Non-Traditional Careers for Men Learn the Benefits & Challenges of Thinking Outside the Box

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October 21, 2021

Devon works as a Certified Anesthesia Technician and is currently enrolled in a Surgical Technology Program that his employer is paying for. He intends to return to school after graduation to obtain his First Assistant Certification and someday wants to open his own assisting business with a coworker.

Non-traditional careers for men are those which are, traditionally, performed by women. Women have historically been perceived as more nurturing than men, and as a result female-dominated careers often require a significant amount of empathy (for example, fields such as teaching and nursing). Luckily these stereotypes don’t reflect the reality that men are also entirely capable of enjoying and succeeding in non-traditional careers. Continue reading to learn more about what careers are female dominated and why men should consider joining these growing fields.

What are Non-Traditional Careers for Men?

The United States Department of Labor officially defines a non-traditional career as one in which the opposite gender holds 75% or more of the positions in that occupation. In this case, that means jobs with 25% or less male employees. Here are some traditionally female-dominated careers that are expected to grow through 2026.

Dental Assistant

Elementary School Teacher

Event Planner

Hairdresser & Cosmetologist

Librarian

Medical Assistant

Paralegals & Legal Assistant

Registered Nurse

Social Worker

Special Education Teacher

Veterinary Assistant

Why Men Should Consider Non-Traditional Careers

Non-traditional careers can come with a wide range of benefits for men who decide to enter them. Not only are these so-called pink-collar jobs often parts of growing industries, but they also allow men to use a set of skills often ignored in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Challenges You Might Face

Despite the many benefits and advantages that can come with working in non-traditional careers, men may face some hurdles to entering and excelling in these fields. Here are some of the main challenges that men may face in non-traditional careers.

A wide range of non-traditional careers exist beyond the examples given here, and men have entered and thrived in all of them. Devon is a man who has found success in a non-traditional career and enjoys working alongside women coworkers.

Devon Van Aken, Certified Anesthesia Technician
Devon works as a Certified Anesthesia Technician and is currently enrolled in a Surgical Technology Program that his employer is paying for. He intends to return to school after graduation to obtain his First Assistant Certification and someday wants to open his own assisting business with a coworker.
What inspired you to enter a non-traditional career? I first started working in the medical field in a non-clinical role. Just being in the medical environment inspired me to advance and change roles, which is something I’m still actively doing. I am interested in helping other people get well and find the medical field fascinating.
What did you do before you entered a non-traditional career? I worked in the food service industry. For me personally, I had no interest there and no room for advancement. The food industry felt like just a job to pay bills, whereas now I have a purpose and a career that shows my personal growth.
What is the gender ratio like at your job? The majority of the other technicians and nurses I work with, especially during surgeries, are women.
What challenges have you experienced as a result of working in a female-dominant career? I haven’t experienced any challenges in the field working predominantly with women. To me it makes no difference as long as my coworkers are well-trained and knowledgeable of the medical field. All of my challenges have mostly been from learning as much about the medical field as possible.
What do you find satisfying about being in a non-traditional career? Helping other people is the reason I do what I do full time. I will continue working in the medical field until retirement.
José Valenzuela García, Dog Groomer
Initially an aspiring veterinary technician, José switched gears to another animal-oriented career: dog grooming. He has been in the field for over three years and has no plans of leaving it.
What inspired you to enter a non-traditional career? The honest answer is, I was in need of a job, and one of my teachers told me to apply for [dog grooming]. I had no idea what I was applying for, I just wanted something to do with dogs.
What did you do before you entered a non-traditional career (if you haven’t always worked in this industry)? I was a teacher’s assistant and assistant for [an] after school program.
What is the gender ratio like at your job? I’m the only guy in the grooming salon. My 13 coworkers are all women.
What challenges have you experienced as a result of working in a female-dominate career? Some dogs are timid when it comes to men. Those dogs never really warm up to me. I get asked to do a lot of the heavy-lifting because I’m a guy. I have to hold and lift a lot of the bigger dogs for my coworkers because they assume I’m stronger. They book me more big dogs, too.
What do your family and friends think of your career choice? I’ve never been put-down by [my friends]. My family finds my job different and interesting, in a good way.
What do you find satisfying about being in a non-traditional career? Honestly, there’s nothing really satisfying about being ‘the only guy.’ In fact, more men should be working in this field. It can get time consuming helping [my coworkers] lift all the heavy dogs, or holding down the really rambunctious ones.
Zachary Jones, Telecommunications Supervisor
Zachary comes from an extensive background of customer service and takes that into every job he works at. His currently is a supervisor at a company that captions phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing. He has plans to continue his career with the company and hopes to become a systems administrator in the future.
What inspired you to enter a non-traditional career? At first it was rather silly: my only goal was to [advance enough for] permanent desk at my workplace. I soon, however, found a world that made me feel welcome. I have always gotten along much better with women in general so working with women as not only my supervisors but also as my co-workers I thought would be a perfect place for me to be myself and to not have to work in the bounds of a male run workplace. I have worked at several before and with one exception, they are quite hostile environments for my mental health.
What did you do before you entered a non-traditional career (if you haven’t always worked in this industry)? Most of [my past employment] was food service but I have maintenance experience as well as retail service. My current job allows me to work within a system where I am only held accountable to my coworkers and higher ups rather than the customers that we serve. It generally makes for a better work environment and much less stressful.
What is the gender ratio like at your job? As a supervisor, I work with about 30 or more women versus 10 other men either at my level or above. The team I supervise is about 12 women to 7 men.
What challenges have you experienced as a result of working in a female-dominate career? One of the biggest challenges have been with handling the problems women are remiss to share with men. Most times I would just like to help but they specifically ask for a woman supervisor rather than myself. It can be difficult, but some women are just not comfortable bringing these problems to a man. I get a woman supervisor for them of course, but I wish they were comfortable talking to me.
What do your family and friends think of your career choice? They are very proud of my choice. They enjoy hearing my work stories and they are really proud of what I do in general.
What do you find satisfying about being in a non-traditional career? I love the ability to be myself at my job. Even though I am a supervisor [and] more is expected of me than most, that does not change the fact that we are all people [who] are allowed to flourish at my job. I may be required to dress fancier, but that does not mean I am any less approachable or friendly. I strive to have plenty of interaction and learn who the people I work with are. I want them to feel comfortable with who they are and unleash their full potential.

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