What is Nontraditional Employment?

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What exactly is nontraditional employment? Certainly, it is employment that is contrary to past tradition, but in what ways? Let’s take a little bit deeper look at this particular subject.

Nontraditional Work Defined

According to the United States Department of Labor, traditional employment is employment that has historically been composed of one employed gender at a rate of 25% or less. In other words, if a job position has been mainly composed of one gender over another to the tune of 75% or more, this is considered a traditional position.

In breaking this mold, anyone who works in this area to the contrary is working a position of nontraditional employment. A hypothetical example would be woman going to work at a typically all-male assembly line. She is an exception to this position mainly being held by men, therefore, she is in an example of what is considered a nontraditional employee. Due to the history of male-dominated vocations throughout the US, a nontraditional arrangement is usually comprised of a woman entering a traditionally male position as opposed to the other way around.

Real World Examples

In order to provide further illustration of the concept, we look to a few vocational examples in which the male gender historically dominated, creating a nontraditional situation for women. These positions have since begun accepting female workers but are still very much considered nontraditional careers for them. Here are just three examples.

Infantry, Military Combat Positions

The US government was actually behind the traditionalized stance of men only being able to serve in combat-related positions in the military. This all changed though in 2013 with the official ban on women in combat being discarded. Now, women and men are equally allowed into such military positions but female participation is still relatively low.

Aircraft Pilots

As listed by the Department of Labor, female aircraft pilots are still quite the rarity. Any instances in which a female fills this position is therefore considered nontraditional. This is slowly changing though as more women become engaged in the aviation industry as a whole.


Working in the police force in general has long been a difficulty for women. This male-dominated occupation operated as such for many years with changes to this pattern only recently occuring. Now, women are found more and more in law enforcement roles. Unfortunately though, promotion to the status of detective is still a rarity. As such, the DOL considers females in the detective position to be absolutely nontraditional at this point.

Current Conditions

Currently, we are in the midst of great change taking place in these areas. A more aware and educated society has certainly begun to incorporate women into the various working roles with much less discriminatory approach. According to the DOL, the following positions were considered nontraditional as of 1988 but are now no longer the case.

  • Chemists
  • Lawyers
  • Correctional Officers
  • Butchers
  • Mail Carriers
  • Professional Athletes
  • Purchasing Managers
  • and many more

In conclusion, this has certainly been a troubled area for many years. Today, this is all changing though and for the better. These are the basics of nontraditional employment as well as its current and past states in our country.

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