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Requirements and Certifications for Senior Living Executives


Senior living executives wear many hats. They often work directly with residents, becoming friends, confidantes, and advocates. They must also lead a team that may be comprised of people with diverse interests, skills, and personalities. In that role, they must coach and encourage the people whom they hire, fire, and discipline. This can feel like an impossible balancing act, but it offers immense rewards. Senior living executives shape the future of senior living, setting policies that can make a remarkable difference in the lives of seniors, their families, and community staff.

The right training is critical to success as a senior living executive. Certifications ensure you have the training you need.

Senior Living Certifications: What You Need to Know

Certifications offer more than just a chance to add a few letters after your name. They provide you with real, actionable skills that can help you ascend the career ladder and succeed as an executive. When an opportunity to get a certification presents itself, take it. This shows your company that you’re committed to advancing your own growth.

The Senior Living Certification Commission Certified Director of Assisted Living is the gold standard for senior living directors. It requires at least a bachelor's degree, an exam, and either 2,000 hours of work experience as an assisted living community executive director, or 6,000 hours of work experience in a management position at an assisted living community. Argentum, which partners with the Senior Living Certification Commission to form the certification, offers a comprehensive primer designed to prepare test-takers to pass the test the first time.

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Certification Steps to Take

To begin a career as an executive in senior living, you must first gain experience in the field of senior living. Because you’ll need a college degree to become an executive, consider completing school first. Some executives began their careers going to school at night while working low-level senior living jobs during the day. The key is to find a position that caters to your talents and offers room for growth.

After you’ve begun your senior living career, follow this path to executive success:

  1. Go above and beyond at work. Senior living communities notice people who work hard and care for residents. By committing to your daily work, you’ll gain valuable experience that will ultimately shape your role as an executive.
  2. Form close relationships with people at every level of your company. The higher-ups can help you build your career, but support from lower-level workers also matters, and can ultimately affect your ability to manage them.
  3. Get a mentor who can help you sharpen your management skills.
  4. Finish college, if you haven’t already. A degree in management can prepare you for the demands of life as an executive.
  5. Seek licensure in your state. In many states, senior living executives must be licensed.
  6. Complete the Certified Director of Assisted Living certification. If you have an opportunity to complete other continuing education or certification programs, take it.
  7. Apply for a desired position as soon as it opens.

Benefits of a Professional Certification

As you’re reaching greater and greater career success, studying for a certification might seem like a frustrating distraction. But Argentum’s certification confers real benefits, including:

  • Bridging knowledge gaps. If your primary senior living experience is in working with residents, you may need to sharpen managerial and leadership skills.
  • Displaying the community’s and the industry’s commitments to quality care and self-regulation.
  • Marketing your community as committed to a high level of executive expertise.
  • Preparing you for the unique challenges of executive life.
  • Gaining the trust of the people you will manage.
  • Encouraging you to think critically and creatively about the daily concerns you’ll encounter as an executive.
  • Promoting a sense of professional belonging.

Arbor works with our team members to grow their careers, promote professional achievements, and recruit the best possible leaders we can find. To learn more about what we offer, or to view available positions, check out our Careers page.