5 Top Paying Careers in Gerontology

5 Careers in Gerontology that Pay Well

  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontological Social Worker
  • Nurse with Gerontology Specialization
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Assisted Living Director

Individuals that are interested in working with the elderly and finding ways to help them often choose a career in gerontology. Gerontology is a field that involves the study of aging and many of the cognitive, cultural, social and psychological aspects of aging. As baby boomers continue to age and live longer, the career opportunities for gerontology professionals will continue to grow, which will put out a demand for qualified geriatric healthcare workers. Here are five top-paying careers in gerontology.

1. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner

Gerontological nurse practitioners work with elderly patients and try to help them overcome and manage many illnesses and conditions that can affect them. Many chronic, debilitating and long-term conditions can pose potential risks to elderly patients, and nurse practitioners target these conditions so they can assist the patient in coping with or overcoming these problems. Despite the need for gerontological nurse practitioners and the important roles these professionals play, less than 1 percent of the nurse practitioner workforce specializes in gerontology according to Nurse Journal. Nurse practitioners earned an average annual wage of $107,480 as of a May 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

2. Gerontological Social Worker

Gerontological social workers are generally healthcare workers with a specialization in geriatrics or gerontology. They may be one of two kinds of gerontological social workers: direct-service or clinical. Direct-service social workers help elderly clients solve and cope with every-day problems such as transportation or meals. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat behavioral, mental and emotional issues in their elderly patients. Geriatric social workers can be employed in hospitals, assisted living facilities, private practices and mental health clinics. These social workers earn an average annual wage of $45,506.

3. Registered Nurse with Gerontology Specialization

Registered nurses who are certified as gerontology nurses are very much in demand. Depending on the facility, an RN working in gerontology may be required to have this certification. You generally find gerontological RNs working in assisted living facilities or hospitals. Their duties may include providing basic patient care, managing and overseeing the nursing staff, communicating with patients on their care and needs, dispensing medication and collaborating with medical personnel regarding the patients’ care. Registered nurses earn an average wage of $73,550 as of 2017.

4. Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists continue to be in demand as the percentage of older adults grow and the elderly patients are living longer. Recreational therapists create and develop recreational programs for elderly patients using arts, crafts, drama, music, exercise, field trips and similar activities. They also help patients cope with anxiety, depression and stress; assess patients’ needs based on medical records; have discussions with medical personnel; evaluate interventions, and develop treatment plans. About one-third of the employees at residential care and nursing facilities are recreational therapists. Recreation therapists earn an average annual wage of $48,190 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. Assisted Living Director

Assisted living directors are trained professionals who manage and oversee assisted living facilities, which is a facility that provides continuous long-term care to elderly people and individuals who need assistance with normal daily activities. They provide healthcare, housing and personal care services. The assisted living director ensures that services, programs and maintenance are administered correctly and that each employee performs their duties in compliance with policies. Assisted living directors supervise the staff on patient care, oversee the budget, hire and fire employees, plan and direct assisted living programs and ensure all services are in compliance with state and federal laws. PayScale reports that assisted living directors earn an average annual wage of $68,664.

Related Resource: Top 20 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in Gerontology Online

Although geriatrics is one of the lowest paying specialties in medicine, many choose this field because it offers the opportunity to work with the elderly and help them transition into the final stages of their lives. To the right individuals, few things can be as rewarding as careers in gerontology and the chance to help elderly patients when they’re in the most vulnerable time of their lives.