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What Qualifications Do You Need to Work in Senior Care?


What Qualifications Do You Need to Work In Senior Care?

If you are ready to begin your career in senior care or are a veteran in the field looking to switch up your role with residents, it’s wise to investigate your dream job before you begin brushing up your resume. Senior living communities are interesting places to work because the industry’s workforce is a combination of healthcare and hospitality roles. If you aren’t quite sure what qualifications are required to work in senior care, here is a quick rundown of common roles and their expected qualifications.

Executive Director

The executive director of a senior living community is the leader of the entire organization. It’s a great deal of responsibility and requires the ability to make decisions that are resident centered as well as business minded. Most senior living companies look for an executive director who has a degree in business or healthcare management, along with a successful management career.

However, not all executive directors come to a community with a resume full of upper management experience. Some executive directors work their way up through an organization and have experience working in a variety of departments. These candidates are typically excellent leaders because they know what it is like to care for residents and family members.


An administrator is typically the leader of an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Administrators report to the executive director if the community features a continuum of care, or serve as the community’s sole leader if it is not on a campus. An administrator requires strong management skills as well as the ability to work with a clinical team.

Not all administrators have a nursing or clinical background, but many of them can “talk the talk” with an interdisciplinary team. These leaders are also crucial to the family communications side of the business and should be able to demonstrate plenty of empathy. 

Resident Care Director

A leader of the clinical team, the resident care director is typically a nurse, whether they’re a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), a registered nurse (RN), or less commonly, a licensed practical nurse (LPN). These leaders are responsible for overall resident care and play a part in hiring and scheduling caregivers. Most senior living companies search for a resident care director with the clinical experience and staff management experience that will keep residents healthy and staff happy.

Dining Director

Responsible for the entire dining experience for residents, the dining director must have a background in hospitality or healthcare in order to succeed. This leader doesn’t have to be a trained chef, but they should be able to communicate clearly with trained culinary arts staff members as well as have the charisma to be the face of the department for residents or family members.

Activities Director

Sometimes called lifestyle or engagement directors, these leaders are responsible for activities, events, trips, and other social opportunities throughout the community. Many senior living communities look for candidates with a degree in recreation or with an activities certification, though it is not always necessary for the right person. Candidates for this position must be flexible, creative, and experts at event planning.

Care Staff

The most important role in a senior living community, caregivers are the foundation of a community’s success. Though some communities require caregivers to have a certified nurse assistant (CNA) or certified medical assistant (CMA) certification, others look for other indicators of dedication to senior service. Other positions, such as activities staff or dining team members, require applicants to have a strong passion for serving others, creativity, and a dedicated work ethic.

Senior living is a dynamic industry, changing regularly in order to anticipate and meet resident needs. This makes it an exciting field to work in because your dream job may not even exist yet.

Want to learn more about senior living jobs or keep up with what is happening in the industry? Join the Arbor Company’s Talent Network.