December 8, 2021

How to Become an Activities Director or Coordinator

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Do you want to know how to become an activities director or activities professional? Are you asking, "What does it mean to be an activities director and what does it entail?"

If you’re looking for a rewarding career making a positive impact on the lives of those around you, becoming an activities director might be perfect for you. In this blog post we’ll talk about what it takes to become an activity director, as well as the benefits, challenges, and qualities you will need to be a successful activities director or activities coordinator at a community or senior center

What Do Activity Directors Do?

Activities professionals have a wide range of community duties, including: 

  • Coordinating staff schedules
  • Maintaining equipment and rooms used for activities
  • Planning activities for the communities or supporting the activities coordinator in this role 
  • Supervising staff or volunteers, from hosting events to getting them comfortable with using technology 

You’ll probably find yourself scheduling movie and trivia nights, bingo games, exercise classes, community outings, and a wide variety of other events to keep the seniors in your care entertained and engaged.

But, there’s much more to the job than just those things. Activities directors can have a profound impact on the seniors they work with, so it’s important to have a lot of compassion and care, a strong desire to help others and a lot of creativity

How Can I Become an Activities Director or Coordinator?

There are different paths to a career as an activities director, though how you get there isn’t as important as the skills, training and abilities you bring to the job. 

While people with only some college credits or an associate degree can sometimes find positions as activities directors, most people in this profession start by earning a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management, recreation therapy or a related field. 

Many seek certification in senior living management as well. You’ll want to study a curriculum covering subjects like gerontology and geriatric medicine, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and the laws and regulations that apply to long-term care. 

Get ahead of the curve by keeping up with news on options in telehealth like telecare and telewellness, virtual and hybrid activities calendars, the importance of social wellness, and even recreation management platforms that can help make an activity professional’s job easier. 

Understanding the challenges and needs of the elderly, common conditions and ailments and how these are addressed both medically and from a social aspect are important requirements for a successful career in elder care.

What Are the Benefits of Being an Activities Director?

Many people go into this profession out of a strong desire to help the elderly get the most out of their golden years. Planning activities and events can be an enjoyable part of your career as an activities director, and for many, the most important benefit is the quality of life they bring to the older adults they care for. 

Keeping seniors interested and engaged brings its own rewards as you get to know them. Learning their preferences and favorite pastimes can enable you to plan activities that they’ll be sure to enjoy, and that itself can be a fulfilling part of the job.


But there are other benefits, including job security, since the demand for activities directors is high and expected to increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job growth in this profession will be from 16 to 22 percent—much more than twice the average of most other professions. 

There are a growing number of older citizens, and as the population ages, the number of seniors needing senior centers, senior living communities, and nursing homes will continue to increase. If you choose to become an activities director, you’ll have considerable job security.

What Challenges Do Activities Directors Face?

If you’re wondering how to be a good activities director, it’s important to consider some of the challenges working in an assisted living home or senior center presents. 

Planning activities and events that seniors enjoy can be demanding—you have to get to know the people in your care well enough to know what appeals to them, and what would be appropriate for those who may have declining abilities. 

Activities directors do more than just plan activities: they also will need to be managers: of staff, volunteers, instructors, and anyone else involved in the day-to-day of activity planning at community centers. You may need to recruit—and train—volunteers to assist in activities, and you’ll need to keep current with the latest developments in senior care, such as technological advances that bring greater quality of life to older adults

Want to make these challenges a little easier?  Book your free demo with Televeda today so we can support your activity needs, and take away the burden from your staff.

How Much Do Activities Directors Make?

Exact amounts can vary depending on location, education, any certification you might hold, additional skills or abilities and, of course, the amount of experience you have in the profession. 

Typical salary ranges for activities directors are between $40,000 and $70,000 per year, with the median salary being around $50,000. Various benefits will depend on your employers, as well as your exact title. 

Qualities Needed to Be a Successful Activities Director

You may have noticed the emphasis placed on creativity, compassion and empathy, but it bears repeating. Medical professionals may be responsible for bringing more “years to their life,” but you’ll be responsible for bringing more life to their years. 

The core of the job is about caring. A great activities director is someone who really cares about the seniors they work with, someone who sees them as complete people worthy of consideration and care. 

You’ll be responsible for making sure they continue to enjoy full lives for as long as possible, and it takes a special kind of person to make that happen. The most important quality for this profession--like many jobs--is the love you bring to it.

Want Help Building Your Activities Director Skills?

There are many different ways to be a great activities director, and many excellent resources you can call on.

Our blog posts on How to Teach Technology to Older Adults and 10 Ways to Use Virtual Programs to Engage Older Adults will show you how to leverage technology to make seniors feel more connected and engaged, How to Find Funding for Technology is your go-to guide for upping your activities schedule game, and Best Online Activity Director Resources of 2021 presents a list of resources to make your job easier—and their lives more rewarding.

Plus, check out these sites that offer more resources for activity professionals

Activities Professionals Make All the Difference

The transition into an assisted living center can be difficult for many seniors, as they leave familiar surroundings and adjust to new routines. Though many view going into a nursing home as a negative thing, most seniors are surprised to find they are happier, healthier and have fuller lives after making the transition. A good activities director can make all the difference.

Want some additional support engaging your seniors and keeping them socializing? Book your free demo with Televeda today! 

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