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Nursing Home Activity Director: Certification, Job Description & Salary

Learn about the career requirements for a nursing home activity director. Gain insight into what the director does, who the director serves, and what the average day of a director looks like to see if this branch of recreation work is right for you.

What Is a Nursing Home Activity Director?

Nursing home activity directors fall under the umbrella of recreation workers. Their job is to design and implement activities for elderly individuals in order to improve their quality of life. Requirements to become a nursing home activity director vary, with some roles requiring a bachelor's degree and others requiring only a high school diploma and relevant experience.

Below are some additional insights into the requirements and expected salary and job growth for a nursing home activity director.

Education Required High school diploma at a minimum, bachelor's degree recommended
Key Skills Patience, creativity, organizational skills, strong communication skills
Certification Certification from such organizations as the NCCAP is required or preferred
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%* (for all recreation workers)
Median Salary (2018) $25,060* (for all recreation workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Nursing Home Activity Directors Do?

This type of director is in charge of overseeing the day-to-day activities of nursing home residents. In this role, you will design and schedule a calendar of activities (for example: bingo, religious services, book club, arts and crafts) with the goal of keeping elderly residents engaged in their community. Ideally, activities foster socialization as well as hone residents' mental and physical capabilities. Besides managing the activities themselves, directors are often responsible for overseeing staff members who assist with the activities' creation and implementation.

What Education Do I Need to Become a Nursing Home Activity Director?

Some nursing homes require only that you have a high school diploma. Others may also ask to see relevant experience. Still others require more specialized learning in the form of a bachelor's degree or additional certification program.

What Types of Certification Are Available?

The NCCAP (National Certification Council for Activity Professionals) offers a three-level certification program that can help activity directors provide enriching programs for those they serve. The first level, APC (Activity Professional Certified), and the second level, ADC (Activity Director Certified), are for individuals who meet a combination of education and experience requirements and complete NCCAP training designed to help them provide client-centered, life-enriching care.

Federal law states that only a qualified professional may direct an activity program in a long-term care center. NCCAP certification meets this requirement, and some organizations only hire someone who is certified. In other instances where this particular certification is not required, those who hold NCAAP credentials might receive higher salaries.

How Much Can I Make as a Nursing Home Activity Director?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an activity director in 2018 was $25,060. Those working in the nursing care field have a slightly higher median annual wage of $27,320. Pay will vary based on your level of education, certifications acquired, and relevant experience. The highest 10% of workers earned more than $42,670 each year. The need for workers in this field is expected to expand by an estimated 8% between 2018 and 2028.

What Other Human Services Jobs Are Similar to a Nursing Home Activity Director?

Activity directors are needed across a variety of fields and in a variety of settings. You could remain in healthcare by planning activities for a hospital or rehabilitation center. If you're passionate about working with children, you can oversee programs for after-school care and summer camps or provide guidance as a social worker or school counselor. If taking care of the finer details like scheduling is your life's calling, you could also consider a career in meeting and event planning. There's no limit to the number of ways in which you can serve the community by putting your activity director skills to use.