Cells, tissues, and organs deteriorate as humans age. These result in various physical and psychological changes in older people. With this biological outlook, gerontology acknowledges that a human body can weaken and become more vulnerable to infections, illnesses, and diseases (Ohio University, 2020).
Gerontology studies aging and the difficulties that go with it. The field takes an integrative approach, merging biology, psychology, and sociology to better grasp the process of aging. It even traces the biological, psychological, and sociological impacts of aging on an adult’s younger family members (National University, n.d.).
Let this article help you navigate different gerontology career paths, options, and salary.
Gerontology is the perfect career path for those who love working with the elderly. Patience, keen attention to the needs of the patients and clients, and the capacity to offer support to adults experiencing physical and cognitive challenges are must-haves for every gerontology professional.
A gerontology education can qualify you for careers in nursing, social work, occupational therapy, education, as well as management, research, and policy (Best Colleges, 2020).
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that between 2019 and 2029, there will be a massive employment increase in the health care industry. In the same timeframe, the BLS also expects that home health and personal care aide roles would experience a 34% job increase, nursing assistant roles would have an 8% increase, and social worker roles would have a 13% increase (Best Colleges, 2020).
See the table below to know the average gerontology salary and career outlook.
|Job Role||Average Yearly Salary||Career Outlook|
|Home Health Aide||$25,280||34%|
|Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)||$90,130||14.3%|
|Gerontological Social Worker||$57,807||18%|
Besides learning about the process and challenges of aging, gerontology graduates also delve into how society is impacted by an aging group. Take note of the essential skills for gerontology careers.
An entry-level gerontology career only requires at least a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Any of these options span two years or less and equip students for nursing aid, orderlies, and occupational therapy assistant jobs.
A bachelor’s degree is the key to achieving your career development plan in gerontology. Furthermore, a graduate degree is required for higher positions, like geriatric care managers and adult-geriatric nurse practitioners (Best Colleges, 2020).
Home and Personal Care Aide
Home and personal care aides assist patients with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and/or physical or cognitive problems. They help them perform daily activities, like attending to appointments, cooking, driving, and taking medications.
Median salary: $25,280
Medical assistants help nurses, doctors, and health care administrators provide clinical services at health care facilities. They prepare laboratory tests, document patient records, and administer medications.
Median salary: $34,800
Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers arrange social service initiatives for communities. They also handle a social workers team and other workers offering social services to others. They normally work for government bodies and nonprofits.
Median salary: $43,366
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
Certified occupational therapy assistants help registered occupational therapists in rehabilitating people with disabilities or injuries.
Median salary: $43,180
There are no certain certification requirements for gerontology jobs, but some entry-level gerontology positions only require a certificate. These jobs are typically in nursing homes, senior daycare centers, or private homes. However, a high school diploma is required to enroll in an undergraduate certificate program (World Wide Learn, n.d.).
If your career in gerontology is headed to a more progressive path, you must invest time and money to obtain a master’s or doctorate degree. You may also opt to take a gerontology graduate certificate, which can be completed in less than a year (Best Colleges, 2020).
Medical and Health Services Manager
Medical and health services managers plan, systematize, and manage the health care and medical services of hospitals, assisted living establishments, and group medical practices.
Median salary: $69,815
Occupational therapists aid people with physical disabilities in developing skills to perform tasks. They are employed in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and occupational therapy offices. These professionals must earn a master’s degree and all states require them to hold a license.
Median salary: $65,418
Physician, Geriatric Specialist
Physicians whose specialization is in geriatrics focus on diagnosing, curing, and preventing illnesses in the elderly. They specialize in general medicine prior to specializing in geriatrics. They need to finish medical school and a minimum of three years of residency. They also need to earn a medical license.
Median salary: $190,420
Postsecondary Teacher, Health
Postsecondary teachers teach at community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. They develop academic programs, evaluate student learning, and teach courses. They may also do their own research and publish them.
Median salary: $97,320
The American Nurses Credentialing Center issues adult-gerontology certification to clinical nurses and nurse practitioners, who need to be licensed. The National Association for Professional Gerontologists also issues certifications to professionals with gerontology degrees (Best Colleges, 2020).
Curiosity, the highly demanding atmosphere of gerontology, or the desire for change makes some gerontology professionals take nondirect patient care roles (Stromsdorfer, 2020). Browse some alternative career options for gerontology in this section.
Mental Health Therapist
Through psychotherapy, mental health therapists help people during their most distressing moments. Gerontology professionals switching to a mental health role can help patients and family members alike cope with the process of aging.
Private Health Coach
The love for health is apparent in many occupational therapists. Some of them even switch to establishing their own health coaching businesses to help people improve their overall health and quality of living.
Often, an urge to chase a career in assisting the elderly is motivated by a personal, familial case. While working with older clients might not seem an easy endeavor, a gerontology job can be beneficial in many ways. It teaches you not just to be good at what you do, but to also develop real empathy for your clients, thereby improving your values in life. The elderly can also share their experiences and wisdom with you.
Not all careers can be as personally satisfying as gerontology, especially with the fact that financially rewarding careers are almost everywhere (Mommy’s Memorandum, n.d.).