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Nontraditional Careers

What is a Nontraditional Career?

A job is considered nontraditional if 25 percent or less of the workforce is of one gender. Examples include engineering, which is considered nontraditional for women, because national statistics indicate that of all individuals working as engineers only 14% are women. Another example is nursing, which is considered nontraditional for men, because national statistics indicate that of all individuals working as nurses only 8% are men.

Why Consider a Nontraditional Career?

Most importantly, because people who choose careers based on their interests, skills, and abilities, rather than based on gender stereotypes, experience greater rewards and job satisfaction.

Often nontraditional jobs have greater financial rewards than traditional jobs. Salaries, advancement opportunities and benefits for nontraditional jobs may also be better. In particular, this is often true for careers considered nontraditional for women because jobs traditionally held by men (i.e. construction jobs) pay better than jobs traditionally held by women (i.e. secretarial).

Nontraditional Careers for Women

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Nontraditional occupations for women are those skilled and technical jobs that employ fewer than 25-percent women. Examples of occupations that are considered nontraditional for women include: aviation maintenance, engineering, law enforcement, and welding.

In the past, women's employment has been clustered in only about 40 of the more than 440 different jobs listed with U.S. Department of Labor. Jobs women have traditionally worked in, such as child care and clerical positions, typically offer fewer benefits, lower wages and fewer opportunities for advancement than jobs that are considered nontraditional for women. This explains why in the past, there has been a strong focus specifically on making women aware of, and promoting the choice of, nontraditional careers among women.

There are many nontraditional career choices and opportunities available to women. In today's job market, women have the freedom to consider their own interests, aptitudes, values and needs when selecting a career. In 1995, eight out of ten women between the ages of 20 and 44 (typical childbearing age) were part of the workforce. As most women work, it is important for women to make informed career choices that will provide them with job satisfaction.

Program Choices at Northland College for Women

Nontraditional Careers for Men

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Nontraditional occupations for men are those skilled and technical jobs that employ fewer than 25-percent men. Examples of occupations that are considered nontraditional for men include: administrative support, cosmetology, elementary education, and many health care fields including nursing.

In the past, the focus of promoting nontraditional careers has been on nontraditional careers for women in order to help women gain wage equity and self-sufficiency. However, this focus has changed and the consideration of nontraditional careers by men is being encouraged.

Research shows that individuals who choose career paths based on their abilities and interests experience greater job satisfaction. It is important for men, as well as women, to choose careers that they find rewarding and interesting. Effective career planning means considering all of your options before choosing a career path. Don't limit career options because you think the career is meant for a person of a specific gender. Choose your career based on what fits you!

Program Choices at Northland College for Men

Benefits & Challenges

Nontraditional employment offers many benefits for both women and men. The most important benefit of choosing a nontraditional career is job satisfaction.

Research shows that individuals who choose career paths based on their abilities and interests experience greater job satisfaction. It is important to choose careers that are rewarding and interesting.

However, nontraditional careers may pose challenges. The best way to avoid and/or deal with challenges is to be aware of potential challenges and have a plan of action to deal with them.

Benefits

Choosing a nontraditional career offers a number of benefits.

  • Job Satisfaction. Research shows that individuals who choose careers based on their interests and abilities rather than on gender stereotypes experience greater job satisfaction.
  • Higher Salaries and Better Benefits. Nontraditional careers often offer salaries that are 20 to 30 percent higher than salaries for traditional careers, in particular for women. Nontraditional careers also often offer better health and retirement benefits.
  • Better Advancement Opportunities/Established Career Ladders. Nontraditional careers are often unionized and/or have established career ladders so that employees can work their way up to even higher salaries and better benefits.
  • Variety. There are a wide variety of careers available. Career searches should not be limited! Considering nontraditional careers provides a greater variety of career opportunities.
  • Opportunities to Learn. Work and skills needed for nontraditional employment may be unfamiliar. Nontraditional careers offer the opportunity to learn new information and skills, sometimes while you work.

Visit ISEEK for more information on the benefits and challenges of nontraditional careers.

Challenges

Nontraditional careers may also pose challenges. The best way to avoid and/or deal with the challenges of nontraditional employment include being aware that potential challenges exist and having a plan of action to deal with them.

  • Discrimination and/or harassment. Discrimination and sexual harassment are against the law and employers can be held liable if these acts occur.
  • Sense of isolation if you are the only or one of few of your gender at your workplace. It is true particularly when a job is new, that a sense of isolation or not "fitting in" may exist for employees who do not have coworkers of the same gender at their worksite. However, this sense of isolation often decreases fairly quickly as nontraditional employees become familiar with their coworkers and their coworkers become familiar with them.
  • Work and skills needed might be unfamiliar. Unfortunately, it is common that exposure to the skills needed for nontraditional work is very limited. However, skills can be learned through training and practice.
  • Internal challenges including gender role conflicts, fear of failure and/or lack of self-confidence. What we tell ourselves and what others have told us has a dramatic impact on what we think we can do. Nontraditional employment might be the perfect fit! Is what you are telling yourself talking you out of considering the benefits of nontraditional careers?

A number of myths regarding the challenges of nontraditional careers exist. Visit ISEEK for more information on the myths and realities of nontraditional careers.

Contact Information

For more information on nontraditional careers and support services contact:

East Grand Forks Campus

East Grand Forks Campus
Kate Schmalenberg
Counselor
Phone: (218) 793-2401
Toll Free: 1-800-451-3441
E-mail: Kate Schmalenberg

Thief River Falls Campus

Thief River Falls Campus
Kelsy Blowers
Counselor / New Venture Center Director
Phone: (218) 683-8543
Toll Free: 1-800-959-6282
E-mail: Kelsy Blowers