College of Arts & Science & University Studies
What Can I Do With a Major in Gerontology?
Gerontology is an exciting, relatively new field that has evolved considerably over the last decade. As a social science, it focuses on the social construction, meaning, and implications of the aging experience in a social context. Social gerontology integrates knowledge from anthropology, business, demography, economics, ethics, health, history, human development, law, philosophy, psychology, sociology, political science, and social policy, among other disciplines.
An interest in the study of individuals as they advance from middle age through later life; not only in the sociological, physical, and mental changes of the individual, but also the influence and existence of families, race, gender, policies, programs, economics and politics and other external factors which play a role in that individual's aging experience.
- Critical thinking
Desire to work on behalf of or with older adults
Good interpersonal skills
Good communication skills
Good observational skills
Good writing skills
Work well independently and on teams
Skills in aging research
- Gerontologists often act as community activists, encouraging government and private sector involvement with the needs of older persons. They work for non-profit organizations advocating for specific programs in health care, community services, and government policy.
- Direct Service Provision:
- Gerontologists provide social, psychological, health, or legal services. They work with individuals or small groups of older people to determine needs, develop plans, find resources, and solve problems.
- Education and Training:
- Gerontologists are active in planning, teaching, and evaluating instructional programs for older people and their families, as well as degree programs and continuing education of practitioners in aging. Educators and trainers also teach in non-credit workshops, institutes for older adults, job placement agencies, health promotion settings, nursing homes, and colleges and universities.
- Financial Services:
- Financial gerontologists are engaged in activities ranging from individual financial planning to advising, directing and managing corporate retirement systems. They are employed in a variety of sectors, including accounting, business services and non-profit organizations.
- Management and Administration:
- Gerontologists oversee the operation, staffing, expenditures, and evaluation of organizations, institutions, and agencies that serve the needs of older persons and their families. This management is carried out in a variety of social and health service institutions and organizations, in corporations, and in government agencies.
- Marketing and Product Development:
- Gerontologists are employed by corporations, organizations, and institutions to develop and market new services and products. They assess needs and wants of various groups of older persons, seek niches that are unfilled, and design advertising and information dissemination to inform older persons of the new or improved product.
- Program Planning and Evaluation:
- Gerontological specialists design, implement, and evaluate programs to meet the varied needs and interests of groups of older persons. They often work in social service and community agencies.
- Gerontologists design and conduct basic research on the mechanisms of aging as well as applied studies on program outcomes and the needs of older persons. They secure external funding, collect information, analyze the data, and report their findings. These researchers, whether working in the biological or social sciences, are increasingly in demand because of the need to understand aging and the desire to make each program as effective as possible.
- Sample Positions:
- Administrator of Adult Day Program
Administrator of Assisted Living Facility
Consultant on Aging-related Programs
Coordinator of Adult Day Center
Coordinator of Adult Education
Fitness Program Planner/Developer
Geriatric Care Manager
Nursing Home Administrator
Program Planner Evaluator
Research Assistant Researcher
Respite Care Coordinator
Marketing Researcher and Designer
- Industry Opportunities:
- Academic and Educational Settings
Business and Industry
Commercial Health Services
Federal Government Agencies
Health Care Agencies
Human Service Organizations
Local Government Agencies
Parks & Recreational Programs
Social Service Agencies
State Government Agencies
This material was adapted from Joanne C. Grabinski's (2007) 101 Careers in Gerontology, New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Note: Some careers require an advanced degree(s).
Opportunities - Graduate/Professional School
Universities offer graduate level educational programs to train professionals on becoming administrators, more advanced leaders, researchers, and clinicians in the field of aging. Pursuit of a specialization within the field of gerontology is evident by the direction of research conducted by individual universities.
A limited number of universities offer a doctoral program in gerontology, but other related disciplines are offered with a specialization in aging studies or gerontology. Those individuals seeking a career in research, teaching, or advanced clinical practice generally pursue doctoral programs.
Continuing education programs are offered through a variety of professional venues. These courses provide specific knowledge on a single topic over a limited time period for a moderate fee. The professional can contact universities, professional organizations, aging institutes, and aging affiliated businesses for possible training opportunities.
Opportunities - Experiential
Supervised practicum/internships are completed in an agency that provides services to older adults. This community-based practicum is designed to help students to apply the material learned in course work to real-life opportunities and experiences. In addition, interaction with older adults and engagement in the aging network allows the student to gain exposure as a gerontologist.
- Department of Sociology & Gerontology (375 Upham Hall, 529-2628)
- * Curriculum Requirements
* Career Opportunities
- Career Services (200 Hoyt Hall, 529-3831)
- * Career Resource Center
* Career Counseling
* Career Assistance Center
* Computerized Career Development Program
* Dictionary of Occupational Titles
* Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Arts and Science Academic Advising (146 Upham Hall, 529-3031)
- * Miami Plan & College of Arts and Science Requirements
- * Course Selection
* Career Decision Making
Developed by the College of Arts and Science Advising Office and the academic departmental offices with adaptations from Liberal Arts and Sciences - Skills - Career Opportunities, Career Planning and Placement Office, University of Michigan.