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Career Exploration | Career Readiness | Middle School

5 Best Career Exploration Projects for Middle School

September 28th, 2021 | 7 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

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

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Middle school is an important but uncertain time for students to think about their interests and abilities and begin to contemplate their future occupations. As a teacher, you strive to turn that uncertainty into excitement. One of the best ways to do so is to use engaging projects that guide and inspire your students to discover the diverse career opportunities available to them.

When looking for career exploration resources, teachers often ask about our career readiness curriculum. Thousands of middle school teachers use Business&ITCenter21 every year as a core curriculum to teach career readiness skills and concepts. 

However, if you’re only looking for supplemental career exploration projects and activities, Business&ITCenter21 might not be the right fit for you.

In this article, we’ll look at five career exploration activities to help you find the best exercises for your students. For each activity, we'll discuss four elements of the project:

  • An overview of the provider and project
  • What materials are included
  • The price
  • Who it’s a good fit for

After reading this post, you’ll better understand what types of career exploration projects are available and which could be the right fit for stimulating your students to dream about their future jobs.

Project 1: Career Exploration and Research Project from 2 Peas and a Dog, Teachers Pay Teachers

career exploration research project

Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) allows instructors to share and sell classroom activities and worksheets with their colleagues, often for modest prices. 

This career exploration and research project for distance learning by 2 Peas and a Dog is adaptable for any subject area and includes resources to help students develop reading, writing, and speaking skills.

You can encourage learners to take a web-based career assessment before researching potential career choices. The project culminates in students creating posters and giving oral presentations on a career of interest.

What is included?

  • 23 pages of content
  • Teacher instructions
  • Assignment sheet and rubrics
  • 6 graphic organizers

In addition, the project includes Google Slides for schools that use Google Classroom applications.

What is the cost?

This project is available as a single classroom license for $3.00. It can also be accessed on an institutional subscription basis using Teachers Pay Teachers’ TpT School Access service.

Who is it a good fit for?

This project is geared toward learners in grades 7-9, but teachers often use it with students in grades 7-8. It is designed to fill one to two weeks of class periods but can be extended and used over one to two months. It is a good fit for teachers looking for easy integration with Google Classroom or alignment with specific educational standards listed on the project page.

Project 2: Career/Job Exploration Research Project from The Classroom Sparrow, Teachers Pay Teachers

career exploration research project

This adaptable career exploration project from The Classroom Sparrow is also available from Teachers Pay Teachers. Although teachers most often use this project with seventh-grade students, you can adapt the activity for students at various grade levels.

The project encourages learners to look at potential careers within different disciplines, such as education, law, healthcare, agriculture, and technology. Teachers can also use it in conjunction with other resources in The Classroom Sparrow’s career readiness bundle.

What is included?

  • 16 pages of content
  • Handouts
  • Rubric
  • Resume template

What is the cost?

This project is available as an individual license for $6.50 or as part of a bundle. The Career Readiness Resources Bundle contains 17 different career and business exercises for $59.99. Since it is available from Teachers Pay Teachers, it is also accessible through a school-funded subscription.

Who is it a good fit for?

The Classroom Sparrow’s project is a good fit for students in grades 5-12. If you plan to discuss career concepts such as job applications, references, resumes, and cover letters in addition to introductory career exploration, you would benefit from using this project.

Project 3: Career Research Project from The Green Light, Teachers Pay Teachers

career research project

Looking for a way to encourage creativity and display student work in your classroom? For this career project from The Green Light, learners will develop research and writing skills while identifying a career of interest.

Students will first use a research guide to discern a possible career. Then, using pieces of poster board paper, students will write about and illustrate their occupations of choice by designing posters to look like giant business cards. 

The project invites students to learn and share about different careers and encourages them to be imaginative in designing their posters. You can use the business card posters for presentations or create a display in your classroom or hallway.

What is included?

  • 4 pages of content
  • Assignment sheet and rubric
  • Research guide
  • Sample student work

What is the cost?

This career research project is available from Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.00 and is accessible via a school-funded subscription through TpT School Access. The Green Light also offers these materials as part of a bundle for $6.50. The other resources in the bundle concern the college application process and are primarily oriented towards high school students.

Who is it a good fit for?

This activity is adaptable for different grade levels, and teachers can use it with middle and high school students in grades 6-12. Because it includes research and writing components, it is a good fit for career exploration or writing classes.

Project 4: Career Exploration: Mapping Your Life Path, Money Instructor

money-instructor-2

Money Instructor offers learning resources that coincide with financial skills, including saving, investing, and basic money management. In addition, the website provides information about business and careers.

The Mapping Your Life Path activity helps students understand and pursue a balanced lifestyle between their future careers and personal lives and build fundamental skills that will allow them to thrive in the future.

Students will look for personal strengths and weaknesses to develop a vision for a personally and professionally fulfilling life. The lesson plans also include an art activity in which students create a collage of pictures of elements of their future lives and careers.

What is included?

  • Lesson instructions directly on Money Instructor’s website
  • Printable life path lesson
  • Student worksheets
  • Collage instructions and materials list

What is the cost?

Money Instructor includes the overview plans for the Mapping Your Life activity (including the related art activity) on their website free of charge.

To download the lesson plan and student worksheets, teachers need to register for an account with Money Instructor. Registrants can choose between a limited membership with access to select materials or a full membership with access to all of Money Instructor’s materials. A full membership for educators costs $29.95 per year.

Who is it a good fit for?

If you’re looking for a lesson that is free and easy to implement, this career exploration project from Money Instructor could be a good choice. Although Money Instructor recommends the material for high school students, middle schoolers would understand and benefit from the project, particularly the career collage art activity.

Project 5: College and Career Connectionscollege and career connections

College and Career Connections is an independent website that aims to orient students to the 16 different career clusters while helping learners find careers that fit their interests and abilities. A team of business teachers from Ohio designed the website, which includes teaching materials used directly in their classrooms.

College and Career Connections takes students through an entire course on career exploration, beginning with information on career clusters and links to several career and personality assessments. The remaining units continue to introduce students to career opportunities in a variety of fields, as well as the education necessary to achieve their goals.

What is included?

  • Course syllabus
  • Career portfolio slide template for student projects
  • 6 units of course material
  • Videos, projects, career assessments, and worksheets for each unit

What is the cost?

The complete College and Career Connections course materials are freely available on the website. Since teachers designed the course for a specific institution, teachers may need to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs and standards of their school.

Who is it a good fit for?

If you want to adapt all or part of an existing course for their career readiness program can turn to College and Career Connections for free and readily adjustable course materials. Because of the number of activities available on the site, you can choose which activities are appropriate for your grade level and time constraints.

Which Career Exploration Projects are Best for Your Students?

Selecting the best projects for your classroom depends on the type of project you want to implement, your budget for new resources, and the length of time you need to fill.

Each of these career exploration activities could serve as a suitable supplement to your career readiness curriculum. However, if you are searching for a career exploration activity that you can use right now, download this free lesson plan.

This free resource will help you introduce career exploration to your students. Learners will identify possible career choices and goals. They will also consider the steps, certifications, and degrees necessary for their career of choice.

Click below to download your free career exploration lessons to use right now!

Get My Free Career Exploration Lesson Plan >