Pay range: $14.69 to -$55.63 and upplus.
Qualifications: Many mediators have law degrees, but non-legal backgrounds are acceptable. Specific training, license requirements and certification vary by state. Mediators typically complete 60 hours of courses through independent programs or organizations, but some are trained on the job through volunteering at a community mediation center, or teaming up with a practicing mediator. Some colleges offer certificates or advanced degrees in dispute resolution. To tap into cases, network with local bar associations, insurers, realtors, and human resource departments at area businesses and hospitals. Increasingly, credentialing programs are being offered through professional organizations such as the American Arbitration Association. The American Bar Association Section for Dispute Resolution provides a trove of information relating to the dispute resolution field. Mediate.com is another source for international, national and state conflict resolution organizations and more. You must have a gift for peacemaking.