Gerontologist Job Description and Career Outlook

A gerontologist is a healthcare professional who works with elderly patients. The interaction between the provider and the patient usually takes place in a nursing home, senior citizen center, hospital, public health office, or similar facility. Anyone thinking of becoming a gerontologist should have excellent communication skills and a desire to help elderly people physically, socially and mentally.

Gerontologist Requirements and Common Required Tasks

There are three common types of gerontologists: research gerontologist, applied gerontologist and administrative gerontologist. The type of education required varies depending on which area of gerontology is chosen and what type of institution one is employed at. Research gerontologists research the aging process and living environments of elderly people to understand and enrich the lives of seniors. For this area of gerontology, a Ph.D. or masters degree in gerontology or a similar field is required. Applied gerontologists work directly with the elderly. Their usual responsibilities include working with community agencies, other individuals, families and groups on behalf of the patient. For this area of gerontology, applicants must have a GED or high school diploma. Administrative gerontologists use their training and job skills to create and coordinate services that will benefit seniors. This type of gerontologist generally requires an associate or bachelor’s degree in gerontology or a related field.

Gerontologist Salary and Career Outlook

There are many factors that impact the salary of a gerontologist. These factors include the type of gerontology the person is employed in, geographic location, level of education and type of institution. The salary range for this type of employment is $19,000 to $120,000, with the median income being $53,000. This type of job is expected to grow greatly over the next decade. The population is aging at a rapid rate and because of this, more gerontologists are needed to handle the needs of seniors.

How to Become a Gerontologist

Currently there are no state board exams or certificates available for gerontologists. However, many colleges and accredited institutions offer degrees and training programs for this degree. The type of gerontology you would like to specialize in will determine the type of education needed.