• One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo

Become an Arbitrator



The success of securities arbitration depends on the quality of the arbitrators who hear and decide the disputes presented by the parties. If you qualify, you will join a group of dedicated individuals serving the investing public and the securities industry.

Arbitration enables opposing parties to settle a dispute out of court. An arbitrator, working independently or as part of a small panel, holds hearings, reviews evidence and renders decisions. These proceedings are very similar to a trial, but more private and less formal. Travel to neutral sites might be required. This position is often part-time or as needed.

Career Requirements

Get a Bachelor's Degree

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; many arbitrators are highly experienced lawyers or business professionals who have extensive knowledge of a particular industry or body of law. Arbitration specialties include construction, real estate, insurance and labor relations. Relevant degrees could include business programs or those that prepare students for law school, such as political science, English or history majors.

Earn a Graduate Degree or Certificate

Since arbitrators are generally drawn from the ranks of experienced attorneys and business professionals, a Juris Doctor (JD) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) could prove to be the most relevant graduate degree option. Normally, a law degree takes three years to complete, while an MBA can be earned in two years. Both program types provide a broad professional education. Law schools, however, generally offer more opportunities to begin specializing in arbitration. They often have dispute resolution certificate or master's degree programs that can be completed while earning a JD.

Earning a stand-alone master's degree or graduate certificate in dispute resolution could also provide relevant training for an arbitration career. Coursework can cover theories of conflict resolution, cultural issues and practical strategies. Many include an internship or practicum to provide students with real-world experience handling disputes.

Get Licensed

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.

Gain Legal or Industry Experience

A key qualification for arbitrators is expertise in the industry or legal specialty in which they will handle disputes. Aspiring arbitrators should expect to spend several years practicing law or working in a business, government agency or other organization. The amount of experience required varies widely; applicants for arbitration rosters and panels could need anywhere from 5-15 years of related work experience.