Online Classes and Schools for Aspiring Activity Directors

Activity directors run programs for senior citizens in care centers to improve their quality of life. Read about your options for training to become an activity director through online study, including associate's degree programs, standalone courses and a national modular education program. Review the certification process for activity directors. Schools offering Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Degree Online as an Activity Director?

As an activity director, you'll plan, coordinate and lead daily, weekly and monthly events and special activities. You'll also be responsible for the management of your on-site staff and the coordination of your volunteer staff.

Though rare, online programs leading to an Associate in Applied Science can serve as the first step toward a position as an activity director. Typically consisting of 60-64 credit hours, an online associate's degree program offers most of the required courses online, but you'll usually be required to serve at least one internship at a school-approved location. Examples of acceptable locations include elder care facilities, senior centers, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities or retirement communities. Some programs include CPR training, which also must be completed in person.

Online courses cover the planning, presentation, and documentation of activity programs, and they may also address crisis prevention, diversity, program development and involvement with community agencies and organizations. An abbreviated version of the degree program is sometimes offered. This consists of about half the credit hours and a single internship and can lead to a diploma in activities assisting.

What Other Online Training is Available?

Some schools offer stand-alone activity trainer courses online. Even though these are not degree courses, you'll likely need to hold a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED) for admission. Usually leading to a certificate, the courses can include such subjects as human development, the aging process, activity planning, documentation, record keeping and program development.

Many schools offer the basic training Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP) program. The MEPAP is an essential component for national certification as an activities director or assistant. Developed by the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), the MEPAP is a standardized educational program that establishes the quality of your training.

Although you'll be able to pursue most MEPAP courses online, you'll need to complete a number of practicums. At some schools, the practicums are referred to as preceptorships and require 180 real-time hours, spread out over a number of months. Under the supervision of a certified activity director, you'll gain experience coordinating various activities in long-term care centers and researching the field.

Is Qualified the Same as Certified?

Completion of an activities director program or course may result in you being categorized as 'qualified'. This is not the same as 'certified'. Certification is conferred by the NCCAP, after you've met certain qualifications. The certifications available are Activity Consultant Certified (ACC), Activity Director Provisional Certified (ADPC), Activity Assistant Certified (AAC) and Activity Director Certified (ADC). All certifications carry their own individual educational and experience requirements and are renewable every two years, with the completion of continuing education units.

However, each certification requires that you complete an MEPAP program. The MEPAP program insures that you've been instructed in the standards for activity directors established by federal regulations. According to the NCCAP, they are the only national organization that certifies activity professionals who work with seniors. Recognized by the federal government, NCCAP certification is also necessary to comply with the regulations of individual states. In addition, many employers only hire certified activity professionals (www.nccap.org).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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