Interdisciplinary Studies: Gerontology

Gerontology uses multiple disciplinary lenses to understand aging across the lifecourse. Students of gerontology study not only the physiological changes that occur with aging, but also the social roles, cultural expectations, individual attitudes and beliefs, policies, and economic circumstances which define the aging experience. Because older adults are everywhere and we are all aging every day, gerontology studies complement a wide range of career paths.

Sample Occupations

  • Activities/Recreation Director
  • Assisted Living Director
  • Apparel Designer
  • Caregiver Support Coordinator
  • Community Health Worker
  • Director of Social Services
  • Entrepreneur
  • Estate and Financial Planner
  • Gerontology Consultant
  • Health Educator
  • Home Health Services Coordinator
  • Law Enforcement
  • Lobbyist
  • Marketing
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Nurse
  • Pre-Retirement Counselor
  • Professor
  • Researcher
  • Senior Employment Consultant
  • Senior Housing Project Manager
  • Social & Community Service Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Therapist
  • Volunteer Coordinator

Types of Employers

  • Health systems such as hospitals, clinics, hospice, the VA, Mental and behavioral health (including direct care and administration)
  • Work and job placements agencies
  • Social services such as family service agencies, DSS, adult protective services
  • Corporations (public and private)
  • For-profit and non-profit industries
  • Research settings such as universities, colleges, government agencies, corporations (program evaluation as well as basic data driven research)
  • Living environments such as 55+, assisted living and nursing communities
  • Parks and Recreation and Senior centers
  • Adult day centers and adult day health centers
  • Federal, state, and local legislative bodies particularly those concerned with transportation, housing, and social welfare
  • Advocacy organizations - local, regional, and national
  • Education systems (particularly community and four-year colleges and universities)
  • Product development and marketing companies
  • Human Resources

Preparing for your career in

  • Develop Your People Skills: Particularly skills that will help you in intergenerational settings. Network with faculty, peers and professionals who are working in the field - there are many local, regional, state, and national organizations that provide opportunities for this networking.
  • Education/Experience: Gerontology professionals should have formal evidence based knowledge of the lifecourse and longevity. This can be obtained with a gerontology minor, concentration, major, graduate certificate, master's or doctoral program. The best programs offer experiential learning through field placements and internships. Be sure to use your community based experiences as an opportunity to network and grow your skill set.
  • Master foundational principles: Students should understand ageism and how it plays out in various settings, negatively impacting not only older adults but all of us. Students should also understand that aging is a lifelong experience and the opportunities and challenges we have early in life will frame our later life. Finally, students should understand that aging happens to all of us from the moment of conception and should not be framed through a lens of loss but through the lens of change and opportunity.
  • Specific Education Avenues: To prepare for a career in gerontology, students have three opportunities at UNC Charlotte: Completing a gerontology minor, a concentration in the Interdisciplinary Studies Major, and a graduate certificate in gerontology (which has an early entry option). Many students complete both the minor and graduate certificate. Students can go on to complete a master’s or doctoral degree in gerontology at another institution, should they so choose.

How do I know if its right for me?

ASSESS: Take a career assessment, such as PathwayU, to see how your interests, values, and personality fit with majors and careers.

RESEARCH: Research the careers on this WCIDWAMI and thousands of other careers using O*Net Online, The Occupational Outlook Handbook or FirstHand.

EXPLORE: Learn more about a career field of interest by job shadowing, attending a career panel, or participating in a Career Trek. Further your exploration while gaining valuable skills by completing an internship, co-op, volunteer, or research experience.