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Become An Activities Director

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Working As An Activities Director

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Activities Director Do

Recreation workers design and lead recreational and leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps, aquatic centers, and senior centers. They may lead activities such as arts and crafts, dance, sports, adventure programs, music, and camping.

Duties

Recreation workers typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and lead activities for groups or recreation centers
  • Explain the rules of activities and instruct participants at a variety of skill levels
  • Enforce safety rules to prevent injury
  • Modify activities to suit the needs of specific groups, such as seniors
  • Administer basic first aid if needed
  • Organize and set up the equipment that is used in recreational activities

The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, and the state they work in. The following are examples of types of recreation workers:

Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as dance, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps, aquatic centers, or anywhere else where there is interest in a single activity.

Recreation leaders are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation. They primarily organize and direct participants, schedule the use of facilities, set up and keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used and maintained properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as kayaking or golf.

Camp counselors work directly with youths in residential (overnight) or day camps. They often lead and instruct children and teenagers in a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, or nature study. Counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may specialize in a specific activity, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.

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How To Become An Activities Director

Education and training requirements for recreation workers vary with the type of job, but workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

Recreation workers typically need at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many receive on-the-job training that typically lasts less than a month.

Entry-level educational requirements vary with the type of position. For example, an activity leader position working with the elderly will have different requirements than a position as a summer camp counselor working with children.

Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree or college coursework. In 2014, the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions, a branch of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), accredited 80 bachelor’s degree programs in recreation or leisure studies. A bachelor’s degree in other subjects, such as liberal arts or public administration, may also qualify applicants for some positions.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Recreation workers must be able to communicate well. They often work with large groups of people and need to give clear instructions, motivate participants, and maintain order and safety.

Flexibility. Recreation workers must be flexible when planning activities. They must be able to adapt plans to suit changing environmental conditions and participants’ needs.

Leadership skills. Recreation workers should be able to lead both large and small groups. They often lead activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Physical strength. Recreation workers need to be physically fit. Their job may require a considerable amount of movement because they often demonstrate activities while explaining them.

Problem-solving skills. Recreation workers need strong problem-solving skills. They must be able to create and reinvent activities and programs for all types of participants.

For recreation workers who generally work part time, such as camp counselors and activity specialists, certain qualities may be more important than education. These qualities include a worker’s experience leading activities, the ability to work well with children or the elderly, and the ability to ensure the safety of participants.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The NRPA offers four certifications for recreation workers:

  • Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP)
  • Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE)
  • Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO)
  • Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI)

Applicants may qualify for certification with different combinations of education and work experience. They also must take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.

The American Camp Association offers four certificates for various levels of camp staff, from Entry-Level Staff Certificate to Camp Director Certificate. Individuals who complete online courses may show their advanced level of knowledge of core competencies.

Some recreation jobs require other kinds of certification. For example, a lifesaving certificate is often required for teaching or coaching water-related activities. These certifications are available from organizations such as the YMCA or the American Red Cross. Specific requirements vary by job and employer.

Advancement

As workers gain experience, they may be promoted to positions with greater responsibilities. Recreation workers with experience and managerial skills may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Eventually, they may become directors of a recreation department or may start their own recreation company.

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Activities Director Demographics

Gender

Female

72.1%

Male

19.0%

Unknown

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

64.7%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.0%

French

8.3%

German

3.8%

Mandarin

2.9%

Portuguese

2.9%

Chinese

2.9%

Italian

2.6%

Russian

2.2%

Japanese

1.9%

Arabic

1.9%

Korean

1.6%

Tagalog

1.6%

Hindi

1.3%

Dutch

1.3%

Yoruba

1.0%

Cantonese

1.0%

Greek

1.0%

Irish

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Hmong

1.0%
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Activities Director Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

23.5%

Ashford University

6.9%

Liberty University

6.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.8%

Western Illinois University

4.8%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

4.1%

Kaplan University

3.9%

Illinois State University

3.8%

Walden University

3.8%

Central Michigan University

3.8%

Florida State University

3.7%

University of South Florida

3.7%

Georgia Southern University

3.5%

Brigham Young University

3.5%

Eastern Kentucky University

3.5%

Radford University

3.3%

University of Central Florida

3.3%

University of Toledo

3.3%

Kent State University

3.2%

Northern Illinois University

3.2%
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Majors

Business

16.4%

Rehabilitation Science

8.7%

Psychology

8.7%

Nursing

8.5%

Health Care Administration

5.5%

Education

5.3%

Social Work

5.2%

Recreation Management

4.8%

Human Services

4.1%

Communication

3.9%

Medical Assisting Services

3.5%

Kinesiology

3.3%

Sociology

3.2%

Management

3.1%

Elementary Education

3.0%

Criminal Justice

2.9%

General Studies

2.7%

Nursing Assistants

2.5%

Gerontology

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.9%

Other

25.7%

Masters

14.8%

Associate

10.8%

Certificate

5.5%

Diploma

1.4%

Doctorate

1.0%

License

0.8%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$38,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$174,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
The Heights of Gonzales
Highest Paying City
Rapid City, SD
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.0 years
How much does an Activities Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Activities Director in the United States is $82,101 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $174,000.

Real Activities Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Activities Director (Tennis Programming) New Canaan Racquet Club New Canaan, CT Sep 09, 2015 $80,000
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Sep 01, 2010 $56,579
Activities Director HCDC Holdings LLC Glen Cove, NY Sep 12, 2013 $54,000
Activity Director Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc. New York, NY Jun 26, 2015 $53,186
Activities Director (Tennis Programming) New Canaan Racquet Club New Canaan, CT Sep 23, 2015 $45,000
Director Sports Activities West Hills Day Camp Huntington, NY Oct 01, 2009 $43,827
Activity Director Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc. Hillsdale, NY Feb 08, 2011 $42,182
Director of Sports Activities Gersh Academy, Inc. Huntington, NY Feb 01, 2014 $41,600
Director Sports Activities West Hills Day Camp Huntington, NY Oct 01, 2012 $41,600
Activities Director/Teacher Desert Christian Schools Lancaster, CA Jan 07, 2016 $41,000
Activities Director International Gymnastics School Camp, Inc. Stroudsburg, PA Feb 01, 2011 $38,000
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Jun 01, 2010 $37,524
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Apr 16, 2010 $37,336
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Sep 01, 2010 $37,336
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Mar 15, 2010 $37,336
Activity Director Early Childhood Development Associates Los Angeles, CA Sep 27, 2010 $37,336
Activity Director Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Jun 01, 2010 $37,336
Activity Director/Recreational Estrella, Inc. Bellflower, CA Jun 01, 2010 $37,336
Athletic and Activities Director Leona Arizona Employment Group, LLC Gilbert, AZ Aug 01, 2011 $37,100
Recreation and Activities Director Arbor Health, LLC Saint Louis, MO Aug 21, 2016 $32,500
Activity Director Tao Fellowship Sedona, AZ May 27, 2011 $31,658
Activity Director Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, Inc. Gaithersburg, MD Sep 16, 2015 $31,305
Activities Director Royal Gardens of St. Cloud, LLC Saint Cloud, FL Oct 20, 2012 $31,034
Director of Sports Activities Gersh Academy Huntington, NY Oct 15, 2015 $29,806
Activity Director Seacrest Convalescent Hospital CA Jan 07, 2008 $29,218
Activity Director John Bertram House, Inc. Salem, MA Jun 07, 2010 $27,500
Activity Director John Bertram House, Inc. Salem, MA Jun 01, 2010 $27,500

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Top Skills for An Activities Director

  1. Daily Activities
  2. Facility
  3. Special Events
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Planned and implemented daily activities for nursing home residents including evening and weekend activities.
  • Developed volunteer program within the facility, which included training and maintaining a professional working relationship with organizations with the community.
  • Negotiated contractual terms for facility-hosted special events and special programs.
  • Coordinated nursing department activities to ensure availability of appropriate clinical and support staff for resident care.
  • General documentation includes assessments, MDS's, care plans, progress notes, care conference notes and resident council notes.

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Top 10 Best States for Activities Directors

  1. Alaska
  2. New York
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Washington
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Oregon
  7. South Dakota
  8. Kentucky
  9. Vermont
  10. Montana
  • (2 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (0 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)

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