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Activities Aide Certification and Training Program Information

An activities aide plans, manages and implements activities for residents of senior living centers or visitors to adult daycare and community centers. While it is not mandatory, many organizations prefer to hire aides who hold certification from the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP). Read on to learn what is required in an NCCAP certification training program, include the education prerequisites and coursework.

Essential Information

An activities aide can become certified through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP). The NCCAP offers the standard Activity Assistant Certified (AAC) certification (www.nccap.org). Certification programs cover topics such as cultural issues when working with the elderly, physical fitness and ethics. The length of the program depends on the student's education level. Most employers prefer the applicant have a bachelor's degree for higher-level recreational activities; however, an associate's degree is often sufficient for many positions in this field.

Education Prerequisites

The NCCAP has three tracks that allow the individual to acquire an AAC. The first track requires 30 college credits, and track two requires a high school diploma or a GED and six college credits. Track three requires a high school diploma or a GED plus an education program designed specifically for activity professionals, including a required 90 hours of study.

Program Coursework

Certification is often the gateway to an associate's or bachelor's degree in gerontology or recreational therapy. Certification coursework typically includes:

  • Sociology
  • Cultural issues in gerontology
  • Sociology of the aging
  • Substance abuse
  • Ethical issues and aging
  • Physical fitness

Employment Outlook and Career Info

Certification increases an applicant's chance of becoming hired as an activities aide at many elder care facilities, reported the NCCAP. Activities aides were categorized as a type of recreation worker. These professionals could expect average growth of 19% from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual wage of recreation workers was $22,240 in May 2012.

Continuing Education and Training

The NCCAP has continuing education standards for all certified activities aides. Qualifying continuing education includes content from the Modular Education program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) or coursework from the NCCAP's Body of Knowledge topics. Body of Knowledge courses reinforce the fundamentals of working with clients, management and ethical issues, as well as recreational program management. Further, many activities are applicable toward continuing education credits, such as facility tours, home-study courses, adult education workshops and seminars, college or university studies and published educational articles. These continuing education courses are similar to those found in training programs.

The three tracks involved in the NCCAP's activity assistant certification program involve differing degrees of activity and training experience. Track one involves 2,000 hours of activity experience within a five-year period; track two involves 4,000 hours within five years and track three involves 2,000 hours within five years.

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