Getting a Degree in Gerontology

A degree in gerontology can open doors to many different career paths. Great paying jobs in this area of study have opportunities in both the public and private sectors, and include jobs in a wide variety of careers such as:

  • Law
  • Health Care
  • Business
  • Social Work
  • Public Policy
  • Senior Care Administration
  • Counseling
  • Therapy
  • Research

A degree in gerontology can even provide opportunities to work for yourself by starting your own business or working as a consultant.

What is Gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of aging. A gerontologist is an expert in the process of aging and the many aspects of growing older. A gerontologist studies aging in individuals and also how aging and older individuals’ impact (and are impacted by) society as a whole.

A degree in gerontology lends itself to understanding of our aging populations, the older adults’ role in and influence on society, and also what the future holds for ourselves as we enter into older age.

A degree in gerontology is an extremely wise choice as the job market related to older adults will grow dramatically with the aging of the Baby Boomer population. By 2030 the senior population (over 65 years old) will triple to over 70 million elders and comprise 20% of the US population.  A degree in gerontology is poised for career growth as an aging population will increase demand for all things geriatric.

Associate Degree in Gerontology

An Associate Degree in Gerontology is a great starting point for those interested in the science of aging. With specialty focuses such as health care, law, public service, and senior care businesses earning an Associate Degree in Gerontology can set one on a successful career path and prepare for further education and career advancement.

Jobs you can obtain with an Associate Degree in Gerontology:

  • Geriatric Nutrition Technician-Assist in the provision of food service and nutritional programs for seniors, under the supervision of a dietitian. Work in the public sector such as in senior centers and nursing homes or in the private sector such as elder care facilities or senior care businesses. Average annual salary: $31,000.
  • Geriatric Wellness Coordinator-Educate seniors and geriatric populations in adopting healthy behaviors. Average annual salary: $35,000.
  • Geriatric Nutrition Coach-Instruct senior individuals and geriatric groups in healthy nutrition choices and diets. Average annual salary: $43,000.

Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology

Students can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology and minor in a wide variety of specialties such as health care, elder law, and social services. Conversely, many interdisciplinary bachelor degree programs will offer a minor in gerontology. For many students, a degree in gerontology is the first step in becoming a certified  gerontologist.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in an accredited school and program,  a student seeking to be a certified gerontologist completes additional specialized training focusing on the physical and psychological (mental) processes of aging. Often times a certification will be offered in conjunction with an approved bachelor’s program or it can be earned separately. Certification as a gerontologist can be desired by students and employers but is by no means a necessity in securing an excellent job (and great salary) with a stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Gerontology.

Jobs you can obtain with a Bachelor’s in Gerontology include:

  • Geriatric Community Health Worker-Assist senior individuals and elder communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Average annual salary: $44,000.
  • Geriatric Nutritional Health and Wellness Coach-Instruct senior individuals and elder communities in healthy lifestyle choices. Average annual salary: $46,000.
  • Geriatric Social Science Research Assistants-Assist social scientists in social science research. Help prepare findings for publication and assist in data management. Average annual salary: $51,000.

Master’s Degree in Gerontology

An advanced degree in gerontology would include at least one specialty focus such as health and wellness, law, public policy, therapies, social services, etc. Those earning a master’s degree can continue in their current career path with additional earning power, undertake supervisory roles, enter into research and publishing, or transition into teaching postsecondary gerontology students.

Jobs you can get with a Master’s Degree in Gerontology:

  • Geriatric Health Education Specialist-Manage senior health education programs that help individuals, families, and senior communities adopt healthy lifestyles. Average annual salary: $61,000.
  • Geriatric Dietitian and Nutritionist Specialist-Plan and conduct nutritional programs for seniors to assist in the promotion of health and control of disease. Average annual salary: $61,000.
  • Geriatric Social Services Manager-Plan, direct, and coordinate the activities of a social service program for seniors. Average annual salary: $73,000.
  • Postsecondary Teacher-Instructor for gerontology programs. Average annual salary: $74,000.

Doctoral Degrees in Gerontology

Go even further with your education and earn a Doctorate in Gerontology! Doctoral candidates typically focus on research; the possibilities for study and specialties is vast and able to be tailored to a student’s interests and desired research. Whether looking for a career in research with the government or in the private sector, starting your own business, or working as a professor a Doctoral Degree in Gerontology is certain to come with a large paycheck.

Jobs you can get with a Doctoral Degree in Gerontology :

  • Geriatric Health Care Practitioners-Holistic health care providers with a focus on geriatric care. Average annual salary: $84,000.
  • Geriatric Sociologist-Study senior populations including social institutions, individual and collective behaviors, analyze the influence on and of geriatric populations and groups. Average annual salary: $91,000.
  • Senior Recreation and Entertainment Manager- Senior management position directing and managing activities and outreach programs for elder populations at public or private sector locations such as a senior care facility or senior housing complex. Average annual salary: $119,000.

Gerontology Degree Programs

Ready to start your degree in Gerontology? Check out these great programs available at our partner schools:

Looking for an exceptional campus-based program:

  • Farmingdale State College is part of the esteemed SUNY (State University of New York) system and they offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Gerontology.
  • Bethune-Cookman University is recognized as one of the best historically black universities and offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Aging Studies.
  • Northwest Missouri State University offers a minor in gerontology to complement any of their bachelor’s degree programs.

If distance learning is your preference check out the online degrees available at:

Kansas State University offers an online Master’s Degree in Gerontology and a gerontology graduate certificate. K-State also offers gerontology as a secondary major for any of their bachelor’s degrees.

Rutgers University-Camden offers a fully online aging program with a Master’s Degree in Health Sciences, Aging Track and a graduate Certificate in Aging.

The University of Cincinnati offers an online Certificate in Gerontology, which can be completed in as little as 6 weeks. For an advanced degree, the school has an online Master of Science in Nursing Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) program where you can earn your MSN AGNP degree in just two years.

The University of Louisville offers an online Master’s of Science in Social Work with a Gerontology specialization and a post-graduate certificate for Nurse Practitioner in Adult Gerontology Acute Care.

*All average annual salaries adapted and calculated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. For more information click here.

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About the author

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Born in SoCal yet raised Tampa, Florida - Leah earned her undergraduate BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Leah earned her MA in the MALAS at San Diego State University, while also completing a graduate teaching certificate in English for Secondary Education. An avid traveler, she has visited more than 60 countries. With the birth of her son Spencer in 2012, Leah embarked on her biggest adventure (yet) as parent and Coast Guard wife.