Teach students and kids about careers with these 19 free worksheets and lesson plans. Career exploration for students to do.

One of the most important reasons behind a formal education – besides teaching your students how to think for themselves – is to get kids ready to take on an engaging and exciting career.

a group of teen students walking and talking in a meadow, text overlay "best free career exploration resources for students and kids, worksheets, lesson plans, etc."

And a career? Well, that’s the foundation to any person being able financially provide for themselves – what we call, financial independence.

That’s why I take a real interest in helping kids, tweens, and teens get the best fun career exploration activities resources out there.

So that one day, they can find a fulfilling job and be able to earn enough money to not only survive, but thrive.

Career Exploration for Students

What all is involved in career exploration for students?

To be honest, there’s a lot to cover here.

You want to provide fun and engaging activities for topics like:

  • Understanding Careers: The foundational blocks of understanding how a person earns money, having a job versus working on a career, how to develop your career, etc.
  • Career Interest Assessments: Which careers intersect a child’s natural abilities and a child’s interests?
  • Career Investigation: What does a day look like when holding down a job in one of those career fields that interests a student? What’s the salary like? This can include activities in the classroom, research, and also shadowing.
  • Skill Identification and Development: What skills do they need to pursue a job that interests them? What level of education would they need?
  • Understanding How to Get Hired: Things like interviews, creating a resume, job searches, etc. are critical for students to know how to do.
  • Career Stepping Stones: What steps can the student take right now (and before they graduate high school) in order to set themselves just a few steps closer to getting into that career field (i.e. internships, volunteer activities, writing a first resume, type of afterschool/weekend jobs)?
  • Income and Paycheck Management: Discussing how to not only manage a paycheck from a real-job, but also how to manage your career so that your income more than matches current cost of living needs. Also, going over paycheck taxes, pay type (salary, hourly, commissions), insurance, workplace retirement contributions, and other deductions.

Whew – that list wasn’t meant to overwhelm you.

Rather, I wanted to inspire you with what an important and life-changing topic you’re covering with your students and kids.

Plus, to outline some of the areas you can cover with these fun career activities and resources I’ve found for you, below.

Career Exploration for Kids – Free Career Assessments

First up, let’s talk about how to get your kids and students actually interested in career exploration activities.

There’s no better way to pique a student’s interest than to find out what THEY are most interested in learning about.

One way to do this is to start off your unit of study with free career assessments.

1. Truity.com Career Assessment

I spoke with the people at Truity.com, and they said a good age minimum to take their free career assessment is 14/15 years of age.

The test is free to take, plus you get a basic report with results. You don’t even need to have a student register for them to do this!

screenshot of Truity's career assessment test for students

However, if you want to be able to view each of your student’s results, you’d have to sign up for a Pro account.

2. CareerOneStop’s Career Assessment

This free, 30-question career quiz from the U.S. Department of Labor will help a student figure out some possible career choices.

screenshot of Career One Stop's career assessment test for students

3. O*NET Interest Profiler

Another career assessment test sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor is O*NET’s interest profiler. There are 60 questions in total.

screenshot of Onet's career assessment test for students

Career Exploration Worksheets for Students

While I don’t recommend you center your entire career unit around career exploration worksheets, the ones below can definitely add to students discovering jobs, industries, etc.

1. Career Research Worksheet

Here’s a simple, one-page worksheet you can get for free with a free account on Teachers Pay Teachers.

It will help focus your student’s career research.

screenshot of one page career exploration worksheet for students

2. Career Family Tree

This free worksheet of fun career activities has an idea that I love – for students to create a family career tree. They’ll need to ask family members and do the research, which of course is a great way for kids to understand their loved ones even better (plus to learn a thing or two).

3. Classroom Job Application

With a free Teachers Pay Teachers account, get this simple classroom job application your students can fill out to “apply” for classroom jobs.

screenshot of classroom job application worksheet for students

4. Earning Income Career Earning Worksheet

BizWorld has this free, simple worksheet to help your students research a career and salary information.

5. Collection of Career Exploration Worksheets (9-12 grades)

Here’s a bunch of different career activities and worksheets for grades 9-12.

Worksheets include:

  • Reality Check Worksheet
  • Networking Bingo
  • Speed Interviewing
  • Etc.

Career Lesson Plans

Looking for more than just career preparedness worksheets?

Check out these enter career lesson plans, available for free.

Hint: many of them include both worksheets and videos.

1. PWC’s Earn Your Future Digital Classroom

Check out Level 3 (for Grades 9 – 12), Module Chart Your Course. It talks about:

  • The relationship between education and careers
  • The opportunity cost of pursuing additional education
  • The importance of monetary and nonmonetary compensation when selecting a job

2. BizKid’s It’s a Job to Get a Job

Download an entire lesson plan for high schoolers that include topics like:

  • Job search techniques
  • Interviewing
  • Adding value as an employee

Career Games for Kids

1. Claim Your Future

Students select different career paths, are given a typical salary, and then are given various spending choices. The amount of money they spend throughout the game is tracked so that they can see, and make any adjustments as needed.

screenshot of Claim Your Future career exploration game for teenagers

2. The Payoff

Suggested Age Range: 14 years and older

Practical Money Skills has come up with another free online career game, and this time it's all about two teenagers trying to start up a business in a competitive atmosphere.

Students will have to evaluate business deals, learn how to grow their business, and how to overcome financial challenges in business and in life.

3. Auction Adventures – Auctioneer Career Game for Kids

Suggested Age Range: Grades 3-5

Being paid by commission is wayyyyy different than getting a salary (or, even, being paid hourly). You have to actually sell something to make any money!

This game has your students calculate their commission rates while, at the same time, learning about how auctioneers work in a variety of different places.

Here's a set of worksheets to go along with this game.

screenshot of auction adventures career games for kids

4. The Uber Game

Like it or not, the “gig economy” where people are not full employees of companies, but still accept gigs from them and earn a small or substantial amount of money on the side, seems to be here to stay.

So, kids should understand how this can fit into their career and money plans!

The Uber Game gives your teen a scenario, such as they have a $1,000 mortgage payment due in a week, and then asks them to try and earn enough money through accepting gigs in order to pay that bill.

Can they do it? Is it hard or easy? Can they sustain themselves on a gig job?

screenshot of The Uber online career game for students

Psst: You’ll want to check out my 31 free personal finance homeschool curriculum, as some of the resources also have free career resources.

Career Research for Students

When students research a career, they need to look at it from several different angles before deciding if it’s possibly on their “Career Hitlist”.

Here are the different things to research for a career:

  • Find Income information: Salary, or hourly pay? What’s the range? Do people have this as their only job, or do they need to supplement with a second job to “make ends meet” (i.e. pay all their bills plus save money each month)?
  • Ask People and Watch Interviews: Your student will want to make sure a day in the life of a potential profession is something they’d actually be interested in. Interviewing current employees in a profession, or even watching videos where professionals are interviewed can be really helpful.
  • Find Shadow Opportunities: Students can go shadow a job within your school district, or with a family/friend. Or, they can take part in a Take Your Child to Work day at their parent’s/aunt’s employer. 

Psst: Have you ever heard of CareerVillage? Students can ask career-related questions and get them answered by professionals, for free! Students of all ages are accepted, and they’ll need to create an account (for free) to ask a question.

1. How to Research a “Day in the Life”

You want your students to feel what it’s like to be on the job in a career path they’re researching.

Help them to do this by:

  • Career Biographies: There are a vast number of what I like to call career biographies that help a child understand what it’s actually like to pursue a certain career field. I’ve got an article on 22 career books for kids, broken down by age and profession type.
  • Career Videos: These can be really helpful, particularly when funds don’t allow for school field trips. MyAmericanFarm.org has a great collection of 3 to 26-minute videos on all different types of agricultural careers. PathSource has an impressive collection of career interview videos. Kids Work! Has a nice collection of career videos for kids (Grades 3-8).
  • Career Shadowing: Career shadowing was quite cool when I was in high school. Students should be encouraged to shadow someone at their job, whether it’s a parent/family member, or even someone within the school district. Reach out to your principal, vice principal, administrative assistants, and anyone else working at your school district to see if you can set up some job shadowing to go along with your career unit.
  • Career Interviewing: You could have your students brainstorm a list of interview questions for someone in a job they’re curious about, and then actually help them find a person to interview either by email or in person. Imagine what they could learn from the experience!
  • Take Your Child to Work Day: My sister and I both took turns taking the train to Washington D.C. to my aunt’s, and then she would take us into her job at NBC for a “Take Your Child to Work Day”. It was SO neat! It’s really a perfect way to get a taste for what a day in a job looks like (not to mention, motivate a child to want to do better at school so they can get some of the cool positions they get to see).

2. How to Research Income Information

While it used to be difficult to figure out income averages for a career or job type, it’s quite simple nowadays thanks to some seriously great, free, resources provided by the Department of Labor.

Here’s a one-stop salary finder, where you enter the occupation and your location to get an idea of the average pay.

It also offers a listing of professions, so students can click around by career cluster (or category) and just explore.

Psst: another important thing to make students aware of through research? Are career projections. In other words, is an industry or job path they want to pursue growing, or are the jobs getting scarcer? Here’s a great resource from Workforce Solutions (for just the Houston-Galveston area, though it still drives the point home about the importance of this question) that shares percentages for various careers.

3. Lessons to Understand Paycheck Taxes and Deductions

EverFI has free financial literacy lessons for kids and students, and Lesson 3 is on income and taxes.

screenshot of EverFi's free career lesson on income and taxes

Students will be given different ideas about careers, as well as the pros and cons to each.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2016 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.