How to become an activity coordinator: a step-by-step guide
Updated 17 July 2023
If you're passionate about helping others, you may wish to consider a career as an activity coordinator. These professionals organise and coordinate group activities. Learning the steps for becoming an activity coordinator can help you maximise your potential career opportunities. In this article, we discuss how to become an activity coordinator by reviewing their typical education and exploring helpful skills.
How to become an activity coordinator in 9 steps
The following is a guide on how to become an activity coordinator in nine steps:
1. Learn what an activity coordinator is
An activity coordinator or recreational therapist is a healthcare professional who creates and coordinates enrichment activities for programme participants or residents of a particular facility or institution. They usually work in healthcare facilities, recreation facilities, nursing homes or rehabilitation centres. For example, some activity coordinators provide services to students, children with disabilities or seniors in a retirement or nursing home. An activity coordinator creates and manages those activities to educate participants, promote socialisation and improve the participant's physical and cognitive skills. Here are some activities an activity coordinator oversees:
arts and crafts
physical fitness programmes
learning activities or trips
2. Discover the duties of an activity coordinator
Learning the duties of an activity coordinator can help you prepare to perform them. It also gives you some insight into activity coordinators' skills to execute their responsibilities. Responsibilities of an activity coordinator typically include:
developing programmes and overseeing activities
working with activity directors to get the necessary material for staff, such as reserving a room for an event
developing promotional materials and distributing them before the start of activities
training staff or creating teams to manage specific duties in an event
supervising activities staff during the event to ensure they follow the programme and activity protocols
ordering and maintaining supplies for various activities, which involves managing inventory, overseeing logistics, receiving inventory and inspecting deliveries for quantity and quality standards
collaborating with and managing volunteer staff and managing activity attendance records
developing and managing a transportation programme and scheduling trips
securing and maintaining activity equipment and facilities after the programme
ensuring a safe environment for activity participants, adapting activities to suit participants and incorporating everyone
overseeing the budget for events and activities
developing calendars for events and activities
3. Learn about the work environment
Many activity coordinators have full-time positions and some work evenings, weekends and holidays. They usually work with public servants, therapists, nurses and institution managers to develop and execute activities for clients or residents. Activity coordinators also work with volunteers who provide extra support to coordinate activities. Some places that employ activity coordinators include healthcare facilities, nursing homes, retirement facilities, schools, resorts, private organisations and government agencies.
4. Get the relevant education
Pursue education relevant to an activity coordinator job to learn their skills and fulfil your responsibilities with expertise. The minimum educational requirements for an activity coordinator entry-level role are a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and a diploma in a relevant field. Many employers ask for an activity coordinator with a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree or higher also improves your chances of getting a senior role, such as an activities director. Some degree Fields relevant to an activity coordinator job include hospitality management, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation and recreation and leisure studies.
To improve your expertise as an activity coordinator, consider taking classes in the following subjects:
5. Acquire an activity coordinator's skills
Learn and practise the skills that help activity coordinators to execute their responsibilities. Some skills an activity coordinator requires include:
An activity coordinator uses leadership skills to plan and execute various events successfully. Leadership skills also enable activity coordinators to delegate tasks to staff members and volunteers to meet the programme's goals. For example, an activity coordinator can assign a volunteer to help with the setup and a staff member to promote an upcoming event.
Activity coordinators connect with various parties to plan and coordinate activities to fulfil different objectives. This includes communication with management staff to coordinate an ideal time, budget, place and staff support for an activity. Activity coordinators also communicate with staff and external contractors to coordinate various aspects of an activity, such as transportation, and participants to prepare and engage them in the activities.
Activity coordinators who work in care facilities such as nursing homes, retirement homes and rehabilitation facilities require patient care skills to address the individual needs of activity participants. For example, they can suggest exercises to improve participants' blood circulation or other specific matters. They also plan and coordinate activities that help patients with their cognitive processes and mental health.
Activity coordinators apply creative thinking to design events and make them beneficial and fun. They also apply creativity skills to accommodate patients' requirements when designing activities. For example, creating and coordinating activities for children with disabilities requires creativity to ensure full participant engagement.
Activity coordinators are typically responsible for creating an activities calendar and a schedule for specific events. Excellent time management skills help them address every aspect of an event before it occurs. Activity coordinators also apply their time management skills during activities to strictly adhere to the schedule.
Activity coordinators require first aid skills to manage any emergencies during the activities. For example, they often know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is a procedure that helps a patient with breathing difficulties. First aid skills also involve knowledge and maintenance of first aid equipment.
Related: How to become a lifeguard
An activity coordinator requires strength and stamina to set up an event venue. It's also often necessary for them to stand for many hours to coordinate an event. A high level of physical fitness allows an activity coordinator to lead and participate in any physical activity, such as sports.
Activity coordinators require flexibility to accommodate any changes in planning. Flexibility helps them manage unforeseen challenges with a calm and positive attitude. It also makes them open to learning new skills to help with activities planning and coordination.
Attention to detail
Activity coordinators require attention to detail to promote accuracy and thoroughness when completing tasks. They use attention to detail to ensure they include all aspects when planning these activities. Attention to detail can help activity coordinators notice any minor issues that may significantly affect an ongoing activity.
Activity coordinators require safety knowledge to take appropriate precautions when planning and coordinating activities. For example, they use this knowledge to create safety rules to minimise risks of injury, damage or loss during activities. They also apply safety knowledge to enforce safety rules during the activity.
6. Gain professional experience
Gain some professional experience to start your career as an activity coordinator. Consider volunteering in locations that require activity coordinators, such as retirement homes. Activity coordinators can also gain professional experience through internships where they work with recreational therapists and learn to plan and coordinate activities to meet various goals. An entry-level position in a relevant organisation gives an activity coordinator experience and an opportunity to grow their career.
7. Get certifications and advance your education
Consider getting certification to improve your job opportunities and show employers you have the necessary qualifications to provide professional services. For example, consider the National Activities Provider Association (NAPA) course and membership certification. It's a course that provides professional development and opportunities to support activities and engagement. Consider getting other supplementary certifications, such as a first aid, CPR or psychology certificate, to make you a unique job candidate.
8. Create a CV and apply for jobs
Create a CV and apply for jobs to serve as an activity coordinator. Write a different CV for each job application to show you meet specific job demands. In your CV, include your contact information, professional summary, work experience, skills and education or certifications. Consider attaching a cover letter to discuss your qualifications at length or if you're making a career switch. Prepare for interviews effectively by reviewing common interview questions.
9. Develop and maintain a professional network
Activity coordinators require a good professional network to find job opportunities and execute some of their responsibilities well. For example, a good professional network can help them learn new activities to implement in events. A professional network also helps you to collaborate with other activity coordinators and professionals to make activities more engaging and effective.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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