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Gerontologists

Explore gerontology careers

gerontologist

As the average age of the world's population continues to rise, greater focus will be given to the health and well-being of older adults in society. Changes in our physical and mental health require the assistance of specialists to understand these life adjustments.

Luckily, a group of experts exists to help us deal with these changes. With the advice and knowledge of professional gerontologists, we are able to meet these aging challenges head on.

Gerontologists look at the social, physical, and psychological aspects of aging to gain insight into the aging process. According to “101 Careers in Gerontology,” by C. Joanne Grabinski, gerontologists “work with, for, and on behalf of the growing population of elders in a wide variety of settings.” Gerontology is a multi-disciplinary field that draws from the knowledge of many professionals to provide expert care and advice to people as they grow older.

Types of gerontology careers

Grabinski lists three types of career positions for gerontologists

Gerontology
  1. Gerontology workers – Gerontology workers have no formal gerontology education, but work directly with older adults. For example, a certified nurse assistant in a nursing home.
  2. Gerontological specialists – Gerontological specialists have primary degrees that are non-gerontology specific, but may have minored in the gerontology. A therapist who focuses specifically on older adults would be an example of a gerontological specialist. gerontology.
  3. Gerontologists – Gerontologists have primary degrees in gerontology, and are concerned with the scientific reasons behind aging. Gerontologists focus on researching how and why we age.

With so many different careers utilizing aspects of gerontology, it's no wonder that demand for people with gerontology backgrounds is rising. Many industries are looking to ensure they are providing older adults with services and products that pertain to the group. Specialists in interior design are needed to develop homes that adequately meet the needs of older adults. Caregivers, lawyers, educators, physical fitness specialists, therapists, bankers, and marketers with specializations in gerontology are all needed to provide service in the expanding market of older adults.

Two main specializations

Today, the field of Gerontology is also frequently separated into two main emphases or categories.

Biogerontology

As an up-and-coming focus in gerontology, biogerontology is primarily concerned with the research of the biological effects of aging and its causes. This more science-based specialization uses cutting-edge technology and research to analyze why we age and eventually die.

Social Gerontology

Social gerontology looks at society's interactions with older adults, determining if their needs are being met by community services and organizations. Social gerontologists work directly with older adults in community centers, residential homes, and through programs as counselors and direct care specialists. Social gerontologists are committed to advocacy for older adults and they help dispel myths through through speeches and presentations, books, and articles.

Roles of gerontologists

There are a number of roles for gerontologists looking to start work in the field. A gerontologist might find themselves counseling older adults, challenging common misconceptions about the aging, researching the effects of aging or diseases that affect older adults, teaching in a university setting, or advocating for better services and care for the aging. According to “Careers in Aging: Opportunities and Options,” by David A. Peterson, Elizabeth B. Douglass, and Joy Lobenstine Whittington, gerontologists usually fit into seven job roles.

  • Advocate
  • Direct Service Provider
  • Educator/Trainer
  • Manager/Administrator
  • Marketer and Product Developer
  • Program Planner and Evaluator
  • Researcher

Advocate

An advocate works to inform audiences about issues of concern. They work with older adults to raise awareness about their needs and concerns, and the appropriate responses to those concerns are. An advocate should have a strong passion for working with older adults and a drive to help others.

Direct Service provider

A direct service provider cares for and interacts with older adults to assist them with everyday life. This can include issues related to mobility, speech, learning, and preparing meals.

Educator/Trainer

Working in colleges and universities, an educator teaches future gerontologists. An educator usually has experience in the field, and imparts this wisdom on a new generation of gerontologists.

Manager/Administrator

A manager or administrator is a broad title, but managers are needed to run facilities that care for older adults. A manager or administrator is usually an experienced gerontologist with a background in business management.

Marketer and Program Developer

Marketers with a focus in gerontology are needed to help develop new products and services directed at older adults. Marketers analyze the needs of the aging to determine where services are lacking, and work with program developers to take care of those concerns.

Program Planner and Evaluator

Program planners and evaluators ensure programs are working to the best of their abilities to address the needs of older adults. They work with residential communities to ensure those needs are being met, and adjust programs if need be.

Researcher

A gerontology researcher helps to understand the effects of aging, and the aging process itself. Biogerontology is usually devoted to research in universities or laboratories; researchers focus on conducting empirically-based studies that provide important insights and new information to other gerontologists.

Where do gerontologists work?

Gerontologists find careers in a variety of locations. They are needed in educational settings, such as universities and schools to teach new generations of gerontologists. They are also needed in hospitals, to helping older adults seek appropriate medical care. Residential communities need gerontologists who understand the physical and mental needs of older adults. These gerontologists develop programs and activities like health promotion and senior theater groups. Gerontologists are also needed in marketing and corporate settings to ensure the correct services and goods are reaching older adults.

A growing field...

Medical advancements and healthier living habits are extending the life spans of humans worldwide. Gerontologists will find themselves in increasing demand throughout the next few decades, and more will be needed to assist with the growing population of older adults. Through the service of gerontologists, older adults will find a greater understanding of the aging process, and how they can deal with the physical, social, and psychological challenges of aging.

If you have a passion for working with older adults, and want to work in the field of Gerontology, you have several career options. Both clinical and research positions are available, depending on your degree and the specialization you pursue.

For more information on degrees contact schools offering degrees in psychology with either a gerontology emphasis or specialization. Positions are available for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Usually a PhD is required for research and university teaching.

Receiving a degree in psychology is excellent preparation for a career as a gerontologist. Check out schools offering degrees in psychology, or schools offering gerontology programs, for more information.

Gerontology Schools & Colleges
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4 Programs in
Online
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
  • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
Show more [+]
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
  • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Programs in
Online
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 94% of students in the 2014-2015 academic year received some form of financial aid.
  • Student to faculty ratio is 13:1, with an average class size of 15.
  • 104 full-time faculty members, and more than 71% of them hold the highest degree in their field.
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Show more [+]
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 94% of students in the 2014-2015 academic year received some form of financial aid.
  • Student to faculty ratio is 13:1, with an average class size of 15.
  • 104 full-time faculty members, and more than 71% of them hold the highest degree in their field.
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
Online
  • Ranked 21st among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Offers online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in health systems administration, international health, and more.
  • Instructs with a blend of interactive online class sessions, social connections between peers and faculty, and real-world clinical experiences.
  • Houses a multimillion-dollar research program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, The Commonwealth Fund, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Ranked 21st among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Offers online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in health systems administration, international health, and more.
  • Instructs with a blend of interactive online class sessions, social connections between peers and faculty, and real-world clinical experiences.
  • Houses a multimillion-dollar research program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, The Commonwealth Fund, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Provides career services that help students find careers that match their interests and map out a personalized career plan.
  • Offers mentorships and networking opportunities through an Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Has flexible start dates and class schedules.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Gives students the chance to earn credits for applicable military training and education.
  • Locations nationwide and online options.
Show more [+]
  • Provides career services that help students find careers that match their interests and map out a personalized career plan.
  • Offers mentorships and networking opportunities through an Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Has flexible start dates and class schedules.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Gives students the chance to earn credits for applicable military training and education.
  • Locations nationwide and online options.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
5 Programs in
Online
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
Show more [+]
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
1 Programs in
Campus
  • Gives students a new laptop they can keep as a gift upon graduation.
  • Provides students the opportunity to save up to $5,000 on their degree with Fresh Start Scholarships.
  • Offers monthly start dates so students can choose when their program begins.
  • Students can earn an Associate's degree in as few as 15 months or Bachelor's degree in as few as 30 months.
  • A private, nonprofit college founded in Ogden-West Haven, Utah, in September 1891.
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  • Gives students a new laptop they can keep as a gift upon graduation.
  • Provides students the opportunity to save up to $5,000 on their degree with Fresh Start Scholarships.
  • Offers monthly start dates so students can choose when their program begins.
  • Students can earn an Associate's degree in as few as 15 months or Bachelor's degree in as few as 30 months.
  • A private, nonprofit college founded in Ogden-West Haven, Utah, in September 1891.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Programs in
Campus
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
Show more [+]
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Programs in
Online
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities ( beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Show more [+]
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities ( beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Programs in
Campus
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Founded in 1885 as one of Minnesota’s first business schools.
  • Features small class-sizes, experienced faculty, and flexible scheduling. 
  • Teaches with a technologically-focused learning model that helps to enhance the student experience.
  • Offers online, on campus, and hybrid classes, with 19 locations across Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • Nationally accredited by Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Show more [+]
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Founded in 1885 as one of Minnesota’s first business schools.
  • Features small class-sizes, experienced faculty, and flexible scheduling. 
  • Teaches with a technologically-focused learning model that helps to enhance the student experience.
  • Offers online, on campus, and hybrid classes, with 19 locations across Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • Nationally accredited by Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Programs in
Online
  • Several student organizations are present on campus, including Alpha Chi and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Societies, intramural sports, and a student government association.
  • Main campus is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, with online options as well.
  • Originally founded in 1962 as College of the Southwest.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Show more [+]
  • Several student organizations are present on campus, including Alpha Chi and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Societies, intramural sports, and a student government association.
  • Main campus is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, with online options as well.
  • Originally founded in 1962 as College of the Southwest.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits