Gerontology is the study of aging and older adults. Counselors who specialize in gerontology respond to the needs of the growing group of older adults. These counselors are experts in aging issues. They assist the elderly with a number of problems, from mental health issues to the death of a loved one. Geriatric counselors also work closely with different types of people, including older adults as well as their family members. Common job titles include rehabilitation counselor or mental health counselor. Job settings typically include private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation clinics.
Steps Toward an MS in Gerontology (MS)
To become a geriatric counselor, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
- Earn proper undergraduate degree (requirements vary by state). Common undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Science programs in education, psychology or human services.
- Earn proper graduate degrees (requirements vary by state) from an accredited institution like Capella, Kaplan, Liberty, or Walden University. Typically includes completing a Master of Counseling degree with a concentration in gerontology.
- Obtain proper licensure. Licensure requirements differ greatly by state, occupational specialty, and work setting.
- Consider certification and continuing education options. Some geriatric counselors elect to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which grants a general practice credential of National Certified Counselor. Geriatric counselors can also obtain additional certification from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM).
Professionals in the field should also consider membership with the Gerontological Society of America. They offer membership at regular, student, transitional student, undergraduate, and spouse levels. Benefits include subscriptions to various publications, reduced rates to conferences, networking opportunities, access to various resources, and discounts to gerontology-specific publishing companies.
My Degree and What It’s Good For
Once you’ve earned your degree and the proper certification, you’ll qualify to work as a geriatric counselor. This role typically requires an individual to perform the following duties:
- Assesses, plans, coordinates, monitors, and provides services for the elderly and their families.
- Provides guidance about applying for federal, state, and other benefits.
- Offers counseling services to seniors and caregivers with issues related to the aging process.
Annual salary varies within the profession based on specific type of job, location, and experience. For more on your earning potential as a geriatric counselor, please visit our salary outlook for counselors page.
Online Masters in Gerontology Degree Programs
- Concordia University – Nebraska: MSN in Adult Gerontology Acute Care
- Maryville University: MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Northcentral University: PhD in Gerontology
- University of Southern California: MA in Gerontology
- University of the Rockies: MA in Human Development – Gerontology
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in gerontology, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: