An activities aide can become certified through any of the three tracks offered through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP). 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. For Track 1, 30 college credits is mandated, while Track 2 necessitates a high school diploma or GED and 6 college credits. Track 3 requires a high school diploma or GED and 90 hours of study. Certifications must be maintained with continuing education training hours.
Certification in Activities Aiding
Certification is often the gateway to an associate's or bachelor's degree in gerontology or recreational therapy. Certification coursework typically includes:
- Cultural issues in gerontology
- Sociology of the aging
- Substance abuse
- Ethical issues and aging
- Physical fitness
Employment Outlook and Career Information
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. Recreation workers could expect average growth of 10% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual wage of recreation workers was $23,320 in May 2015.
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.
Activities Aide Certification can signify specialized skills, as courses within these programs often cover relevant subjects such as socio-cultural matters, ethics, aging and health.