What is gerontology and is it the same as geriatrics? Gerontology is the study of the aging process and the changes in people as they age. It also includes the investigation of the effects of our aging population on society, and the application of this knowledge to policies and programs. Geriatrics, on the other hand, is the study of health and disease in later life.
As a result of the multidisciplinary focus of gerontology, it is possible to study it from other fields, e.g., psychology, sociology (social gerontology), social work (gerontological social work), medicine (biomedical gerontology), nursing (gerontology nursing). Or it is possible to take a degree in gerontology, usually as a masters degree but also as a major in a bachelors degree, as a certificate or as a PhD. This page has details of the programs, the schools where they can be taken, the prospects after completion, and more …
What is studied in an online gerontology degree?
A gerontology degree provides graduates with the skills and knowledge to assist aging clients with their social, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs. It also provide the resource management skills required to manage long-term care facilities.
As already noted, gerontology is a broad field of studies, drawing on many disciplines. Thus, a gerontology program may include psychology (especially dealing with death), anatomy and physiology, sociology, counseling, and health care management. Some states require professionals to attain licensure or certification, and the requirements vary from state to state.
To succeed in a career in gerontology, in addition to the knowledge you acquire in your gerontology courses, you also need: excellent communication skills; an interest in working with older adults; and, sensitivity, patience, empathy, and compassion.
Online programs in gerontology can be taken at all levels from Associate to Doctoral level:
At Associate level, students receive training through specific courses in gerontology and skill training experiences. Credits earned in these programs can usually be used toward a four-year degree.
At Bachelor’s level, in addition to the course listed above, gerontology classes may also include government health policies, medical funding, filing insurance claims. business management, policy, and policy planning and management. Field experience is often a required component.
At Master’s level, the curriculum covers such topics as the biological, epidemiological, psychological, and social changes caused by the aging process; cultural and social attitudes toward the aging; care and services that promote productive aging; multigenerational relationships; and the impact of an aging demographic on public policy.
At Doctoral level – Some universities offer doctoral level specializations in aging within other academic and clinical departments. A few universities offer a Ph.D. in gerontology.
Continuing education programs are available for those preparing for a new career working with aged people, for people already working who want additional knowledge, or for individuals seeking to enrich their lives. In some professions, such as social work, counseling, and nursing, continuing education is required to maintain a license or certificate.
What careers are there for gerontology graduates?
Gerontology graduates can be found in various settings, including: hospitals, health care facilities, social service agencies, residential facilities, government agencies, aging research laboratories, and community agencies. The actual gerontology jobs you qualify for depends on experience and the level of the academic qualification you have.
Associate level – an Associate degree in gerontology enables you to seek entry-level jobs or advancement in your current employment.
Bachelor’s level – a bachelor’s in gerontology qualifies you for entry-level or mid-level jobs as a gereontology practitioner and planner in local and state agencies. With a gerontology online degree, you can also work in areas such as public policy, social sciences, and social work.
Master’s level – a masters in gerontology prepares you to become a skilled administrator, planner, and practitioner in gerontology.
Doctoral level – a PhD gerontology prepares you for a career in gerontological research, teaching, administration, or clinical practice.
Expected Salary and Projected Career Growth
The United States of Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in view of the aging population, opportunities in social and human services for gerontologists will continue to grow. The income level with a gerontology online degree varies depending on whether one is a paraprofessional – aide or assistant – to whether one is a nurse, doctor, or health care administrator. The range is $29,000 to $56,000 a year.
List of schools and programs