What Can You Do with a Gerontology Degree?

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By Published On: June 13, 2021

The field of gerontology, the study of aging and its related issues, is witnessing a remarkable surge in career opportunities. With the aging population around the world, there’s an increasing demand for professionals who can provide specialized care and support for older adults.

While exploring a major in gerontology, one of the biggest questions you might have is: “What can I do with this degree?” While there is no one career path laid out for a gerontology graduate, below are several career pathways for those interested in this field.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the fastest-growing careers in gerontology, shedding light on their day-to-day responsibilities, career growth prospects, salary ranges, and the satisfaction found in these roles.

Why Work in Gerontology?

Working in gerontology, the field dedicated to the study of aging and the well-being of older adults, offers a multitude of compelling reasons to consider:

Impactful and Rewarding Work: Gerontology professionals make a meaningful impact on the lives of older adults, helping them live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives during their golden years. The sense of fulfillment derived from improving the quality of life for seniors is immensely rewarding.

Growing Demand: With the aging population worldwide, the demand for gerontology professionals is on the rise. Job security and numerous career opportunities are available in various settings, including healthcare, social services, research, and policy development.

Diverse Career Options: Gerontology offers a diverse range of career paths, allowing individuals to choose roles that align with their interests and skills. Whether you prefer direct care, research, advocacy, policy, or administration, there’s a niche in gerontology for you.

Personal Growth: Working in gerontology provides opportunities for personal growth and development. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of aging, human behavior, and the complexities of providing care and support to older adults.

Lifelong Learning: Gerontology is an evolving field with ongoing research and advancements. Working in this field means you’ll have the chance to engage in continuous learning, keeping your knowledge and skills up-to-date as new research advances are made.

Building Relationships: Gerontology professionals often form strong and meaningful relationships with older adults and their families. These bonds can be deeply fulfilling and provide a sense of connection and purpose.

Advocacy for a Vulnerable Population: Older adults can face unique challenges, including healthcare disparities, social isolation, and financial insecurity. Gerontology professionals have the opportunity to advocate for policies and practices that improve the lives of older adults and address these issues.

High Demand for Specialized Expertise: As gerontology is a specialized field, professionals with expertise in aging-related matters are in high demand. This can translate into competitive salaries and career advancement opportunities.

Contributing to Society: By working in gerontology, you are contributing to the well-being of society as a whole. Aging affects everyone, and the work you do can have a positive impact on entire communities and future generations.

Job Satisfaction: Many professionals in gerontology find their work deeply satisfying and fulfilling. They take pride in knowing that they are making a difference in the lives of older adults, improving their health, well-being, and overall quality of life.

Working in gerontology offers a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of older adults, contribute to an essential field of study, and enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling career with numerous opportunities for personal and professional growth. If you have a passion for helping others and an interest in the challenges and opportunities associated with aging, gerontology may be a fulfilling and meaningful career choice for you.

nurse showing two older ladies something in an assisted living center

10 Fastest-Growing Careers in Gerontology

The field of gerontology is growing rapidly due to the aging population rising over the next 20 years. According to Urban Institute, the demographic of adults aged 85 and above, which typically requires assistance with fundamental personal care, is projected to almost quadruple from 2000 to 2040.

This necessitates more people moving into gerontology careers to support the needs of the aging population. Here are 10 of the fastest-growing careers in gerontology you can pursue with a gerontology degree.

1. Gerontologist

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Gerontologists are experts in aging, researching and studying the complexities of the aging process. They may conduct research, offer counseling, and develop programs to enhance the well-being of older adults and their communities. Gerontologists derive satisfaction from deepening our understanding of aging and making a tangible difference in the lives of older adults.

Career Growth: Gerontologists can progress into leadership roles, such as senior researchers, professors, or directors of gerontology programs at universities. They can also contribute to shaping policies that affect older adults.

Salary Range: Salaries for gerontologists vary by location and experience but typically range from $200,723 to $238,413 per year according to Salary.com.

2. Gerontological Counselor

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Gerontological counselors provide essential support to older adults and their families. They assess their clients’ needs, develop care plans, connect them with resources, and offer emotional support and counseling. Advocating for their clients’ rights and well-being is a fundamental part of their work. Gerontology counselors find fulfillment in improving the quality of life for older adults and their families by providing critical support during their golden years.

Career Growth: As the aging population continues to grow, there is a rising demand for gerontological counselors. They can progress into supervisory roles or specialize in areas like hospice care or dementia care.

Salary Range: According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for counselors falls between ​​$52,740 and $67,274, with gerontological counselors earning potentially more due to their specialized expertise.

3. Aging Services Administrator

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Aging services administrators oversee programs and services dedicated to older adults. They manage staff, budgets, and resources to ensure the delivery of high-quality care. Their work often involves coordinating activities at senior centers, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. These professionals derive satisfaction from creating supportive environments that enhance the lives of older adults, allowing them to age with dignity and comfort.

Career Growth: The increasing demand for services catering to older adults offers excellent career prospects for aging services administrators. They can advance into executive roles within healthcare organizations or transition to consulting and advocacy.

Salary Range: Salaries for aging services administrators vary based on the organization and location, ranging from about $38,000 to $54,000 annually according to Salary.com.

4. Healthcare Administrator

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Healthcare administrators in gerontology manage healthcare facilities and services tailored to the elderly population. They oversee operations, financial management, and quality assurance, ensuring older adults receive top-notch care. Healthcare administrators take pride in ensuring older adults receive high-quality care and that healthcare facilities operate efficiently to meet their unique needs.

Career Growth: The demand for healthcare administrators in gerontology is on the rise. Experienced administrators can ascend to higher-level positions within healthcare organizations or take on leadership roles.

Salary Range: According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for healthcare administrators is approximately $75,633, but those in gerontology may earn more due to the specialized nature of their work.

5. Program Coordinator for Senior Services

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Program coordinators for senior services plan and execute various programs and activities designed to enrich the lives of older adults. They organize events, workshops, and outings, fostering a sense of community and engagement among seniors. Program coordinators find joy in creating vibrant and inclusive communities for older adults, enriching their lives through social activities and events.

Career Growth: With a growing emphasis on senior well-being, there’s an increasing demand for program coordinators in this field. They can advance to become senior program directors or branch out into event management.

Salary Range: The salary for health program coordinators varies by location and experience but generally falls between about $41,000 and $63,000 annually according to Salary.com.

male reviewing notes

6. Policy Analyst on Aging

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Policy analysts on aging specialize in evaluating and shaping policies that affect older adults. They conduct research, analyze data, and develop recommendations to influence legislative decisions and promote better aging-related policies. Policy analysts on aging derive satisfaction from being at the forefront of advocating for policies that improve the quality of life for older adults, ensuring their voices are heard in legislative decisions.

Career Growth: Experienced policy analysts can move into senior analyst roles, advisory positions, or become advocates for aging-related policy change.

Salary Range: Salaries for policy analysts vary based on experience and location, typically ranging from around $58,000 to $74,000 per year according to Salary.com.

7. Teaching or Research

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: Gerontologists can work in a university setting, either teaching or completing research. In order to teach, typically you’ll need a doctoral degree, but you can teach undergraduate degrees with just a master’s degree. In order to become a researcher, you’ll typically need your doctoral degree, but to be a research assistant, you’ll only need a bachelor’s or master’s in the field.

Career Growth: Gerontologists can achieve tenure tracks at major universities after teaching for some time.

Salary: According to Salary.com, the salary of a professor or researcher in gerontology can vary based on location, school, and experience, but generally falls between about $76,000 and $130,000 per year.

8. Elder Care Social Worker

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: As a gerontologist, you may choose to work directly with elderly clients. You could work in a variety of social service, rehabilitation, or hospice care settings, and do work in programming for the elderly or service as an advisor.

Career Growth: There is plenty of room for advancement in elder care social work. People can become health educators and community health workers in this role.

Salary: The median annual salary for licensed clinical social workers ranges from about $72,000 to $87,000 according to Salary.com. While you may require additional certification to become a social worker, a background in gerontology will provide you with the necessary knowledge for working in geriatric social work.

two academics discussing topics by a white board

9. Nonprofit Work

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: In the nonprofit field, there are a variety of opportunities for gerontologists. A number of nonprofits focus on programming, community care, and advocacy for the elderly, including national elderly-focused nonprofits such as AARP or the National Council on Aging.

Career Growth: Gerontologists who work in the nonprofit sector can advance to become program coordinators, directors, or even non-profit executives.

Salary: The average salary for nonprofit professionals is about $53,000 to $72,000 according to Salary.com.

10. Government or Business Settings

Day-to-Day Responsibilities: The Administration for Community Living has a list of governmental agencies that provide services for seniors across the United States. Working through a government agency allows you to help enact change on the local, state, or national level and better the lives of the aging across the country.

Career Growth: Career advancement for a gerontologist in a government or business setting can offer a variety of opportunities for growth and impact. From entry-level research positions to advocacy group leader positions, opportunities abound.

Salary: According to Salary.com, the average salary range of a government analyst is $67,243 to $89,495 per year. This can vary based on your experience, level of education, and other factors.

Start Your Career in Gerontology with Concordia University Chicago

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all you can do with a gerontology degree, these are several gerontology career avenues you can explore that fall within the field. Interested in earning your master’s or doctorate in gerontology? Learn more about Concordia University Chicago’s online gerontology programs, and apply today!

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