Online Gerontology Degree Programs
Gerontology is the study of aging. Professionals in the science examine the biological, social, and psychological aspects of growing old. With higher life expectancies and frequent medical breakthroughs in treating aging Americans, demand for gerontology professionals will rise in the coming years as elderly patients require more individualized care.
A trained gerontologist can work in a variety of places, including health facilities, mental health centers, social service agencies, residential facilities, government agencies, community agencies, and advocacy groups.
Required Qualifications for Gerontology Careers
Many colleges and universities offer courses in gerontology, and students can choose from an undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or certificate program. The basic qualification required to enroll for a course in gerontology is a high school diploma. After the successful completion of a gerontology degree, you can transition into social work, health care, social science, and various aspects of public policy. Apart from the educational qualifications, a successful gerontologist has:
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to work with different kinds of people, especially older adults
- The desire to assist older adults
- Sensitivity, patience, and compassion
States have varying certification requirements for this profession. According to The National Association for Professional Gerontologists (NAPG), credentialing is available for graduates of formal career training programs.
For those who have completed an associate's degree or certificate program, NAPG offers credentials for work as a gerontological coordinator. Bachelor's degree grads can apply for credentials as a gerontological specialist. And those who complete a master's degree can receive designations as a gerontologist.
Online Gerontology Degree Programs
Today's online colleges and universities offer the full range of programs leading to degrees in gerontology science. Students can earn a specialist certificate in aging, a bachelor's degree in gerontology, a master of geriatric health, master of health administration with a gerontology specialization, or a master's of science degree in geriatric nursing.
Additional or advanced online training in business, management, or policy planning can prepare gerontology professionals to assume leadership positions in federal, state, and local government, private care facilities, or aging research laboratories.
Students learn how to meet the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of aging Americans, how to plan or oversee geriatric programs for long-term care facilities, or teach gerontology. The study of aging can also examine biological, economic, and social aspects affecting seniors. Students are given the opportunity to develop counseling skills, study the ethical concerns in geriatric care. Additional topics of study include government policies and medical funding issues, the effects of stress, risk factors, and chronic conditions, work and aging, and death and dying.
Gerontology Career Outlook and Salaries
Jobs for gerontologists going into social work will be plentiful. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of social and human service assistants will grow by nearly 34 percent during the 2006-2016 decade, adding approximately 114,000 jobs.
Salaries in gerontology range from just above minimum wage all the way to nurse or doctor-level salaries, depending on the professional's location, clientele, education, and expertise.
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