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Activity Director Online Certification Programs

Learn about online certification preparation programs for activity directors. Find details about program options, course topics, certification requirements and online formats.

How Do I Prepare for an Online Activity Director Certification Program?

You can earn the Activity Director Certified (ADC) credential from the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), though this certification can't be earned online. Certification requires an educational component, work experience, continuing education and the completion of the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) course (described in the next paragraph). Applicants must also pass an in-person exam.

The certification process is flexible, as it includes four options with varying work experience requirements commensurate with the candidate's level of collegiate education. The NCCAP doesn't specify a particular field of study for the ADC certification, but it does require you to have completed courses in English, art, activity programming, health sciences and management.

Certification RequirementsEducation component, work experience, continuing education, completion of MEPAP
Educational BackgroundBusiness, education, social work, CPR certification; possibly therapeutic recreation or occupational therapy
MEPAP FormatPartially online with in-person experiential component
Median Salary (2018)* $39,477 (for certified activities directors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 9% (for recreational workers)

Source: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Background Would Be Helpful in This Field?

Many pursue the ADC credential with educational backgrounds in such areas as business, education and social work, reports the NCCAP. Any experience working with the aging population will also be helpful. You'll need to earn CPR certification if you're going to work in this field. Additionally, some states will require that you have training in therapeutic recreation or occupational therapy. This training can be a degree program or on-the-job experience in an aging, handicapped, mental health or other special population setting.

How Do the Online Programs Work?

You can complete both MEPAP modules partially online through some schools - the second MEPAP module includes an internship component. Completion of the program may lead to a certificate. Internship training might include observing activities directly, leading resident groups, visiting residents or performing duties usually assigned to the facility's volunteers.

The MEPAP is 360 combined hours of educational and experiential learning required for certification. The first part, known as MEPAP 1, is a basic course designed for people already employed in an activity program who are seeking activity director certification. The second part, or MEPAP 2, teaches advanced management skills, such as staffing, directing, planning, organization and advocacy.