Although many activities directors start their careers fresh out of college, most go on to get credentialing.
“Certification differs from state to state,” says Sherri Ellis, activity/volunteer director at Good Samaritan Society – Boise Village in Idaho. In her state, activities directors have to undergo certification training, which entails learning the basics (Activities 101), managing projects (for example, budgets), discussing ethics, meeting government regulations, and talking about ideas that did or did not work.

“There is no national degree for activities. Some states do have programs for activities in colleges,” says National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP) President Alisa Tagg.

NAAP provides education, support, and advocacy for activities professionals throughout North America. For those who are brand new to the field, there is certification by the NCCAP (National Certification Council for Activity Professionals). For completion, one needs to take a 360-hour (180 hours in class, 180 hours practical experience) course called the MEPAP (Modular Education Program for Activities Professionals) and pass a national exam. According to its website, certification gives one:
  • Enhanced professional recognition and development;
  • Collaboration at the national level with other long term health care associations;
  • Recognition as an Activity Professional who has met a higher standard of excellence and knowledge of the profession through education;
  • Regular communication with membership through technology; and
  • Inclusion in the national registry of Certified Activity Professionals.
“More administrators are seeing the importance of credentialing,” says Dawn Worsley, NCCAP treasurer. “Activities directors do so much more than Bingo. For instance, they integrate research for recognizing continual cognitive changes.”

The NAAP Credentialing Center is geared toward meeting the needs of seasoned activity professionals. These individuals can replace their experience for class work but still need to pass a national exam.

“Continuing education is important for every job,” says Tagg. “Unfortunately, most activities professionals take vacation time off just to come to get their educational needs.”

For more information about credentialing, and to view activities examples on these respective organizations’ Pinterest accounts, go to NAAP and NCCAP’s websites.