Non-Traditional Careers for Women

woman in non-traditional career
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The U.S. Department of Labor defines a non-traditional career for women as one in which 25% or less of those employed in the field are women (Nontraditional Occupations for Women. U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau). It is hard to believe that, in the 21st century, the Department of Labor lists over 100 occupations that fall into this category, among them police officer and architect. It has been over a century since Los Angeles appointed its first female police officer. More than 130 years ago, Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first female professional architect, set up practice in Buffalo, New York (Companion to Women in the Workplace by Dorothy Schneider and Carl F.

Schneider, ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1993).

Some Facts About Non-Traditional Careers for Women

  • According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, in 2017 the median weekly earnings of women who worked full-time were only 82% of men's full-time median weekly earnings (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2017," BLS Reports.)
  • Women are underrepresented in occupations across many occupational groups including those in the construction trades and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.
  • Non-traditional occupations offer a woman higher entry-level wages and higher pay as she advances in her career.

    18 Non-Traditional Careers for Women

    When choosing an occupation, a woman should consider all the options available to her. There aren't any occupations that a woman is incapable of doing based on her gender alone. As is the case for any individual, female or male, one will have to meet the educational requirements and other qualifications of the career he or she is considering.

    According to the Department of Labor, here are some of the occupations that are considered non-traditional for women (Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, Non-Traditional Occupations.):

    Detectives or special agents collect facts and gather evidence about suspected crimes.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma or Bachelor's Degree (Varies by Police Department)

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $79,970

    Number of People Employed (2016): 110,900

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 5 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 5,000

    Architects design buildings, making sure they are functional, safe, and meet the needs of those who are going to use them.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Bachelor of Architecture (5 years)

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $78,470

    Number of People Employed (2016): 128,800

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 4 percent (slower than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 5,500

    Chefs prepare food, supervise culinary workers, and run the kitchen in restaurants and other dining establishments.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Work Experience or a Vocational, Associate, or Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $45,950

    Number of People Employed (2016): 146,500

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 14,100

    Barbers cut and style men's hair.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Completion of a State-Approved Cosmetology Program

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $25,650

    Number of People Employed (2016): 56,400

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 13 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 7,600

    Clergy members are the religious leaders of houses of worship. Some work in schools, the armed forces, and prisons. They lead services and provide spiritual guidance.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Bachelor's Degree

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $47,100

    Number of People Employed (2016): 243,900

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 8 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 19,900

    Computer programmers write code for software applications and operating systems.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Bachelor's Degree

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $82,240

    Number of People Employed (2016): 294,900

    Projected Job Decline (2016-2026): 7 percent

    Projected Decrease in Jobs (2016-2026): 21,300

    Engineers use their expertise in math and science to solve technical problems. Engineering technicians support engineers and scientists.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Bachelor's Degree in Engineering (Engineer) / Associate Degree in Engineering Technology (Engineering Technician)

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $79,180*

    Number of People Employed (2016): 2,776,000*

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 7 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)*

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 194,300*

    *Includes all engineering and architecture occupations

    Construction and building inspectors make sure construction meets local building codes and zoning regulations.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $59,090

    Number of People Employed (2016): 105,100

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 10,500

    Railroad conductors coordinate the activities of freight and passenger train crews.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $60,300

    Number of People Employed (2016): 41,800

    Projected Job Change (2016-2026): -2 percent

    Projected Decrease in Jobs (2016-2026): 900

    Machinists use machine tools to produce precision metal parts such as titanium bone screws that are used in orthopedic implants, bolts of steel, hydraulic parts, and antilock breaks.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $42,600

    Number of People Employed (2016): 396,200

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 2 percent (slower than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 7,900

    Truck drivers transport goods between locations.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma and Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $42,480

    Number of People Employed (2016): 1,871,700

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 6 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 108,400

    Firefighters control fires, rescue trapped survivors, and sometimes provide emergency medical treatment.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $49,080

    Number of People Employed (2016): 327,300

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 7 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 23,500

    Pilots transport people and cargo on aircraft, including airplanes and helicopters.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Bachelor's Degree and Commercial Pilot's License

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $137,330

    Number of People Employed (2016): 84,000

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 3 percent (slower than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 2,900

    Carpenters build and install wood, fiberglass, and drywall structures.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Apprenticeship

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $45,170

    Number of People Employed (2016): 1,025,600

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 8 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 83,800

    Electricians install and maintain electrical wiring and other components in commercial and residential buildings.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Apprenticeship

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $54,110

    Number of People Employed (2016): 666,900

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 9 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 59,600

    Masons build structures out of bricks, stones, and concrete blocks.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Apprenticeship

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $42,900

    Number of People Employed (2016): 292,500

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 12 percent (faster than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 34,200

    HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: Vocational Degree

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $47,080

    Number of People Employed (2016): 332,900

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 15 percent (much faster than the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 48,800

    Small engine mechanics maintain, inspect, and fix motorized equipment.

    Minimum Educational Requirements: H.S. Diploma and On-the-Job Training

    Median Annual Salary (2017): $35,990

    Number of People Employed (2016): 79,300

    Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 5 percent (as fast as the average for all occupations)

    Projected Increase in Jobs (2016-2026): 3,800