As the baby boomers age, the elderly population grows in size, leading to an increased need for experts in elderly care. Gerontology certificate programs online are designed to meet that need by preparing future professionals to deliver programs and education to the elderly and their caretakers. Once enrolled, students typically take classes in human development, cognition in the elderly, and human services. They may also study organizational leadership and ethics. Upon graduating, they can go on to work in health and human service careers targeted toward providing assistance to the elderly population.
Types of Gerontology Certificates
At the vocational level, gerontology certification provides foundational information about the field. Students will learn about the basics of aging and human development, as well as the illnesses and diseases from which people can suffer as they age. Students will also study ways to assess the cognitive and physical capabilities of the elderly. Some specific classes students may take will include communicating with the elderly, current issues in aging, biological theories of aging, and health policy. To gain admission into a vocational certificate program, students typically must have the following:
- High school diploma or equivalent.
By the time students earn the certificate, they should have a solid understanding of the issues faced by aging populations and ways to counter those issues. They should also become sensitive to different cultures. In total, the program should take around six months to complete, but students who attend on a part-time basis may be enrolled for longer.
The pre-masters certificate in gerontology is structured to build off of the knowledge acquired during undergraduate programs in health science. Students will narrow their focus on the elderly and take classes such as the social aspects of aging, psychology of aging, biology of aging, and current issues faced by the elderly. Students may also study organizational leadership and communication, which will make them viable candidates for supervisory positions or master’s degree programs. To gain admission to a pre-master’s program, students are usually required to produce the following:
- Bachelor’s degree in a health field.
- GPA of at least 2.0.
- Work experience in a health field.
As part of the program, students will examine case studies and conduct research. They may be required to use statistics and write papers over data. When pursued online, all course work can be completed over the Internet and submitted through a web portal. In total, students typically spend between six months and a year on earning their pre-master’s certificate.
Students who have studied nursing or a closely related field and have earned their master’s degree may want to consider a post-master’s certificate in the field of gerontology. Earning a certificate in geriatric nursing can help students acquire advancements within their careers. They can also prepare students to study gerontology at the doctorate level. Before taking classes, however, students must have the following:
- Master’s degree in nursing or a closely related field.
- GPA of at least 2.0.
- Recommendation letters.
- Work experience in the nursing field.
While enrolled, students will take classes like assessment of the elderly, nursing interventions, research and evaluation, primary care, and mental health problems in the elderly. They will also participate in research projects and, in some programs, fulfill internship requirements. In total, the post-master’s certificate will take around a year to complete, depending on how many classes students take each term.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Students who earn a vocational certificate in gerontology may consider becoming social and human service assistants who help the elderly receive care. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals earn around $30,880 annually. Those who earn higher certificates can become health care administrators or health service managers, a field that can bring in as much as $98,460 annually, according to the BLS. Students with post-masters certificates in geriatric nursing can also become nurses, as long as they earn a license in the field.
Those who hope to earn higher education may consider a doctoral degree in the gerontology field. Doctorates can help students establish careers in academia. They can also lead to advancements, raises, and research opportunities.