Historically, certain types of employment have been divided into those which are designed for men, and roles which are more female-oriented; women have been perceived traditionally to be more naturally nurturing and caring – but of course, we know this simply isn’t true. While men would be encouraged to apply for jobs in construction and business, women were expected to work in industries where caregiving and empathy were the main requirements – so, nursing, teaching, and social work were seen as where their career paths should be.
Although we’ve moved on from specified roles, and we now recognize that gender has nothing to do with a persons ability to do a job, some industries are still female-dominated – the US Department of Labor states that a ‘non-traditional career’ is one in which the opposite gender holds at least 75% of the roles in that field. Working in a non-traditional industry can be incredibly rewarding; you often stand out from other applicants, have the opportunity to earn a better wage and can find yourself in a brilliantly diverse workplace.
We’ve rounded up some of the top occupations that are still incredibly underrepresented by men – so why not consider a career move into something different?
The main role of a dental assistant is to provide support to the dentist during routine check-ups and any procedures the patient might need, such as fillings, crowns, and extractions. To work in this role, you’ll need to first and foremost be a people person; the dental assistant is often the first person people see when they arrive, and it’s always nice to see a reassuring face. You’ll need to be a good listener, and be able to help patients feel comfortable at all times – you’ll also be required to give out any after-care and hygiene instructions, so being a good communicator is really important. You’ll also be expected to record any notes and keep track of patients medical history, so organizational skills are a key part of this role.
The qualifications you’ll need to work as a dental assistant vary from state to state; in some places, you might not be required to complete any formal training, while in others you’ll have to have completed a dental assistant program, followed by a state licensing exam.
Elementary School Teacher
Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career, but working in an elementary school takes it to a whole new level; you’ll be spending your days shaping young minds and providing an education for children aged between six and thirteen years – what better way to have a great impact on the world? As well as teaching the students academic subjects such as Maths, English and Science, you’ll also be encouraging them with their social skills and establishing good behavioral patterns.
To work as an elementary school teacher, you’ll need plenty of empathy and patience, especially if you’re working with the younger grades; the first day of school can be incredibly daunting, so you’ll need to be able to reassure the children and make them feel safe and comfortable. You’ll also need to be a great listener and communicator for a variety of reasons; you’ll be the first point of contact for any problems that might arise with your students, and you’ll also be expected to discuss their progress with parents at parent-teacher conferences.
To work as a teacher, you’ll need a minimum of a Bachelors degree in teaching or a relevant subject, and you’ll also have to become state licensed by taking a series of exams. You can also boost your CV by taking on periods of work experience while you study; working as a teachers aide is a great way to discover what life in the classroom is really like.
One of the most rewarding professions, the nursing industry has great opportunities for career advancement and excellent salary prospects; there are many different roles, and you can choose to specialize in different fields, such as pediatrics or mental health, but the skillset you’ll require will be much the same regardless. As well as the medical side of things, where you’ll be expected to communicate with doctors, administer medication and manage intravenous lines, you’ll have to provide emotional and mental support to both patients and their families during difficult times – so empathy and listening skills are paramount. You’ll also need to be brilliantly organized and efficient with your time; nurses are busy people, and are expected to not only provide physical and emotional care, but also to undertake various administrative and record-keeping tasks. While it’s one of the most challenging jobs, it’s also one of the most satisfying; you’ll be easing peoples distress and discomfort every day, and you’ll often be able to witness the positive results of your care.
Educationally, the road to becoming a nurse can be lengthy and difficult; you’ll need to start with with a Bachelors of science degree in nursing, an associate degree in nursing or a professional diploma from an approved program of study – and then you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Exam to be able to practice. Once you’ve qualified as an RN (registered nurse), you can move onto other areas of study; neonatal nursing education, for example, will develop your skillset and allow you to care for infants during the first two years of their life.
An occupational therapist is someone who works with individuals who have problems carrying out simple day-to-day tasks for a variety of reasons; they might have mental health problems, they could have suffered a life-changing injury, might be undergoing treatment for a serious illness or they may have a long-term debilitating condition. You could find yourself working in a variety of settings, from doctors offices and hospitals, to specialized clinics, social services departments and even charities, so it’s a pretty varied and rewarding role. You’ll need to be a great communicator, as the main part of your job is to show people how to improve their day-to-day life through instructions and actions; you’ll be expected to show people how to use specialized equipment and help them make any necessary adaptations to their home, advise them on alternative ways to approach daily tasks and assist them in setting goals for the future. You’ll also have to be great at record keeping and administrative tasks, as a large part of the job is writing up notes and keeping long-term records.
To get started as an occupational therapist, you’re going to need to get a good educational background; this could be a Bachelors degree in occupational therapy, or it could be in something more broad, such as biology, psychology or health science. Once you’ve completed the first stage, you’re going to need to study for a Masters degree in occupational therapy, and then pass the NBCOT examination for licensure – this is what allows you to finally begin practicing as an occupational therapist.
Speech Language Pathologist
Speech language pathologists work specifically to treat patients who have difficulties communicating for a variety of reasons, and they work to help them assess, diagnose and treat any problems which are affecting their speech. They work with a variety of patients; people with speech disorders, such as stutters, anyone who finds understanding language difficult, and people with swallowing and feeding disorder such as dysphagia, often following a stroke or illness. In addition, they also help treat people who have cognitive communication difficulties – such as problem solving and thought organization – following a stroke or illness, and anyone who has social communication problems or traumatic brain injuries. Occasionally, they also see people who are deaf, or want to modify their accents so they can be better understood. To work as a speech language pathologist, you obviously need to be an excellent communicator, and have a great deal of patience and empathy; treating people with speech problems is a lengthy process, and can often be frustrating for them, so you need to be able to make them feel comfortable and calm. As well as working one-to-one, you might also offer group therapy, work in clinics, and deliver training, so you should feel comfortable and confident addressing a room full of people. You’ll often find you have to work in conjunction with professionals from other industries, such as teachers, doctors and university lecturers, so being a people person is a great bonus,
To work as a speech language pathologist, you need to be prepared for a long period of study; you’ll need to start with a Bachelors degree in a relevant subject, accompanied by a period of clinical experience at a college accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) – you’ll also have to pass an exam to earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) before you can actively practice. If you’re planning to get into teaching or research, you might need a Masters degree or PHD.