Portland Community College Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Gerontology Program

End of Life Career Pathway Certificate

This certificate is designed to advance the knowledge and develop the skills of caregivers, aging services professionals and family members in supporting persons approaching the end of life.

The need

  • The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that there will be 77 million older persons (65+) by the year 2034, which is almost twice as many as the population of older adults in 2007.
  • One of the implications of the rise in the number of older adults is that:
    • There will be an increase in the number of persons to care for at the end of life
    • This creates a demand for trained professionals and family members to provide end of life care.
  • The demand for trained professionals and family members to provide supportive end of life care has also been increasing with the advent of the hospice movement, trends toward dying at home, and trends toward patient and family member involvement in the end of life process.
  • End of Life education makes it possible to understand how to best support people dying at home and to enhance skills to provide quality end of life care at hospitals and care facilities, as well as at home.
  • Dying persons, family members and professionals can be involved in the end of life process by taking part in providing comfort care, specifying treatment wishes through advance planning, creating legacies for loved ones, organizing affairs, creating rituals, revisiting relationships, completing “final wishes,” planning celebrations of life, and attending to legal issues.
  • Taking part in this process can bring a sense of control to the dying person and family members, and helps to make the dying process as comfortable as possible. In order to properly support dying persons, education in the end of life process is needed for both family and professionals.

Why choose the End of Life Career Pathway Certificate at PCC?

  • Easy Access/Open start and exit program
  • Online (Asynchronous) format, with some optional in-person, live-streamed, and video-recorded class meetings
  • Applied, interactive learning format
  • Faculty expertise both inside the classroom and within the community


The program is fully online (with faculty based at PCC Sylvania Campus).


  • Healthcare Aids: $16.54 average hourly wage or $34,421 average annual wage
  • Bereavement/Mental Health Counselors: $29.06 average hourly wage or $60,435 average annual wage
  • Social Workers: $34.64 average hourly wage or $72,067 average annual wage
  • Funeral Directors: $41.66 average hourly wage or $86,657 average annual wage
  • Medical and Health Service Managers (Hospice Administrator): $58.19 average hourly wage or $121,027 average annual wage

What will you learn?

The courses in the End of Life Care and Support Certificate train students to:

  • Guide family members and dying persons through the end of life process, including social, psychological, medical, financial, legal, and spiritual issues related to care and support.
  • Assess and document the care and support needs and assets of the dying person, their family and social support network; communicate and collaborate with all related parties; and facilitate access to appropriate resources, while working with other professionals and with diverse stakeholders in a coordinated care and support plan, in hospice, long term care, and home environments.
  • Apply best practices of person-centered and directed care and support, and adhere to professional and ethical standards in supporting the dying person and working effectively with all stakeholders, including legal, medical, financial, insurance, relevant government programs, and other professionals, as well as family and the dying person’s social support network.
Award Duration Fully online Limited entry
End of Life Care and Support Less than one year career pathway certificate Yes No

What will you do?

EOL certificate graduates qualify for professions and roles relating to the end of life either in entry-level positions, or in more advanced positions, depending on their prior professional training and experience, and/or academic degrees:

  • Chaplains and Spiritual Counselors
  • Funeral Directors
  • Insurance agents specializing in Life and Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Financial Advisors
  • Guardians and Conservators
  • Paralegals and lawyers providing elder law services
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Healthcare Aides
  • Resident Assistants in care facilities
  • Personal Home Care Assistants
  • Social Workers
  • Bereavement Counselors
  • Therapists working with massage, touch, art, music, pet, horticultural, environmental and other modalities
  • Hospice Volunteer Coordinators
  • Hospice Administrators
  • End of Life Instructors
  • End of Life Researchers
  • Death Doula (or Midwife)

Next steps

Gerontology program flag