Have You Considered a Gerontology Bachelors Degree Online?

The elderly population in America is expected to reach 72 million in the next few decades - nearly double what it is now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[i] With the increase in the aging population also comes a need for professionals who can assist them with a variety of tasks, including those related to health and finances. Earning a bachelors in gerontology online - a field of study that focuses on old age and the difficulties associated with it - may prepare you to better serve the elderly community in a professional setting.

What is a gerontology bachelors degree online?
While people may be living longer, there are still plenty of health challenges they may have to face in their old age. Bodies will generally begin to grow weaker over time, and the elderly could face such challenges as a weakened immune system and fragile bones, making them more susceptible to injury and disease.

Bachelors in Gerontology Online

Aging is a risk factor associated with Alzheimer's disease and other related conditions, with people's chances of developing Alzheimer's doubling every five years after 65, according to the CDC.[ii] Apart from these major health issues, people's vision and hearing may also deteriorate. Each of these factors can inhibit a senior's mobility as well as his or her ability to perform once-easy tasks, such as home repair and maintenance, tax paperwork, cooking and grocery shopping.

Gerontology examines the process of aging, its challenges and ways in which professionals can help seniors overcome or compensate for those limitations. It differs from geriatrics, which is oriented toward medicine, and instead generally focuses on more social solutions. A bachelors in gerontology online aims to introduce students to this field, and a standard curriculum may incorporate sociology, psychology, public policy, health policy and counseling coursework.

Putting your degree in gerontology to use
Work in gerontology is usually associated with social services. Commonly related occupations include social worker, social and human service assistant, physical or recreational therapist and rehabilitation counselor. Some of those positions require a master's degree in a related field, including physical therapist and counselor, for which a bachelor's degree in gerontology may serve as a solid foundation. While social workers generally hold a bachelor's degree in social work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that related degrees may be acceptable to some employers.[iii]  Earning a bachelors in gerontology online could may help you develop the skill set required for such positions.

While these careers have some of the most direct relationships to gerontology, they are by no means the only way that this degree may be applied. Organizations geared toward the creation or lobbying of public policy may have need of people with insight into the plight of the elderly. Businesses that already or hope to market to older generations could make use of gerontology graduates. The options for putting your bachelors in gerontology online degree to use can be rather broad.

Potential salaries for gerontology jobs
The average wage and job outlook for someone who has majored in gerontology may vary widely depending on the kind of work one chooses to pursue. The BLS provides further insight into the annual median wages and job outlook for a number of related positions:

  • Social worker: $44,200[iv] (19 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[iv]
  • Social and human service assistants: $28,850[v] (22 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[v]
  • Public relations specialist: $54,170[vi] (12 percent employment growth projected through 2022)[vi]

Skills required in gerontology
Working with elderly people can be highly rewarding, but it can also be challenging if you're assisting them with daily tasks, such as feeding and bathing. Related positions require patience, compassion and a good understanding of seniors' needs and how to assist them. Careers that focus on marketing, advertising or policymaking may not have those challenges, but would require similar insight.

[i] cdc.gov/features/agingandhealth/
[ii] cdc.gov/features/alzheimers/
[iii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm
[iv] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-1
[v] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm
[vi] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm