5 Career Exploration Lesson Plans You'll Love | Teach Career Units Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on June 1st, 2017

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5 Career Exploration Lesson Plans You'll Love | Teach Career Units

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 teaching career exploration is tough — but it's required!

Career exploration seems to have a renewed sense of purpose recently, and I hope that trend continues.


You can do no better service to your students than to help them explore their future options — options that haven't occurred to them or that they haven't encountered yet.

How many students have missed their calling because they didn't hear about it at the right time?

When you think about it, career exploration isn't just something "nice to do" — it's critical for your students.

Several states believe this, too. Texas is big on career preparation, and Ohio has an entire course for career readiness.

So are these lesson plans right for you? Learn from this video!

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 also cite key reasons why career exploration matters for students today.

Career exploration:

  • Introduces students to the working world they will one day enter
  • Improves academic performance
  • Improves the attitudes of students about career potential
  • Increases students’ knowledge of career options
  • Helps students see how they fit in the working world
  • Encourages students to plan high school courses based on future goals

We condensed these concepts into a single graphic for teachers. 

Why Career Exploration Lesson Plans are Critical

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

So we know career exploration is important, helpful, and in-demand.

But where can you get career exploration resources?

We did the groundwork for you. Check out the best career exploration resources we've found!

1. 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.

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

2. Kids.gov

Kids.gov 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: Kids.gov - Jobs and Careers Lesson Plans

3. CareerOneStop

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.

You can read more about this here: CareerOneStop - Explore Careers

4. 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

5. CareerCenter21


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. 

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 identify possible career choices, consider their interests, and examine the requirements for those careers. 

This is a great way to jumpstart the discussion about careers in any class. 

Unit: Career Exploration and Research

In this unit, students will learn why career planning matters and basic terminology about it. 

The students perform a quick self-assessment and then move to occupations that alignw ith those assessments. 

After that, they look at a finalized occupation that appeals to their specific interests. 

Unit: Career Goals and Barriers

In this unit, students define the goals they need to achieve to start in their chosen careers. 

They also look at possible barriers and roadblocks they'll encounter along the way. 

In addition, students explore career clusters and the specific pathway associated with their goal occupation. 

Last, they explore other career options that all relate to their interests, empowering students with the knowledge to choose their futures. 

Your Career Exploration Curriculum: CareerCenter21

The big benefit of using a curriculum like CareerCenter21 is its library of content.

You can enhance your students' experience with career preparation by using the other Career Readiness and Digital Literacy modules.

Career Exploration Curriculum Catalog

The best part? 

We constantly expand and update our content library.

So once you start using it, you get free updates as long as you subscribe to us. 

Get Started with Middle School Career Exploration 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.

Still need some help getting started? 

Check out our CareerCenter21 curriculum and match it to your classroom needs!

Check Out CareerCenter21


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.