How Women Can Break into Nontraditional Careers

How Women Can Break into Nontraditional Careers

The US Department of Labor (DOL) defines nontraditional careers as those in which women comprise less than 25 percent of the workforce -- this includes everything from aerospace engineer to wood machinist. If you like hands-on work, you might want to consider one of these careers.

Why a Nontraditional Career?

High wages and good benefits are two good reasons to look into working in a male-dominated industry. "You get a great sense of accomplishment when you can see the results of your work, which in my case is air-cleaning products," says Dawn Rogers, a senior designer. "I've worked as a drafter, designer, CAD administrator and drafting supervisor, all of which have been enjoyable. I can't imagine any better career for myself.

Where Should Women Pursuing Nontraditional Careers Start?

Preapprentice programs offer short-term training, affording women a good way to sample a job in the trades. Throughout the country, many nonprofit agencies offer training for women interested in nontraditional work. "WomenVenture's five-week preapprentice construction training program provides a safe, nonthreatening environment," says Rita Rodriguez, who manages the organization's Jobs in the Trades program in St. Paul. "Women are more likely to ask questions about tools and clarification of terminology when surrounded by other women."

Many technical colleges offer training for nontraditional careers. Some people bypass technical college and start with an apprenticeship, which offers a chance to earn while you learn.

Examples of Nontraditional Careers for Women

  • Auto Service Technician: If working on cars revs your engine, a career as an auto service technician, AKA mechanic, may be for you. Experienced service technicians can earn between $70,000 and $100,000 a year, according to the DOL. Training programs range from less than a year to two years. "Although women can definitely be successful in the automotive service industry, it is important for them to get a job working around vehicles as soon as possible while going to school," says Chuck Bowen, head of automotive service technology at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis. "A good place to start without experience would be as a lube technician [changing oil]. Many shops will help train for this position. Also, get to know good, positive technicians who are willing to mentor you and give you some of their knowledge."

  • Truck Driver: If you enjoy driving, you might want to get behind the wheel of a big rig. Tractor-trailer driver training programs typically last less than one year and are offered at many private and public technical schools. Many employers require applicants to be at least 25 years old and have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Employers prefer a high school diploma or GED and a good driving record. According to the DOL, the median wage for truck drivers is $31,000 per year, although some drivers get paid by the mile.

  • Plumber: Plumbers provide practical, hands-on solutions to problems by repairing and installing water, waste, drainage and gas systems in all sorts of buildings, from homes to power plants. They also install and service fixtures such as showers, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and water heaters. Good math and science skills are a must. The median wage for plumbers is about $38,000 per year, according to the DOL.

  • Electrician: These professionals install, test and maintain electrical systems. Electrician is considered to be one of the high-paying jobs coming out of the stimulus, and according to the DOL, the median wage for electricians is $19.29 per hour

Challenges and Resources

Men and women often have preconceived notions of what is women's work. Women breaking into a male-dominated industry face many challenges, which may include sexual harassment and isolation. "When I started working as a mechanical drafter, I was the first woman hired in the engineering department at the company I worked for," says Rogers. "The men in the department were generally accepting of me, but there was some animosity directed toward me. To offset that, I decided to work twice as hard and take on any engineering challenge that was given to me."

Networking with other women who work in nontraditional jobs is a good way to receive and offer support. Many metropolitan cities have support groups for women who work in male-dominated industries.

Latest Jobs

PF Chang's China Bistro
Posted: 06/30/2015
Willowbrook, TX
U of L Physicians
Posted: 06/30/2015
Downtown, KY
Posted: 06/30/2015
Lake Grove, NY
Posted: 06/30/2015
San Diego, CA
Wacker Polysilicon North America
Posted: 06/30/2015
Charleston, TN, 37310

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.12.0.54-312