Gerontology counseling is a relatively new and rapidly growing career path. Gerontology counselors provide support for aging individuals and their families. Clients’ ages usually range from late middle-age through the end-of-life years.
Experts in this industry explore the psychological, somatic, and sociological characteristics of the aging and elderly. They also examine how society changes as a result of increasing life spans, and therefore an increasing elderly population.
Gerontology counselors may work in clinical settings, institutions, nursing homes, senior citizen centers, hospices, or visit clients’ homes.
Those pursuing this career should enjoy working with older adults and possess good listening and communication skills. They should also incorporate knowledge of several areas (biology, health, psychology, sociology, religion) into their work to effectively deal with common issues the elderly face.
Some typical responsibilities of a gerontology counselor:
A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for a position as a gerontology counselor. Those with a doctorate degree should find the most job opportunities.
Because the field of gerontology counseling is somewhat new, specific figures for salary ranges are not yet available. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, counselors in general earned a median annual salary of $41,320 in 2009, while the top 90% earned up to $69,260 a year.
The U.S. Department of Labor expects job prospects for all types of counselors to grow faster than average over the next several years. The demand for gerontology counselors should be especially high with the growing elderly population.