Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
Sunday, December 21, 2014
...Globalizing Education on Aging
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Home > Careers in Aging > How Do I Become a Professional in Aging?



There are three educational avenues to becoming a professional in the field of aging. The first two involve enrolling in a formal credit program at a college or university.

  1. Some students choose aging as a specialty area within one of the traditional disciplines or professions (e.g., anthropology, architecture, biology, political science, psychology, sociology, medicine, nursing, social work, health-related professions).

  2. Others opt for a degree or major in gerontology. For those seeking formal training in aging, there are over 500 colleges and universities that offer more than 1,000 credit programs in aging. Over 1,000 additional schools offer course work and adult or continuing education programs that provide information on aging to older persons and others in the community for personal use and/or upgrading specific skills. Programs are available to meet different individual interests and objectives.

    Instruction in gerontology is available at all educational levels.
  3. Associate level -- Community college programs train people through specific courses in gerontology and skill training experiences. The courses can lead to an A.A. degree or a certificate or emphasis in gerontology. Credits earned in these community college programs can usually be used toward a four-year degree. Students in these education and training programs generally seek entry-level jobs or advancement in their current employment.

    Bachelor's level -- Many colleges and universities offer a major or bachelor's degree in gerontology or a certificate, minor, or specialization in aging to complement a traditional academic major. A field experience usually is required. Graduates are qualified for entry-level or mid-level jobs as practitioners and planners in local and state agencies offering programs and services to older persons.

    Master's level -- Nearly 100 universities offer a master's degree in gerontology. Master's-level training prepares professionals to become skilled administrators, planners, and practitioners. Many universities offer graduate specializations which permit students to major in another academic or clinical field with a specialization in aging.

    Doctoral level -- Some universities offer doctoral level specializations in aging within other academic and clinical departments. A few universities offer a Ph.D. in gerontology. Doctoral programs prepare students for careers in research, teaching, administration, or clinical practice.

    Postdoctoral level -- Postdoctoral training programs or fellowships are available in gerontology and geriatrics. Many of these are funded through federal agencies and can be completed in academic or clinical settings.


  4. For some, continuing education is the logical choice. Non-credit programs may be designed for those preparing for new careers, for people already working who want additional knowledge about aging, or for individuals seeking to enrich their lives.

    Continuing education is offered by colleges and universities, professional and aging associations, hospitals, training firms, and businesses. In some professions, such as social work, counseling, and nursing, continuing education is required to maintain a license or certificate.