Nontraditional Career Benefits and Challenges

Nontraditional careers provide many advantageous aspects that warrant consideration. However, these career avenues come with their share of obstacles. Below is a listing of different perspectives to bear in mind during your career search.

Benefits of a Nontraditional Career

Male nurseSalary

An increased salary is a common reason for individuals to consider a nontraditional career. This is especially true for women, as many trade, engineering and technological jobs (generally employed by men) boast a lucrative paycheck. Nursing is an excellent example of a nontraditional occupation for men that offers great financial compensation.

Broader job/advancement opportunities

Nontraditional careers tend to have well stabilized paths for advancement, and are often unionized. These factors facilitate professional growth opportunities, leading to greater responsibilities and higher salaries.

Job satisfaction

Selecting a career based on personal strengths and genuine interest will lead to greater job satisfaction. Now more than ever before, men and women are excelling and finding happiness in nontraditional careers. If you feel strongly about pursuing a nontraditional occupation, follow your intuition rather than shying away due to existing gender stereotypes.

Economic self-sufficiency

New career opportunities are appealing in part to increase financial success and boost livelihood. Moreover, nontraditional careers often suffer from a shortage of qualified personnel, due to lacking resources from a particular gender. This can lead to enhanced benefits and job security for those who do enter such an occupational field.

Opportunity to learn

A new career presents an excellent chance to expand your knowledge base, and a nontraditional career often stands as a great way to broaden your horizons. If you are the kind of person who enjoys learning something new, and are interested in being paid for it, look no further than a nontraditional career.

Female computer technicianEducation/training/skill

Gaining hands-on training and expertise in a desirable field will make you a more valuable employee. In today's economy, you can never be too marketable, and nontraditional occupations include some of the most specialized and in demand skill sets.

Paving the way for others

Some individuals enjoy pioneering and contributing to diversification that will benefit generations to come. If you feel at home setting a positive example and blazing a path of inspiration for others, a nontraditional career might be a perfect fit.


With the vast assortment of available careers, you owe it to yourself to consider all avenues. What will make you happy? Don't limit your choices while searching for your dream career!

Challenges of a Nontraditional Career

Finding mentors/role models

Research shows that mentors can play a highly pivotal role in the successful pursuit of a nontraditional career. To this end, Penn College's Academic Success staff is here to guide you every step of the way. We will answer all of your questions and ensure you are prepared to begin your new career.

Gaining support from family/friends

It may be difficult for your family and/or friends to understand why you have chosen a nontraditional career. They may have grown up with a strong understanding that specific genders should be responsible for certain types of work, and may feel a need to advocate this perspective. Above all, remember why you chose your career. Remember that this is your future and that not everyone needs to understand or get it. Do what's best for you; follow your heart.

Identifying and Reacing to Discrimination/harassment

Actions of this kind are unacceptable and affect everyone within a given environment. This activity is serious and laws are in place to ensure offenders may be held liable for their behavior.

Obtaining necessary work skills

Female heavy machine operatorDue to minimal prior real world experience, a lack of knowledge and/or skill may be a concern. Remediation can be found in training (Penn College's specialty!) or an honest effort during one's own free time. Look for books, clubs/organizations, informational websites, online forums, or workers you may be able to shadow in a real-world setting. As with all things in life, practice makes perfect, and true passion will lead to success.

Managing the sense of isolation

A feeling of isolation when entering a new job is common, and is made still worse when an individual does not have like-gendered co-workers. This anxiety generally fades quickly, however, as familiarity within a workplace is restored and employees get to know one another. There is no reason why women and men cannot work side-by-side in a professional setting, and evidence to the contrary is a sign that management should be called to action. As previously mentioned, discrimination and harassment should not be tolerated. Of paramount importance is to remain open-minded and express enthusiasm in joining an existing team.

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