Activities directors are in charge of planning and facilitating activities for those living in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Activities directors can normally be certified either by a nationally recognized organization or on a local level by their own assisted living facility or organization. Requirements for local certification vary depending on the particular organization. These programs cannot be completed fully online as they often require practicum and on-site experience. Similar online programs may include certificate programs in parks and recreational management or leisure services.
Nationally, organizations such as the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) certify activities directors on a number of levels. The NCCAP offers five levels of certification, including Activity Assistant Certified (AAC), Activity Consultant Certified (ACC), Activity Director Provisionally Certified (ADPC), Activity Director Certified (ADC) and Home Care Certification (HCC). These certifications require varying amounts of education and experience, and have continuing education requirements. Typically a college degree or college coursework in a related field is required.
Certification candidates can meet the education eligibility requirements through distance education. Those applying for a NCCAP credential must have a high school diploma or GED as well as a college degree or a certain number of college credits from an accredited institution. Degrees do not have to be in a particular field, as long as the program includes required coursework in English, recreational programming, management and the sciences as outlined by the organization.
NCCAP also requires aspiring activities directors to complete parts I and II of the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) course, which is available online from the Activity Directors Network (ADN). Each part of the MEPAP lasts 16 weeks and those seeking certification must complete a 90-hour practicum along with the distance learning coursework. Some of the topics covered in this program include the following:
- Activity planning
- Activity assessments
- Palliative care
- Memory activities
- Communication methods
- Quality assurance
- Activities marketing and management
- Adult learning methods
- Staff management
Because NCCAP certification does not require proctored organization-specific testing, the certification itself for activities directors is available via a simple mail correspondence. However, there are certain requirements that can't be completed online or at home. This includes on-site experience working in the field at an approved facility. Those seeking to maintain their certification must complete continuing education, which could include some online or home study courses that must first be approved by NCCAP.
Aspiring activities directors will likely need to take a hybrid certificate program that involves online coursework and in-person field work for experience. Depending on the level of certification, students will study topics like adult learning methods, memory activities and staff management.