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The primary motivation to become a hearing officer is often a personal commitment to fairness and a desire to participate in dispute resolution. In order to become a hearing officer, you will need a combination of post-secondary education, related experience and interpersonal skills. A hearing officer often works in a government agency or department and has a primary role of listening to both sides of a dispute, reviewing the facts of the case and providing a ruling. Although the hearing officer acts in the role of a judge, the decisions typically are focused on administrative matters related to local or state government agencies.
To become a hearing officer, you must have a specific combination of listening and communicate skills. You will be expected to maintain a high standard of personal and professional integrity. Mediation and dispute resolution training can be very helpful in this career.
The minimum educational required to become a hearing officer is a bachelor degree from a recognized university. In many locales, a law degree also is required. However, this depends upon the department and types of disputes he or she will be deciding. Some departments require specific courses in alternate dispute resolution, mediation or related training.
Related work experience can include dispute resolution, working in the legal system and conflict negotiations. In many situations, this experience is obtained through semi-judicial tribunals or similar boards. The primary purpose of this type of position is to gain experience listening to issues and making a decision. Although most of these positions are paid, there are opportunities to work as a volunteer hearing officer for organizations that provide support services to various communities.
Listening and communication skills are absolutely essential if you want to become a hearing officer. In many cases, the hearing officer is responsible for determining eligibility for benefits, reviewing administrative decisions made by others and providing an opportunity for dispute resolution. Emotions can be quite heated for the people involved in these disputes, because it often takes a lengthy period of time to reach a hearing officer.
After the hearing is complete and both sides have presented their cases, the hearing officer must make a decision. As a hearing officer, you will need to be very familiar with the law, rules and regulations and ensure that decisions are supported by these rules. A written report is issued, and copies are provided to both parties. The decision typically includes a summary of the issues presented, the rule or law used to support the decision and an explanation of the appeals process.
Be prepared for a stressful and challenging career.
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