(BPT) - Women now represent nearly half of the American workforce, and more than half of all American women work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only are more women working, more are earning college educations, and more are entering fields once considered male-dominated. Young women just beginning their working lives - whether recent graduates of high school or college - have more career options than ever, including jobs that provide adventure and achievement.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says women constitute more than 16 percent of all aerospace engineers, as well as nearly 38 percent of private investigators and detectives. According to the Pentagon, more than 14 percent of active-duty military service people are women, including 21 female admirals, the Navy's highest rank.
Young women looking to push personal and professional limits may find themselves drawn to atypical jobs that can turn into rewarding, lifelong careers. Here are a handful of non-traditional career paths that can provide adventure, excitement and meaningful work for young women starting their careers:
* Aerospace engineer - Design aircraft or spacecraft, satellites or even missiles. A bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related engineering or science field is required. Jobs related to national defense will likely require security clearance and possibly proof of U.S. citizenship.
* Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician - EOD technicians locate, identify, render safe and dispose of various forms of explosive devices, including conventional, nuclear, chemical and biological. While this type of job does exist in civilian law enforcement, young women can find numerous opportunities for EOD work in the Navy.
* Military clergy/chaplain - Nearly 19 percent of all civilian clergy are women. Choosing to work as a Navy chaplain means you have the opportunity to provide support, guidance and care for members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and their families, in locations around the world.
* Law enforcement officer - A number of jobs fall under this heading, including police officer (12 percent are women) and detective. Depending on the job you want, you'll need a varying level of education, but as in many industries higher degrees can help you land a higher-level job and salary.
* Diver - From search and rescue to underwater salvage, divers play a number of exciting roles. Navy divers perform underwater countermeasures, salvage, repair and maintenance, submarine rescue and provide support to Special Warfare and Explosive Ordnance Disposal communities.
* Pilot or flight engineer - Women represent about 7 percent of civilian pilots, and many flight-related opportunities are available in the Navy. Naval aviators make up one of the world's most renowned aviation teams, piloting state-of-the-art aircraft?, and directing critical flight missions, such as guiding missiles to destroy terrorist hide-outs, dropping relief supplies to those in need, or capturing intel imagery of potential adversaries.
* Aviation rescue swimmer - Primarily working in military branches such as the Navy, rescue swimmers perform aviation rescue operations over land and in open water. When someone needs help, such as getting off a mountain or rescued at sea, they often turn to an aviation rescue swimmer.
Whatever adventurous career you choose, it's a good idea to research educational requirements. Some jobs may require a bachelor's degree or higher, while others may be available to candidates with only a high school diploma (change to: recent high school graduates or with a high school diploma. To learn more about career opportunities for women in the Navy, visit www.navy.com/inside/winr.html or www.navy.com/inside/winr/faqs.html for a list of questions women frequently ask about training and requirements. For more information about opportunities to serve, visit www.navy.com.