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

Additional Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online