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Activities Director Job Description

Activities Director Job Description

Activities directors play a crucial role in long-term care. Daily, weekly, and monthly activities are planned and implemented by activities directors in order to provide fulfilling, engaging recreational outlets for the people in their care.

This recreation specialist job is highly rewarding and offers a number of varied career options. If you think it may be the career for you then here’s everything you need to know.

Activities director responsibilities

Activities directors are sometimes also known by other job titles such as recreational therapist, geriatric activity director, nursing home activity director, or activity coordinator.

Different job titles may have different job responsibilities when it comes to specifics, but broadly speaking they all revolve around organizing therapeutic activities and special events for people living in a nursing home, senior care centers, or assisted living facilities.

These activities are intended to promote mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing among residents. It’s the activities director’s job to develop and implement an activities program for residents that reflects this aim, while also catering to the specific needs or interests of residents.

For example, an activities director working in a senior center may organize a dance to encourage physical activity and help residents stay fit. An activities director developing recreation programming for nursing home residents may instead focus on activities like quizzes and games which are more accessible to less-mobile residents and can promote mental wellbeing that aim to foster a sense of community and encourage social interaction.

The position requires an activities director to oversee every aspect of activity programming — planning, scheduling, and organizing a varied activities calendar; encouraging resident participation and monitoring signups; and leading or supervising activities.

Activities directors also need to be able to respond to any problems that arise, such as disputes or medical emergencies.

Activities director skills

An activities director needs to have a broad range of skills in order to succeed. They should have good people skills including patience and understanding in order to explain activities to residents and to direct and supervise activities effectively.

They also need to have a knack for creativity in order to continuously come up with fresh ideas to develop recreational activities for residents that are varied and engaging. Plus, have strong organizational skills to ensure activities are planned and executed without any issues.

Communication skills are also important, as the activities director needs to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues, external activities organizers, and participants.
Finally, it’s helpful for an activities director to themselves be fit and healthy so that they can participate in and lead activities effectively, especially if the position emphasizes physical activities.

Activities director education requirements

The required education level and qualifications for an activities director vary depending on the state the role is in and the specific requirements of the position; however, in many cases, a high school diploma and some relevant experience will be enough.

Some positions may require a higher level of education, however, seeking applicants with either an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in a related subject. Relevant degree programs include:

  • Parks and recreation.
  • Therapeutic recreation.
  • Recreation studies.
  • Business administration.
  • Social care.
  • Social studies.
  • Anatomy.
  • Psychology.

Furthermore, some states may require activities directors to hold a license. Licenses may be gained through local medical boards, the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC), the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) or other industry bodies.

The training programs required to become a certified activities director may be provided through in-person or online courses from the relevant industry body or by a certified external training provider.

Even in states where licenses aren’t required, these additional educational programs can be highly useful. Not only does it give a better understanding of the role of an activities officer, it may also make it easier to find a job and increase your potential salary range.

Activities director salary

Activities directors fall under the broader category of recreational workers, a sector employing over 417,000 people with a median salary of $28,440 per year. Recreation worker numbers are growing rapidly, with an expected 10% increase in jobs by 2029.

The specialist knowledge required for the therapeutic aspect of an activities director or recreational therapist’s role increases their earning potential compared to other recreational workers, with a median salary of $47,710 per year.

As with other recreational worker roles, there’s strong growth within the sector, with an expected 8% increase in recreational therapist or activities director jobs by 2029.

Activities director career roadmap

A good first step to becoming an activities director is to first gain experience in a more junior role, for example as an activity or recreation assistant. Activity assistants are likely to focus on implementing activity programs planned, organized and developed by a senior activities director, rather than planning activities themselves. While more limited in scope, these roles provide a solid start for aspiring activities director resumes.

After building up experience and completing a certification program (if required by the state or role specification, or simply to improve key skills), activities assistants can earn a position as an activities director, activities coordinator, or recreational therapist role. This involves taking on planning activities, assessing residents’ needs to develop more effective programs.

From here, it’s possible to progress into ever more senior roles within recreation therapy with increasing levels of responsibility, or to branch out into other careers with similar skill sets. For example, as well as working in nursing homes and senior living centers, activities directors may decide to work in other areas of health care, such as directing activities within a hospital or rehabilitation centre.

Activities director skills and specialist knowledge are also useful in a number of other roles outside health care, offering considerable career flexibility. The event planning aspect of the role means activities directors could easily switch to a role centred around recreation and leisure activities in other environments.

Rather than working in a care facility, an activities director may apply their skills to work with a school, summer camp, independent living community, or corporate events organiser, to give a few examples.

An activities director also has expert knowledge in promoting physical and mental wellbeing while providing care for vulnerable people. As a result, activities directors can use their training to become social workers or counsellors.

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Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.

You don’t need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. With every course we offer created to be as accessible as possible, you can be sure that all of them, from our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, will help to boost your prospects, no matter who you are.

Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued with a certificate online after successful completion of each of the learning courses they do. Our activity director skills courses are no exception. Our Activity Director Online Certificate Courses are recognized by industry leaders. You could really make a name for yourself in the business world by signing up for a Courses for Success short course.

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