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Quick Facts on Nontraditional Occupations for Women

  • A nontraditional occupation for women is one in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employment.

  • Nontraditional occupations span all major occupational groups and provide many employment options for women.
  • First, growth in the economy is projected to expand employment in many of these occupations and secondly, there will be strong demand for workers in these fields due to projected retirements or transfers of current workers to other occupations.

  • Nontraditional jobs are attractive to women because they generally offer higher entry-level wages and a career ladder with pay between $20 and $30 per hour.

  • Here are some examples of nontraditional jobs for women: architects, computer programmers, computer software and hardware engineers, detectives, chefs, barbers, clergy, engineers, computer and office machine repairers, construction and building inspectors, railroad conductors, machinists, truck drivers, fire fighters, aircraft pilots, and construction occupations.

  • Women continue to make inroads into nontraditional occupations. As more women enter jobs that were once dominated by men, many jobs that were nontraditional for women in the 1988 were no longer nontraditional for women in 2008. Some of these occupations were purchasing managers; chemists; physicians; lawyers; athletes; postal service mail carriers; bailiffs, correctional officers, and jailers; and butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers.

Nontraditional Occupations1 For Women in 2008
(Numbers in thousands)
     
Employed
Employed
Percent
Occupation
Both Sexes
Female
Female
       
Architects, except naval 233              58              24.8             
Farmers and ranchers 751              183              24.4             
Network systems and data communications analysts 422              100              23.7             
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers 867              205              23.6             
Farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers 217              52              23.9             
Drafters 162              38              23.4             
Chief executive 1,655              387              23.4             
Dishwashers 289              66              22.7             
Computer programmers 534              119              22.4             
Supervisors, protective service workers, all other 102              22              21.7             
Network and computer systems administrators 227              49              21.4             
Metal workers and plastic worker, all other 349              74              21.1             
Computer software engineers 1,034              216              20.9             
Barbers 87              18              20.8             
Supervisors, transportation and material moving workers 208              43              20.5             
Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators,
    and tenders, metal and plastic 105              21              20.2             
Printing machine operators 213              42              19.8             
Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool
    setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 50              10              19.7             
Upholsterers 56              11              19.7             
Computer hardware engineers 69              13              19.4             
Miscellaneous agricultural workers 723              140              19.3             
Detectives and criminal investigators 139              27              19.2             
Engineering technicians, except drafters 416              77              18.5             
First-line supervisors/managers of production and
    operating workers 874              158              18.1             
Molders and molding machine setters, operators, and tenders,
    metal and plastic 58              10              18.1             
Motor vehicle operators, all others 66              12              18             
Couriers and messengers 261              45              17.4             
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges 72              13              17.3             
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 1,889              324              17.1             
Chefs and head cooks 351              60              17             
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers 239              41              17             
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio
    operators 98              16              16.1             
Precision instrument and equipment repairers 58              9              15.4             
Chemical processing machine setters, operators, and tenders 52              8              15.4             
Chiropractors 60              9              15.3             
Industrial engineers, including health and safety 177              26              14.9             
Upholsterers 53              8              14.9             
Clergy 441              65              14.8             
Service station attendants 87              13              14.8             
First-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives 117              17              14.7             
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers 674              99              14.7             
Industrial production managers 243              35              14.5             
Refuse and recyclable material collectors 98              14              14             
Painting workers 183              25              13.6             
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 373              49              13.3             
Crushing, grinding, polishing, mixing, and
    blending workers 108              14              13.3             
Chemical engineers 64              8              13.1             
Parking lot attendants 83              10              12.6             
Engineers, all others 363              42              11.5             
Radio and telecommunications equipment and
    installers repairers 200              23              11.4             
Transportation inspectors 51              6              11.3             
Parts salespersons 119              13              10.8             
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers 335              35              10.5             
Civil engineers 346              36              10.4             
Aerospace engineers 137              14              10.3             
Cost estimators 100              10              10             
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment 317              30              9.5             
Construction and building inspectors 93              9              9.5             
Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers 55              5              9.2             
Industrial truck and tractor operators 568              51              8.9             
Computer control programmers and operators 68              6              8.7             
First-line supervisors/managers of fire fighting
    and preventing workers 54              5              8.7             
Water and liquid waste treatment plant and system
    operators 71              6              8.6             
Construction managers 1,244              102              8.2             
Pest control workers 71              6              8.2             
First-line supervisors/managers of mechanics,
    installers, and repairers 300              24              8             
Electrical and electronics engineers 350              27              7.7             
First-line supervisors/managers of landscaping,
    lawn service, and grounds keeping workers 258              19              7.5             
Other installation, maintenance, and repair workers 213              16              7.5             
Machinists 409              28              6.9             
Mechanical engineers 318              21              6.7             
Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters 85              6              6.5             
Engineering managers 109              7              6.3             
Painters, construction and maintenance 647              41              6.3             
Grounds maintenance workers 1,262              77              6.1             
Motor vehicle operators, all others 74              4              5.5             
Home appliance repairers 51              3              5.3             
Surveying and mapping technicians 105              5              4.9             
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 3,388              167              4.9             
Fire fighters 293              14              4.8             
Sheet metal workers 136              7              4.8             
Railroad conductors and yardmasters 53              2              4.7             
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers 598              28              4.7             
Helpers, construction trades 113              5              4.1             
Crane and tower operators 69              3              3.7             
Maintenance and repair workers, general 461              16              3.5             
Telecommunications line installers and repairers 204              7              3.3             
Construction laborers 1,651              51              3.1             
Locomotive engineers and operators 58              2              2.8             
Other extraction workers 55              2              2.8             
First-line supervisors/managers of construction
    trades and extraction workers 844              23              2.7             
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers 141              4              2.6             
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics 439              11              2.6             
Carpet, floor, and tile installer and finishers 224              5              2.3             
Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers 112              2              2.2             
Mining machine operators 51              1              2.2             
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers 209              4              2.1             
Automotive body and related repairers 157              3              2.1             
Small engine mechanics 64              2              2             
Heating, air conditioning, refrigeration mechanics
    and installers 397              8              2             
Miscellaneous vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics,
installers, and repairers 86              2              1.9             
Insulation Workers 874              9              1.9             
Highway maintenance workers 103              2              1.9             
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians 153              3              1.7             
Stationary engineers and boiler operators 101              2              1.7             
Automotive service technicians and mechanics 852              14              1.6             
Electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers 75              1              1.6             
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators
    Carpenters 1,562              24              1.5             
Operating engineers and other construction equipment
    operators 398              6              1.5             
Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 606              8              1.4             
Electrical power-line installers and repairers 109              2              1.4             
Roofers 234              3              1.3             
Dredge, excavating, and loading machine operators 60              1              1.2             
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians
    and mechanics 217              2              1.1             
Tool and die makers 71              1              1             
Electricians 874              9              1             
Logging workers 73              1              1             
Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists 358              3              0.9             
Millwrights 60              1              0.9             
Structural iron and steel workers 77              1              0.9             
Maintenance workers, machinery 55              0.4              0.7             
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons 230              1              0.4             

Data not shown where base (total employed, both sexes) is less than 50,000.

1Nontraditional occupations are those in which women comprise 25 percent or less of total employed.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Annual Averages 2008.

Women’s Bureau
April 2009