How to Become a Gerontologist

A gerontologist is a professional with expertise in aging. A gerontologist can work in a number of different fields including medicine, physical fitness education and training, home health care or nursing homes, social work, counseling, estate planning, nutrition, research, product design and many more. Becoming a gerontologist means you have a wide selection of careers and jobs to consider. Salaries vary by field.


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    Pursue gerontology education. There are several options from which to choose.
    • Choose a minor in gerontology for a specialization of a more general major such as psychology, nursing, social work, biology, health-related fields and sociology. This option works for those entering or already enrolled in a college or university, who already know they'd like a career that caters to the elderly.
    • Some schools offer a post-baccalaureate certificate program in gerontology. This is especially helpful for students whose degree is old and choose to come back to specialize in gerontology.
    • Seek a master's degree emphasis to develop a graduate program of study from various courses in related fields.
    • Continuing education is a popular option for students looking for just a few specific classes on a given topic in gerontology. It's less expensive than a certificate or other full-program in gerontology. You get to take only the classes that apply for the job you want (or have.)
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    Purchase a membership in a professional organization. Professional organizations offer opportunities for more training and education, credentials for getting better and higher paying jobs, and the access to publications and resources pertinent to the field of gerontology.
    • The largest gerontology association is The Gerontological Society of America, also known as GSA. Students in the process of learning how to become a gerontologist get a reduced membership rate to join GSA and have access to resources such as mentoring, networking and career services.
    • Another organization, National Association for Professional Gerontologists, or NAPG, offers continuing education courses for members. Credentials are renewed biannually with the completion of 20 hours of approved activities such as presentations, meetings, conferences or classes.
    • You can also find professional organizations by your specific field in gerontology, like the National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) or The American Geriatrics Society (AGS), or by your region, such as the Oregon Gerontology Association or the Massachusetts Gerontology Association (MGA).
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    Gain experience with an internship. Often required in educational programs, these opportunities can sometimes lead to permanent employment.
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    Volunteer your services with agencies in the field of gerontology. Not only can volunteer work lead to paid positions, it can also provide valuable networking opportunities for your job search.
    • These agencies can include your local state department of aging, housing agencies for low-income senior citizens and wellness centers for the elderly. You can also volunteer at retirement homes, senior centers and geriatric offices.
    • As a student, you can also check into the possibility of volunteering for a faculty member's research projects to gain experience and knowledge.


  • Take advantage of gerontology newsletters. These often contain job postings.

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Categories: Aged Care