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Employment Opportunities Rise in Gerontology Field

BOONE–Despite the economic downturn, sustained growth in the state’s aging population means promising employment opportunities exist for people with training in gerontology, says Professor Ed Rosenberg.

Rosenberg directs Appalachian State University’s degree and graduate certificate programs in gerontology. Rosenberg earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Southern California.

Statistics indicate that the number of the nation’s elderly will almost double to 70 million by the time today’s college students are in the peak of their careers. Numbers in North Carolina are expected to double as well in the next 20-25 years, to more than 2 million, comprising 21 percent of the state’s population. Eighty-three of the state’s 100 counties will have more than 16 percent of their population over age 65.

Rosenberg says the explosive growth in the state’s and nation’s older population will affect almost every career, directly or indirectly. He says he already is getting calls from corporations who have learned of the certificate program looking for graduates with gerontology training.

In North Carolina, where the aging of the indigenous population is supplemented by an in-migration of year-round retirees or seasonal residents, agencies and local governments will have to deal with this population in two different ways.

The seasonal retirees tend to be healthier, wealthier and better educated, Rosenberg said. Their interests focus on entertainment, cultural and recreational services. “Native elderly are more likely to be strongly networked in their churches and communities, Rosenberg said. However, as both groups further age, their needs become focused on health-care needs.

Rosenberg says the certificate program is especially appealing to those people who may have no formal training in gerontology, but who have been working with older clients in the human services sector for some time. The certificate can broaden their opportunity for job advancement.

Applicants to the 15-hour certificate program must have completed an undergraduate degree. After taking three core courses, students can choose two elective courses in one of five areas of interest: business administration, interpersonal and group dynamics, health care management, home and social environments, or public management.

Students enrolled in a related master’s degree program, such as community counseling, public administration or family and consumer sciences, may find the 15-hour gerontology graduate certificate can enhance their value to prospective employers.

For more information call Rosenberg at (828) 262-6146, or e-mail