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How do I Become an Adjudicator?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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The term "adjudicator" is used to describe someone who is responsible for issuing a judgment to resolve a dispute, or who leads a conflict resolution process. The process to become an adjudicator varies, depending on the industry and position description, but typically includes education, training and work experience. The areas of responsibility can range from decisions regarding applications for benefits to conflict resolution in a competition.

In Europe and Asia, an adjudicator is part of the legal system. His or her role is to review civil case documents and make a ruling to resolve the dispute, where possible, to keep the case from going to trial. In North America, an adjudicator is not involved in the legal system but works primarily in private industry.

The first step to become an adjudicator is to research the academic credentials required. Although the details can be quite different, depending on the industry, the expectation is that the adjudicator is a subject matter expert in the area in which he or she will be making decisions. For example, the adjudicator at a chess tournament must be knowledgeable about the rules of competition chess, as well as the processes surrounding dispute resolution.

Formal certification to validate this level of knowledge and training usually is required by potential employers. Look for information provided by a professional association or agency about the qualifications necessary to become an adjudicator within a specific industry. Talk with industry professionals about dispute resolution procedures to find out more about the role the adjudicator plays. In many situations, an undergraduate degree or diploma is necessary, in addition to formal dispute resolution training.

Gaining work-related experience is very important if you want to become an adjudicator. This experience can be gained through positions that require conflict resolution, making decisions or judgments based on policy or formal procedures and communicating the decision to interested parties. A position in a complaints or dispute-resolution office can be very helpful. In these departments, staff members must investigate the complaint, review the action taken and make a decision within his or her authority to resolve the matter. All decisions must be defensible and must comply with company policy and practices.

Job opportunities to become an adjudicator can be found in government agencies, financial and insurance companies and professional associations. Look for organizations that provide a service within a regulated industry for the greatest variety of positions. Self-regulating professions are another great source of jobs for anyone who wants to become an adjudicator.

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Discussion Comments

By anon279935 — On Jul 15, 2012

I'm studying Civil Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. However, I would like to be an adjudicator in contract disputes. What exactly do I have to do? Could you recommend me some universities or organizations around the world for post-graduate studies in adjudication? Is there another way to become an adjudicator? --Christina

By Emilski — On Sep 16, 2011

@jmc88 - I always think of arbitrators working from more of a legal perspective, such as negotiating contract disputes between companies and employees or else between companies and advertisers. Things like that.

A mediator to me seems about the same as how an adjudicator is described here. I think of them more as working inside of a business and resolving some type of conflict and trying to come to a mutual decision. This article might kind of imply, though, that an adjudicator has a firm understanding of the rules, and is kind of a "final word" in decisions. Kind of a judge for companies rather than a problem solver.

By jmc88 — On Sep 15, 2011

@kentuckycat - From the way I understand it, it sounds like the adjudicator would do everything. It might entail determining whether a decision regarding a certain process was fair or dealing with public complaints.

What I'm confused by is whether an adjudicator is any different than an arbitrator or mediator. I hear both of those terms used a lot to describe these types of jobs, but I've never heard of an adjudicator before. Is there any difference, and what is it?

By kentuckycat — On Sep 14, 2011

I'm still not sure I understand what exactly you would do after you got hired for an adjudicator position.

Let's imagine I was hired as an adjudicator for an oil company, since the article mentions they are common in highly regulated industries. Would I work for the oil company handling complaints within the organization itself, or would most of my work be dealing with problems between the oil company and the government or other groups?

If you were going to do this, what kind of degree would you need? I would guess maybe something like a business administration degree. Are there special programs or concentrations for arbitration or things like this?

By JimmyT — On Sep 13, 2011

I had no idea they used a system of adjudicators in other countries' legal systems. I always thought something like this would be useful in the American court system. It seems like we have turned into a court happy society where everyone automatically takes people to court rather than resolving problems on their own.

Obviously, it wouldn't be much use in criminal cases, but in terms of small claims court or even something like late child support payments where there was no potential for jail time, I could see adjudicators saving a lot of time and money for the government.

It sounds like it would be a really interesting career no matter where you were practicing it.

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