Careers in Aging
What is Gerontology?
Gerontology is the study of aging with a particular interest in later life. It is a multidisciplinary field of study that
recognizes the importance of the biological, psychological, and social aspects of aging (biopsychosoical). Some gerontology programs tend to focus on one particular aspect of aging, though in many cases areas of study tend to overlap.
The biological study of aging is concerned with physical changes in people as they age, and is commonly associated with geriatrics, which is the sub-specialty of medicine that focuses on the health care of older people.
The psychological study of aging generally focuses on the scientific study of the mind and its functions related to the aging process, and how its impact on individual or micro level behavior.
The study of social aspects of aging includes the investigation of changes in society over time or changes related to population aging.
There are dozens gerontology and aging related programs in Ohio that specialize in particular areas of aging, and many that offer various combinations of the three different areas. For a complete list of available programs see (link to aging programs in Ohio).
Why Study Aging?
Population aging is occurring at the global level, and impacts everyone. Our understanding of what it means to be “old” is changing. For example, old age is commonly associated with disease, chronic illness, and functional limitations, but research in the biology of aging frequently dispels myths about the association between the aging process and physical decline. Additionally, aging is frequently related to negative psychological characteristics and declines in cognitive functioning, but old age has also been found to be a period of growth and achievement. Population aging is restructuring society in a way that influences the ordering of what we considered normal life transitions (e.g., education/work/retirement), and gaining a better understanding of the societal impacts is imperative to the development of social policy. Today is an exciting time to study aging, and there are many opportunities to make a positive impact in the field of aging.
What Jobs and Careers are Available?
There are many different jobs and careers opportunities in aging. Some include such roles as:
- Direct service provider
- Marketer and product developer
- Program planner and evaluator
Source: Is Aging the Field for You? 101 careers in Gerontology, by C. Joanne Grabiniski (2007). Springer.
Gerontology and aging programs are often tailored to fit specific job and career opportunities – discuss these issues with program representatives.
How Do I Become a Professional in Aging?
First, you need education and training. Gerontology is a relatively new and rapidly growing discipline that offers degrees at the associate, bachelor, and doctoral levels, as well as many certificates. Additionally, many “traditional” disciplines (e.g.., biology, psychology, social work, sociology, anthropology, political science, law), offer specialty areas in aging.
Earning a degree or certificate in gerontology or aging is not required. Continuing education represents another path towards a job or career in aging. CEUs are provided at our annual meetings (Annual meeting link)
See the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education’s (AGHE) website for further information on what you can expect at each level of training www.aghe.org.