Career Awareness/Exploration // Researching Careers
Taxonomy of Careers

This activity introduces students to researching careers by having students aggregate all their current career-related vocabulary.

Suggested Grade Level



Approximate Time Needed




This activity will allow pull together all the different words you can think of that relate to careers by completing a career taxonomy.

The terms job, or occupation, and career are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. A job is a period of employment in your life—it is an activity you do for money or income. An occupation is the same thing as a job. A career is something you build throughout your lifetime. A series of jobs can lead to a long-term career if you decide to focus on a particular field in your employment choices. Some people change careers over the course of their lives (e.g., an investment banker who becomes a teacher), but they usually start with a certain work goal in mind. Career planning, which you will be doing in this lesson, is when you look ahead and think about where you want to go and how you can get there.

Look at the example taxonomy, it is a place to collect words describing different colors; and the words are organized according to what letter they begin with. If you were to continue working with this taxonomy, you would think of colors not on the list and write them in the row that corresponds with the first letter of that color. For example, if you thought of the word purple, you would write it in the row for words beginning with P, where “pink” and “periwinkle” are already listed.

For this activity, you will develop taxonomies to build vocabulary and to see the relationships among important words. Your taxonomies will also be helpful tools for the writing and reading assignments you receive in the future.

Teacher Notes

Have students begin independently by thinking of words that might belong under the general heading of “careers.” For example, if the word teaching comes to mind, the student would write the word teaching in the row labeled with the letter T.

Have students work independently for about five minutes, writing as many words as they can think of that relate directly to what they know about or associate with careers. They may write more than one word for each letter, and they should not worry about finding a word for every letter.

Now organize students in pairs. Ask them to collaborate by sharing words in order to build their taxonomies. For example, if one student has written farming and the other has not, the second student would add farming to his or her taxonomy.

If time allows, after five minutes, have students leave their taxonomies on their desks and walk around the room to view each other’s lists. They should note new words from their peers’ lists to add to their own taxonomies.

Give students a couple of minutes to add the words they collected to their taxonomies. Then, have them put an asterisk next to those words that name one or two careers they think sound like fun or that they might like to explore.

Invite students to share some of the words that were easy to come up with, as well as words from peers’ lists that they hadn’t thought of themselves. Also call on several volunteers to share the careers they starred.

Finally, explain that researchers have come up with ways to categorize careers based on what different careers have in common. Organizing careers in this way can be helpful in deciding which ones to investigate. Specifically, some researchers have developed a system to organize careers into six general career fields and 16 different career clusters. Tell students that they will be learning more about the 16 career clusters and the six general career fields the clusters belong to in the next activity.

Assessment Notes

Completion of worksheet

Return to Career Readiness
Additional lessons in Researching Careers

Career Clusters

This activity introduces students to 16 career clusters and their related career fields.

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Day in the Life Videos - Exploring Careers in Your Pathway Industry Sector

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Day in the Life Videos – Exploring Careers You Are Interested In

The purpose of this activity is expose students to careers which they may be interested in and have them reflect on how their interests match a career after viewing a Day in the Life Video.

The Career for Me

This activity allows students to explore careers that they are interested in pursuing and to understand their skill set in the context of the careers that they want to pursue.

Career Research

The purpose of this task is for students to synthesize and share accurate career research they have conducted, and to reflect upon the personal relevance of that research.