Non-Traditional Careers

by Sarah Schoeppe and Jordan James


A non-traditional career is defined as one where more than 75 percent of the workforce is of the opposite gender -- or conversely where fewer than 25 percent of the workforce is of your gender.

careers that are non-traditional careers for men and women

Non-Traditional Careers For Women

Fishers, Hunters, Trappers

Film Directors

Security and Fire System Installers



Non-Traditional Careers For Men

Flight Attendants

  • Hair Stylists
  • Social Workers
  • Speech pathologists
  • Maids and Housekeepers
  • Dennis Niekro

    Dennis Niekro, a student who is making a career change into nursing, is enrolled in a master's entry graduate program for people who have completed a bachelor's degree in a major other than nursing. (His undergraduate degree is in psychology.) He previously worked for 15 years in education, medical research and at a hospice. Now he is pursuing an MSN in the adult nurse practitioner program.

    Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

    Mayer was employee No. 20 at Google and the company's first female engineer. She helped Google develop its search technologies and worked on a long list of other key products including images, maps, books, news, and the toolbar.

    She also sits on the board of directors of Walmart.

    Pros of Non-Traditional Careers

    The biggest pro of working in a non-traditional career is the intrinsic benefit of following your dreams and the satisfaction that comes from the empowerment of a job done well.

    One of the other big pros -- but also potentially one of the biggest cons -- is that people in non-traditional jobs will receive more attention. If you are doing well, that attention is generally good because all workers want to be recognized for their hard work (although the attention could raise jealousy issues among co-workers), but if you are struggling a bit, that attention will simply amplify the problems and add to the pressure to perform.

    Another pro of non-traditional careers is their impact on society. No one gender has a lock on any occupation, and workers who are some of the first of their gender to succeed in a career open the door to others.

    For women, another pro is that the pay is typically much higher in careers where men dominate; thus, you'll have the potential to make more money in a non-traditional career.

    For men, another pro is that you are often given positions of responsibility sooner, because, fairly or not, men are often seen as having natural leadership and other key skills.


    • A con is the potential negative feelings from co-workers, especially for female workers in a traditionally male career. You can be seen as taking the "spot" reserved for a friend, or worse, a token worker hired to avoid lawsuits or appease special-interest groups. And in the worst case scenario, these negative feelings can lead to sexual harassment
    • Amazingly, another con is the potential to have little or no support from family and friends who may question your motives for entering a more challenging career -- or who simply don't understand the pressures and problems you face in a non-traditional career.
    • Finally, in certain traditionally male careers, the physical part of the job can be very demanding, so a final con for women is that some non-traditional careers impose both mental and physical challenges that may be overwhelming.