Career Exploration Lesson Plans You'll Love Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on June 1st, 2017

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Career Exploration Lesson Plans You'll Love

Career Exploration | Career Readiness | Middle School

Are you looking for ideas for career exploration lesson plans? We've heard from hundreds of middle school teachers that finding ways to introduce career exploration is tough... yet it's required!

Career exploration seems to have a renewed sense of purpose recently, and I hope that trend continues. Why? I'm of a mind that you can do no better service to your students than to help them explore options -- options that haven't occurred to them or that they've yet to be exposed to. How many missed opportunities have there been for so many people simply out of ignorance?

When you think about it, career exploration isn't merely something "nice to do," it's critical content for your students. Texas is big on preparing students for careers, and the state of Ohio has an entire course for career readiness. Imagine how much more effective this course could be if students start with some idea of what career they'd like to pursue?

Why Career Preparation Lesson Plans Are Critical

There must be a reason educational standards are starting to include portions on career exploration and preparation among the more general employability skills. I found a quote from America's Promise Alliance that really hit it home for me:

"How do we expect young people to dream if they don’t know what they can dream about?"

They go on to cite these reasons that career exploration matters for our students today:

  • Gives young people broader exposure to the working world they will one day enter
  • Improves academic performance
  • Improves the attitudes of young people about their career possibilities
  • Increases students’ knowledge of career options
  • Allows students to more easily envision how they fit successfully into the working world
  • Encourages students to plan their high school courses of study carefully to gain the skills they will need

Click here to read the entire explanation. And you can save our handy graphic to keep as a reminder for yourself and other teachers:

Why Career Exploration Lesson Plans are Critical

Where to find Career Exploration Worksheets, Activities, and Lesson Ideas

So, with all of this in mind many teachers are in search of career exploration activities and lessons to use as a base in their curriculum. Luckily, there are many great resources out there for you to dive into!

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is a web community that is essentially an open marketplace for teachers to share, sell, and buy educational resources from each other. They have a hearty menu of career exploration lessons and activities to choose from. You can sort by price, target grade level, and other variations to find content relevant to your students: Career Exploration Content on Teachers Pay Teachers has some relevant activities and lessons you can use as a starting point. There's a lot of information so it will take time to go through, but at least you won't start from scratch! Check it out: - Jobs and Careers Lesson Plans


CareerOneStop has an "Explore Careers" section on their website that includes self-assessment students can take that you can use as an introduction to career exploration: CareerOneStop - Explore Careers

Learning for Life

Learning for Life had a great document on their website that includes career exploration lessons for 6th and 7th grade. You can access the document here: Career Exploration Lessons

Want more than just Career Exploration Lesson Plans?

If you're looking for a more robust curriculum that already has lesson plans and activities ready for you to use, CareerCenter21 may be more your style. CareerCenter21 offers a little more 'meat' than the other options when it comes to career exploration curriculum. Not to mention the time saved when compared to digging through many websites!

Students engage with interactive eLearning lessons that are surrounded by activities and offline resources for teachers to use as reinforcing materials. Here is a glimpse of what students will do in CareerCenter21's Career Development and Exploration module...

The Career Development and Exploration Module

In this module, the students go through the career planning process. The main goal is for them to become familiar with the process and understand some of the resources available to help them plan for success. The module includes activities, discussion questions, eLearning lessons, current event reports, and many other resources.

In a nutshell, students go through these career exploration phases:

  • Assessment - A self-assessment portion will be included in case the students don't have information from the school. This way, they can still complete the unit.
  • Exploration - Students explore different occupations that align with their self-assessment.
  • Research - The research phase is where student find out detailed information about several occupations they find interesting.
  • Planning - This step includes choosing an occupation that most interests them and then defining goals to achieve that occupation.

Unit: Career Choices

The module starts out with an introductory activity. In the activity students will identify possible career choices, considering their interests and career goals, and necessary qualifications for those careers. This is a great way to start talking about careers, and teachers can use it to start class discussions.

Unit: Career Exploration and Research

In this unit, students will learn about some basic definitions and why career planning is important. The students perform a simple self-assessment. Then, they'll research occupations that align with their self-assessment and select an occupation that interests them.

Unit: Career Goals and Barriers

In this unit, students define goals to achieve their selected occupation and investigate barriers that they might face along the way. Also, students explore career clusters and the career pathway associated with their selected occupation. Finally, they explore related career options based on the career cluster and pathway.

The big benefit of using a curriculum like CareerCenter21 is that there is an entire library of related content. You can extend your students' experience with career preparation by using the other Career Readiness and Digital Literacy modules. Here's what's currently available:

Do you need Career Exploration Lesson Plans?

How to Get Started with Career Exploration Middle School Lessons

In many cases, career exploration might better be called "career awareness." Make sure your students get the opportunity to not only to explore careers, but also to simply be exposed to and become aware of the many career options that are out there.

Including career exploration lesson plans and activities in your curriculum presents career awareness AND discovery. Who knows what interesting careers you are sprouting in your classroom!

Still need some help getting started? This article has some great tips to help you out: How To Get Started with Career Exploration Lesson Plans & Activities

Career Readiness Skills for Middle School Students[Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.]


About Sarah Layton

Sarah has been with AES since 1998, first serving as a curriculum developer, and now as a customer support analyst and content creator. She is committed to helping instructors gain experience and confidence using our solutions and to providing excellent customer care.