How do I Become a Nursing Home Activity Director?

Activity directors might have to keep an eye of residents when outside the nursing home to ensure they don't wander off.
Nursing home activity directors often have experience volunteering with the elderly.
Nursing home activity directors must be able to work with a wide variety of physical and mental abilities.
Activity directors may organize different art programs.
Nursing home activity directors may have a background in geriatric physical therapy.
A nursing home activity director must be able to offer games and other activities to patients.
Nursing home activity directors may need to schedule time to work with bed-bound residents.
Volunteering at an assisted-living facility may help an individual become a nursing home activity director.
Nursing home activity directors play an important role in keeping seniors active and happy.
Article Details
  • Written By: Joyce Priddy
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2015
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The primary job of a nursing home activity director is typically to coordinate all activities for the patients. Some of the activities include, but are not limited to, games, parties, holiday celebrations, religious activities, outings, and crafts. To become a nursing home activity director, you likely will need to earn an undergraduate degree, pass a criminal background check, gain experience in the field, and secure certification from a national body.

To get experience in the field, you might consider volunteering at an assisted-living or nursing home facility. Most facilities will require a criminal background check and references. During your volunteer time, you could also enroll in college to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

According to the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), people in the US who want to work in this job will need a bachelor’s degree with at least one English course and at least seven courses directly related to being a nursing home activity director. In addition, candidates need 4,000 hours of hands-on experience working or volunteering in this area during the previous five years. You'll also need a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education during the previous five years.


Health boards and other governmental agencies examine nursing homes for compliance with regional and national regulations. Grants, insurance coverage, and other funding have strict rules for nursing homes to be able to receive money. For these reasons, the majority of facilities in the US will not hire a nursing home activity director who has not been certified by the NCCAP.

There are several methods to receive NCCAP accreditation without a bachelor’s degree. Candidates who want to become a nursing home activity director can increase their hands-on experience to 6,000 hours. There is a combination of different educational levels and requirements for candidates. A minimum of 30 hours of continuing education during the previous five years is still required.

Candidates can fill out the NCCAP application after fulfilling the requirements set by the organization. A current resume, letters of reference, and verification from volunteer coordinators and directors usually should be sent with the application. Once given the NCCAP license, you will want to be sure to renew it every five years. Working as a nursing home director typically will count toward the hands-on experience hours, to go with your 30 hours of continuing education.

After getting an NCCAP license, a facility with an opening will often promote from within, making an assistant the director for example. Nursing homes often hire an activity director who is actively seeking and is near completion of the NCCAP license, so getting one can be crucial to getting hired in this career field.


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I enjoyed the article. It had a lot of information that is helpful to me.

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