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The Qualifications of an Activity Director

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Activity directors may work in nursing homes providing meaningful activities to the residents there. Nursing homes receiving Medicare and Medicaid government reimbursement must have an activities program led by a qualified activity director, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is their requirement that this person be a registered occupational therapist or certified as an occupational therapy assistant, therapeutic recreation specialist or activity director by the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals. If a person is leading an activity program, but is not any of these, a provisional activity director certification may be obtained.


An activity director should have at least two years of experience working in a recreation or social setting in the part five years. One year of experience must be full time in an activity program that is in the health care field. An occupational therapist, assistant and certified recreational therapist have field placement assignments when they are in school, which may replace required experience in some cases.

A qualified activity director should have supervisory experience and be able to plan and implement activities for all residents living in a facility. Competence in writing a plan of care for each resident that shows how this resident will accomplish participation in activities must be demonstrated. The activity director also should be able to evaluate the activity program to ensure that it is meeting the needs of all of the residents. A monthly activity calendar that shows when the activities are performed must be written. Marketing experience is desired, as well.


A qualified activity director must have a high school diploma at minimum. It is preferred that a qualified activity director have at least twelve college units in English and other courses that are suggested by the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals. More education may be necessary, depending on the potential activity director’s qualifications.


A qualified activity director can be a registered occupational therapist who has a state license to practice. The same applies to a certified occupational therapy assistant and a certified recreational therapist. An activity director also may be certified by the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals. There are several ways to do this depending on the level of education and experience. If a person has been working as an activity assistant for at least two years during the last five, that experience may qualify for a provisional activity director certification. The individual must be working toward full certification in the manner that the National Council of Certified Activity Professionals states. It must take six or less years to complete, and the provisional certification must be renewed every two years.


Susan Berg has a BS degree in Medical Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and an AS degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy AssistantCOTA/L) - North Shre Community College-Massachusetts. She is as a Certified Dementia Practitioner(CDP), .Berg has written for 10 years. She authored the book, "Adorable Photographs of Our Baby", and currently writes for "Activity Director Today" and "Current Activities in Geriatric Care".

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