Americans are living longer than ever before. Medical advancements, new treatment options, and specialized care are helping to extend lives. Census data shows that by 2030, more than 20% of U.S. residents will be aged 65 and over, compared to 13% in 2010.
Looking back, nearly half of all Americans born in 1900 died before they were 50 years old. It is now estimated that by 2050, Americans aged 65 and older will number nearly 89 million, which is more than double the number of people over 65 in 2010. The number of Americans over age 85 was 5.5 million in 2010, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number will be 19 million by 2050.
What does this mean? Gerontology is a useful, increasingly necessary field of study. Eldercare is the fastest growing sector within the healthcare industry, and it is poised to continue growing. There will be job opportunities for medical professionals and others working with older populations as the numbers increase—especially as baby boomers retire. These career opportunities come with the added benefit of making a difference in someone’s life.
Studying gerontology and aging and geriatric research is beneficial for many careers, including but not limited to:
- Assisted living directors
- Elder law attorneys
- Eldercare specialists
- Directors of nursing
- Physical therapists
- Social workers
- Speech therapists
Other job opportunities working in gerontology, as compiled by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, include:
- Working in senior centers, community agencies, or retirement communities
- Counseling elderly people and their families
- Advising older clients about estate planning, investments, and money management
- Conducting research on diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Consulting on issues unique to the elderly such as retirement planning
Anyone looking to change their career path may also be interested in studying aging and geriatric research. The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that 17 of the 30 fastest growing jobs in the United States are in healthcare-related fields. For higher paying job opportunities, a master’s degree is often needed.
The University of Florida’s Department of Aging and Geriatric Research offers an Gerontology online master’s degree and graduate certificate in aging and geriatric research. These programs cover all aspects of gerontology by taking a comprehensive look at aging. Additionally, they are useful for a number of professions. Clinical experience is not required. The convenient online courses are tailored for people who work full time, and the master’s degree can be completed in as little as 2 years. The University of Florida can help students gain credentials and become more qualified in their careers, where they can make an impact working with the aging population.