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Career Readiness

Top 5 Career Readiness Lesson Plans Your Students Will Love

September 22nd, 2021 | 10 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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Career readiness lesson plans are some of the most in-demand educational materials today. They apply to every grade level, and the skills are important for every student to know before joining the workforce.

Career readiness lessons give students the practical information and soft skills they need to move forward in their lives. And while it’s helpful to learn these skills at any point in a student’s life, it’s best to learn career readiness when a student is young.

This is why it's so important to teach career skills to younger students, especially middle school students. That early reinforcement means they can recall, understand, and apply career concepts quickly — almost like second nature. 

So how can you instill that second nature in your students’ lives?

Five of the best places to find career readiness lesson plans are:

  1. Career Guidance Lesson Plans from the State of Washington
  2. Career Development Lesson Plans from the State of Missouri
  3. Middle School College and Career Readiness Lesson Plan from EVERFI
  4. When I Grow Up from Workforce Solutions
  5. Career and College Readiness Lesson Plans from California Career Resource Network

After reading this blog, you should have a more complete idea of what career readiness resources are available to you and if one could be a good fit for you and your students.

1. Career Guidance Lesson Plans from the State of Washington


Provider: Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Grade Level: 6-12

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has a complete career readiness program for students in the state. Unlike other resources, the State of Washington has created a robust curriculum of career readiness resources for students at each grade level.

The program, entitled Career Guidance Washington, features college and career development resources for grades 6-12. For each grade level, instructors will find dozens of lesson plans designed specifically to develop career readiness knowledge and skills relevant to students at that particular grade level.

Since Career Guidance Washington is designed for students of different ages, the materials for each grade vary. Each lesson focuses on getting young learners excited about their future goals and developing the skills they need to achieve their dreams.

Some of the activities and lesson plans available through Washington’s program include:

  • Effective Test Preparation
  • Who Will I Be in the Future?
  • Career Interest Survey
  • Explore Apprenticeship
  • Note-taking
  • High School & Effective Listening
  • Personal Motivations, Assets, and Character Traits
  • After Graduation Planning

Why Teachers Love It

From an instructional perspective, Career Guidance Washington successfully provides a complete pathway for career preparation for students. Teachers can scaffold their career teaching using just lessons appropriate to their students at a particular time. The lessons can also be sprinkled throughout an entire academic year, so students receive proper instruction at the right time.

Educators also appreciate that the program not only covers traditional career readiness activities such as job searches and interest surveys but also touches on the basic 21st Century skills students will need as they enter the working world.

Why Students Love It

Students will appreciate that not every activity in Career Readiness Washington is overtly job-focused, nor do the same activities appear every year. Because each exercise is accessible and age-appropriate, students won’t feel overwhelmed thinking about their futures too soon.

Instead, this program does a great job of getting students excited about their future careers without feeling overwhelmed. It also doesn’t neglect that students need to develop skills now to be successful in the future. By including lessons that prepare students first for middle school, then for high school, and finally for college and careers, these lessons help students feel as though they aren’t alone in the process of growing up.

2. Career Development Lesson Plans from the State of Missouri 


Provider: Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Grade Level: K-12

The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education knows that career development lesson plans are important, but teachers also need to match lessons to students who can understand them.

That’s why they’ve segmented their lesson plans according to the needs of different grade levels.

That includes emotional development, academic development, career development, and grade levels.

Overall, that makes these lesson plans exceptionally specialized so teachers can find the ones that work best for their classrooms. 

Why Teachers Love It

The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education has a huge range of lesson plans. Teachers can view them in different categories or all grouped together.


That means teachers can identify the category most relevant to their needs, look into it, and pull the lesson plans that work for them. 

On top of that, Missouri’s DoE organizes its lesson plans according to scaffolding education. That makes it easier for teachers to see how all of the lessons tie together, and it helps students retain information more effectively.

That’s a big win for any teacher.

The only catch is that you’ll have to tweak these lesson plans for your own state’s standards if you don’t teach in Missouri.

Still, if you have emotional support students or other individualized education plans, Missouri’s career development lesson plans provide an excellent framework for success.

Why Students Love It

These career readiness lesson plans are so specialized that they’re practically guaranteed to apply to any group of students.

That means your students don’t just get a cookie-cutter lesson plan that leaves half the class behind. Instead, they get helpful instruction that applies to them and where they are in life.

It’s really that simple — Missouri has created a strong list of lessons that can work for any student. With that in mind, teachers can start preparing students as young as kindergarten for success after school.

Best of all, students with special needs can keep up just as well. No one is left behind. 

3. Middle School College and Career Readiness Lesson Plan from EVERFI


Provider: EVERFI

Grade Level: 6-8

EVERFI is a noted provider of free educational materials for teachers and their students. As an organization, EVERFI aims to help institutions address gaps in the educational system to provide equitable learning opportunities for everyone.

EVERFI designed its Middle School College and Career Readiness Lesson Plan to promote financial literacy to young learners and prepare a blueprint for their future careers.

This lesson plan covers the following learning objectives:

  • Identifying their current plan for the future based on their values and interests.
  • Compare and contrast how a randomly generated blueprint relates to their personal one.
  • Explain why it is important for them to create their own blueprint and not rely on others.

In order to complete the lesson, teachers and their students will need to access EVERFI’s FutureSmart program. FutureSmart is free, but teachers must contact EVERFI directly to create an account and request access. You can also preview the lesson by downloading the lesson plan on EVERFI’s webpage.

Why Teachers Love It

Teachers everywhere are looking for ways to differentiate their instruction and implement blended learning in their classrooms. The interactive, digital FutureSmart resource allows teachers to provide a refreshing alternative to dull career lectures while helping students understand the consequences of good and poor financial decisions.

EVERFI also has data to support the use of FutureSmart as a teaching tool. In March 2021, a University of Massachusetts study found that FutureSmart results in significant gains in financial knowledge among students.

Why Students Love It

When learning a subject like career readiness, students want exciting projects that will engage them. The FutureSmart computer program does just that, allowing students to make hypothetical decisions and better understand the value of sound financial management.

In the FutureSmart program, learners get to play “mayor” and help people in their “town” make sound personal finance decisions based on the principles in the lesson. Students also get to create their own financial blueprint for the future based on their values and interests.

4. When I Grown Up from Workforce Solutions


Provider: Workforce Solutions

Grade Level: 9-12

Workforce Solutions is a career services and human resources company based in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Workforce Solutions cooperates with local companies and the Texas Workforce Commission to help people find right-fit jobs.

As part of their mission, Workforce Solutions created the free When I Grow Up educational resource for high school students. The When I Grow Up Workbook includes nineteen lessons that can be used either in a self-guided fashion or paired with lesson plans also available from Workforce Solutions.

The 19 career lessons are divided into three categories:

  1. Skills Identification and Career Exploration
  2. Job Search Skills
  3. Employability Skills

Each lesson comes complete with instruction, learning objectives, and potential modifications.

Why Teachers Love It

Workforce Solutions offers complete directions for each of its 19 activities. This means that an instructor can simply look at the guide to set up a lesson based on exactly what outcomes they want to achieve.

The lessons are best taught in a sequence, so teachers who commit to using the entire track of activities could have a couple of weeks’ worth of classroom materials to teach career readiness in high school.

Finally, since Workforce Solutions produced these materials in coordination with the Texas Workforce Commission, teachers will have an easier time demonstrating how these resources match course standards for career preparation.

Why Students Love It

When I Grow Up is different from other career readiness lessons because students can work through materials at their own pace. This means that students can take their time to complete specific assignments and reflect on their long-term goals.

Students will enjoy being able to talk about their career objectives with classmates and sharing their ideas. They’ll also love activities such as judging job applications, speed interviewing, and interview negotiations.

5. Career and College Readiness Lesson Plans from California Career Resource Network


Provider: California Career Resource Network

Grade Level: 5-12

The California Career Resource Network has its own set of standards and career readiness lesson plans.

(These plans apply to post-secondary, four-year education in addition to career development.)

Their extensive list of lessons starts with an “Educator Guide” that prepares teachers for the rest of the CCRN’s content.

The lesson plans themselves are geared entirely at students. They encourage students to look inward and learn about themselves, study the market for their possible careers, and brush up on the skills they need to succeed.

The CCRN’s resources are set up as a process. Students start the process in fifth grade and continue through high school graduation.

By the time students are out of school, they’re adequately prepared for a career or additional education with real-world skills. 

Why Teachers Love It

Teachers love the CCRN’s career readiness lesson plans because they cover such a huge range of ages.

In addition, teachers love the scaffolding strategy that we see so often from lesson developers. 

CCRN also offers videos, Word documents, and PDFs so teachers can make the most of every class they have at every grade.


As a result, teachers just need to fill in any information gaps they feel are important. Otherwise, they’re ready to teach — complete with Spanish-translated worksheets!

Why Students Love It

Students love these lesson plans because they’re student-focused, procedural, and versatile.

The lessons are student-focused because they ask students to look inward and explore what they value in life. Then, the lessons walk students through different careers that apply to those preferences.

Students also love the procedural nature of the lesson plans. They build off of and reinforce each other so students never lose the information they learned the year prior.

Last, they appreciate the versatility of the lessons, especially if they’re ESL students.

The CCRN prepares these lesson plans in English and Spanish because of California’s large Spanish-speaking population.

Because Spanish is becoming more common throughout the country, any teacher from Texas to Minnesota can use these lessons for students who don’t natively speak English. 

Which Career Readiness Lesson Plans are Right for You?

Ultimately, your particular situation will determine which career readiness resources best suit your classroom. You’ll need to think about the amount of time you have to teach career readiness, the specific needs of your students, and the academic objectives you are seeking to accomplish.

Any of these resources could be a great supplement to your existing curriculum, but sometimes you are looking for a quick, easy-to-use resource that you can implement right away.

This free career exploration lesson plan and activity includes material to help students identify possible career choices, along with the steps, certifications, and degrees they will need to achieve their goals.

Download your free career exploration lesson plan here:Get My Free Career Exploration Lesson Plan >