The highest-paying jobs in gerontology include roles in nursing, social work, occupational therapy, and assisted living managers. Follow along if you are interested in this career! Individuals who 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.
Careers in Gerontology that Pay Well
- Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
- Gerontological Social Worker
- Nurse with Gerontology Specialization
- Recreational Therapist
- Assisted Living Director
1. Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
Gerontological nurse practitioners work with patients 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 the elderly popular. Nurse practitioners target these conditions to assist the patient in coping with or overcoming these problems.
According to Nurse Journal, less than one percent of the nurse practitioner workforce specializes in gerontology, despite the need for gerontological nurse practitioners and the critical roles these professionals play. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners earned an average annual wage of $120,680.
Salary: Nurse Practitioners $120,680
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of nurse practitioners to grow 46 percent from 2021 to 2031.
2. Gerontological Social Worker
Gerontological social workers are generally healthcare workers specializing in geriatrics or gerontology. They are two kinds of geriatric social workers. They either work in direct service or clinical settings. Direct-service geriatric social workers help clients in the elderly population solve and cope with everyday problems such as transportation or meals. They also help elderly patients in outpatient care facilities and hospitals transition back to their homes.
Social workers typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Additionally, most states require they hold a license. But, the requirements vary from state to state. Social workers who pursue a master’s degree can later advance and become clinical social workers.
Clinical social workers diagnose and treat behavioral, mental, and emotional issues in their elderly patients. Geriatric social workers find jobs in hospitals, assisted living facilities, private practices, and mental health facilities. The average gerontology social work earns around $50,930 a year.
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of social workers to grow 9 percent from 2021 to 2031.
3. Registered Nurse with Gerontology Specialization
Registered nurses (RNs) 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. Gerontological RNs generally work in assisted living facilities, hospitals, and mental health facilities. Their duties may include providing primary 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 patient’s care. Registered nurses earn an average wage of $77,600.
Older people have a broad range of problems and symptoms. Therefore, caregivers must know more to provide accurate information and care. In addition, this professional must have communication skills and a willingness to learn new things regularly.
Salary: RN with a specialization is $77,600
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of registered nurses (RNs) to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031.
4. Recreational Therapist
Recreational therapists continue to be in demand as the percentage of older adults grows and elderly patients live longer. These professionals 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 residential care and nursing facility employees are recreational therapists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), recreation therapists earn an average annual wage of $47,940.
Salary: a Recreational Therapist’s median annual wage is $47,940
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of recreational therapists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031.
5. Assisted Living Director
Assisted living directors are trained professionals who manage and oversee assisted living facilities, providing continuous long-term care to elderly people and individuals who need assistance with regular daily activities. They provide healthcare, housing, and personal care services. These healthcare administrators and healthcare executives coordinate medical and health benefits. Additionally, they ensure a facility complies with federal and state regulations.
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 to supervise the staff on patient care, oversee the budget, hire and fire employees, plan and direct assisted living programs, and ensure all services comply with state and federal laws. PayScale reports that assisted living directors earn an average annual wage of $68,664.
All states require nursing home administrators to have a license, but the requirements vary by state. And some states require administrators in assisted-living facilities to have a permit. In addition, most states require administrators to have a bachelor’s degree, complete a training program, and pass the national licensing exam. In some states, applicants also take a state-specific licensing exam or have work experience in a healthcare facility. The National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) website provides information on specific state licensure requirements.
Salary: Assisted Living Director’s median pay is $101,340 per year.
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of medical and health services managers to grow 28 percent from 2021 to 2031.
What is Gerontology?
Gerontology is a multidisciplinary field of study that focuses on older individuals’ mental and physical problems. It also studies the social characteristics of aging and how aging affect individuals.
Careers in gerontology include jobs in human services, government agencies, nursing homes and retirement communities, and long-term care centers. Care roles include providing this population with primary care, disease prevention, and mental health services.
What is a Degree in Gerontology?
Many colleges and universities odder a degree in Gerontology. But in addition to these programs, many individuals earn a healthcare or human services degree specializing in gerontology. Below are some degree programs for Gerontology.
- Associate Degree in Gerontology
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Gerontology
- Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) with a Gerontology Specialization
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with a Gerontology Specialization
- Gerontology Graduate Certificate
- Master’s Degree in Gerontology
- Doctoral Degree in Gerontology
Why Work in Gerontology?
Although geriatrics is one of the lowest-paying specialties in medicine, many choose this field because it allows them 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.
Why is Gerontology a Valuable Career Path?
In the last decade, the population of individuals over 65 increased by 33 percent in the US. The US Census Bureau also expects adults to outnumber children by 2035. Furthermore, the number of Americans over 85 will grow 100 percent by 2040. This is an incredible increase in the population of elderly Americans. Moreover, this increase in population will also increase the need for medical care and gerontology professionals who provide medical care.
What Are the Requirements for a Job in Gerontology?
The qualifications an individual needs for a job in gerontology vary but individuals need both academic and social skills. Job requirements depend on the job position. There are jobs in gerontology for individuals with a high school diploma to a PhD or medical degree.
Older people have a much broader range of problems and symptoms than children and young adults. So, caregivers and researchers must know more to provide accurate information and care. And jobs focusing on the elderly are typically more complicated.
Regardless of your level of education and role, there are some common characteristics of individuals who work in gerontology. These professionals must have excellent communication skills, patience, and a willingness to learn new things.
What is the Average Gerontology Salary?
The salary gerontology major graduates earn can vary depending on their career or educational program. And many gerontology major jobs focus on the health care industry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports overall salary information on Healthcare Occupations. It reports the median annual wage for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations is $75,040. Jobs in this category include registered nurses and physicians.
Healthcare support occupations include home health and personal care aides, occupational therapy assistants, and medical transcriptionists. These jobs have a median annual salary of $29,880.
Other Jobs in Gerontology
Gerontology majors have a wide variety of carer options. Below are more gerontology jobs.
Eldercare Specialist Nursing Aide
Nursing aides and home health aides care for patients who are physically or mentally ill. Nursing aides work in homes, hospitals, and mental health facilities. Whereas home health aides work in their patients’ homes. Some of the roles of geriatric aides include assisting patients with meals, helping with personal hygiene, and keeping patient’s rooms tidy. They may also administer medications or assist with medical equipment, such as ventilators.
Typically, nursing aides need on-the-job training and a high school diploma. A certified nursing assistant also needs three to twelve-week training.
Salary: Nursing Assistants $30,310
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of nursing assistants to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Qualified Professional in Developmental Disabilities (QDDP)
A QDDP is a certified healthcare professional with at least one year of work experience with people with developmental disabilities. Some healthcare workers who earn this title include a registered nurse (RN), doctor of medicine, or osteopathy. Other acceptable credentials include a bachelor’s degree in human science or rehabilitation counseling.
Salary: a Qualified Professional in Developmental Disabilities earns around $43,109
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of QDDPs to grow from 2021 to 2031.
Home Health Eldercare Aide
Eldercare specialists work in long-term nursing facilities or homes to provide care and services to older people. Home health aides care for patients who are physically or mentally ill with in-home care to older people living in their homes. They assist patients with meals, and personal hygiene, arrange social opportunities and provide transportation.
These geriatrics healthcare specialists also help patients to keep their homes and rooms tidy. They assist with medical equipment and where the therapist works. Home health aides may need vocational training from an accredited program.
Salary: a Home Health Eldercare Aide earns around $29,280 per year
Job Outlook: The BLS projects employment to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031.
With the elderly, OTs focus on restoring an independent home life for older individuals who have experienced an illness or injury. They also work with patients who have disabilities or specific medical conditions. Much of their work is helping patients improve mobility to perform basic daily living tasks. For example, gerontological OTs may help elderly patients manage an age-related condition like arthritis or recover mobility after a stroke.
Occupational therapists work in hospitals, mental health facilities, schools, and community centers. What’s the best way to get this job? Individuals need a degree in occupational therapy from an accredited program to be occupational therapists. You can interview for open positions after earning your license. Occupational therapists earn
Salary: Occupational Therapists earn around $85,550
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Occupational Therapists to grow 14 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Gerontology Community Health Worker
Geriatric community health workers work in the community to help provide a better and improved lifestyle to the elderly. They advocate for their resident’s needs with healthcare providers and social service organizations. Other duties include collecting data, discussing health concerns, and implementing wellness strategies.
To be a community health worker, individuals typically need at least a high school diploma. And they also complete a brief period of on-the-job training. And some states have certification programs for community health workers.
Salary: Gerontology Community Health Worker $48,860
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Community Health Workers to grow 12 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Geriatric Health Educator
Health educators typically create or modify workplace programs that focus on behaviors that promote wellness. They collect and analyze data to learn about a particular community. Some work to develop strategies that improve the well-being of individuals and communities. Additionally, they may help people find health services and teach them about various health topics.
Salary: Geriatric Health Educators $60,600
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Geriatric Health Educators to grow 8 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Geriatric Care Manager
Geriatric Care Managers are healthcare managers who work in long-term care facilities like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, outpatient care facilities, and adult day care centers. They oversee the care of elderly patients in their homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.
A geriatrics healthcare specialist also ensures patients receive the best possible healthcare services. They may assist with selecting healthcare personnel and coordinating medical services. These managers also evaluate other living arrangements and can relieve caregiver’s stress. Below are some of the more common requirements.
- bachelor’s degree
- a license from the state where they work (often a nursing or social work license)
- experience with patients in this population
Salary: Geriatric Care Manager’s salary $70,000
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Geriatric Care Managers is projected to grow 0 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Life Enrichment Coordinator
Life Enrichment Coordinators are social and human service assistants who provide client services and family support. They work in rehabilitation, social work, and also psychology.
A life enrichment coordinator works in the healthcare industry and helps elderly patients live more fully. They do this by providing resources and opportunities to engage in activities that will help them stay mentally active and physically healthy.
Most life enrichment coordinators hold bachelor’s degrees in social work or psychology, but some may also hold bachelor’s degrees in public administration or education. Most employers prefer applicants with several years of experience working with people with disabilities or special needs.
Salary: Life Enrichment Coordinator salary $70,000
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Life Enrichment Coordinator is projected to grow 0 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Gerontology Counselors work with older individuals suffering from substance abuse, depression, and behavioral disorders. In addition, they assist people with alcoholism, eating disorders, and drug addiction. These professionals work with clients to change their behavior with treatment and support. In some states, gerontology counselors must have a bachelor’s degree and a license.
Salary: Gerontology Counselor salary $00,000
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Life Enrichment Coordinator is projected to grow 0 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Physician Primary Healthcare Provider
Primary healthcare providers treat illnesses and injuries and provide ongoing health maintenance for elder patients. Physicians conduct routine patient exams and prescribe and manage their medications. These professionals typically counsel patients on diet and preventive healthcare and also monitor their overall physical and mental health.
Salary: average wages are $208,000 per year
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of Physician Primary Healthcare Providers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Elder Law Practitioner Lawyer
Elder law practitioner lawyers provide legal counsel and serve as advocates for the unique requirements of senior clients and their loved ones. These attorneys help clients navigate the laws, rules, and regulations related to elder care.
Individuals must earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited law school to be an elder attorney. Additionally, most states require applicants to complete three years of study at an accredited law school before they take the bar exam.
Salary: median annual wage is $127,990
Job Outlook: The BLS projects the employment of lawyers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Professional Organizations in Gerontology
Professional organizations help industry workers stay on top of trends and requirements in their field and continuing education requirements.
Check out these organizations if you’re a student or gerontology professional or want to know more about gerontology careers and to work with elderly patients.
National Association for Professional Gerontologists (NAPG)
The NAPG is the organization that issues gerontology professional credentials. It provides networking opportunities for professionals and also sets discipline standards.
Gerontological Society of America (GSA)
The GSA is the largest and oldest organization devoted to gerontology research, education, and practice. Its mission is to promote aging studies and disseminate this information to scientists, decision-makers, and the general public.
American Society on Aging (ASA)
This program works to promote change in critical areas. ASA results are framed around Ageism & Culture, Economic Security, Innovation & Social Impact, Health & Well-being, and Equity & Justice.
American Geriatric Society (AGS)
AGS is a society of senior healthcare professionals who work to improve health, quality of life for older individuals, and independence. Members include nurses, social workers, physician assistants, pharmacists, doctors, and internists.