55 Career Day Ideas, Tips, and Activities for All Ages

Encourage kids to consider a wide variety of careers for the future.

Collage of career day ideas, including career centers and hands-on demos
We Are Teachers; @samjavier and @marygreeley100 via Instagram

School career days give kids a peek into their futures, with the opportunity to learn about all the job fields and opportunities available to them. These career day ideas include options for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. We’ve also got tips for making your event truly meaningful for everyone involved!

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General Career Day Tips

Colorful balloon arch with letters spelling out Career Day across the top
@simplyboldevents via Instagram

Keep activities age-appropriate

Younger students should be encouraged to explore through play, while tweens and teens are ready for a more detailed look at what various careers entail.

Invite families to participate

Chances are good that you can find someone working in just about any career you can imagine among the parents and families of your own students.

Engage with the community

People love the chance to share their careers with the next generation. Reach out to local businesses and organizations and offer them the opportunity to participate.

Include as many career fields as possible


Think big! You want to help students see that there are good jobs to fit any interest and skill set, including those that don’t necessarily require a four-year college education.

Vary your career day activities

Provide ways for all students to engage, whether they prefer to listen to others speak or actually try some hands-on experience. Keep students moving throughout the day by offering activities and speakers in multiple locations.

Start small and expand over time

If it’s your first career day, it’s OK to keep it simple. After a few years, you’ll build up a collection of regular speakers, activities, and more career day ideas.

Gauge interest

Let students request or suggest specific speakers, career field representatives, or activities they’d like to see, and accommodate them if you can.

Prepare participants

Work with speakers and other participants in advance to help them plan their presentations or activities. Make sure their plans are age-appropriate and meaningful.

Think beyond a day

As kids get older, the chance to explore a variety of careers becomes even more important. Consider dedicating one day each month to a career activity, setting up a speaker series, or trying independent career exploration projects.

Follow up afterward

Career days can help students make connections with people in careers that interest them. Encourage students to build on those connections after the official career day has ended. Younger students can help maintain community connections by writing thank-you notes to participants.

Preschool Career Activities

Preschool student dressed as a chef playing in a toy kitchen
@samjavier via Instagram

At this age, kids should be encouraged to learn through play as much as possible. Give them lots of opportunities to explore a wide array of different occupations with activities like these.


Little ones love to dress up! Provide them with lots of career-themed outfits and accessories, and encourage all kids to try on every kind of career for size.

Imaginative play

Whether they’re in costume or not, kids can pretend to be lots of different workers. Give them an array of career-themed toys and equipment, and provide every child a chance to try anything that interests them.

Career centers

Add career-themed play centers to your classroom, like kitchens, fire stations, post offices, hospitals, vet offices, science labs, and more. Keep the appropriate dress-up clothes and toys for these fields in each center for kids to experiment with.

Field trips

Pre-K is a great time to visit all sorts of workplaces. Ask parents and families if your class would be welcome for a tour, and work with community partners to find more career-themed field trip opportunities for students.

Career story time

Rather than just asking people to come talk to your class about their jobs, invite them to do read-alouds instead! Find a book related to their job in some way for story time, then let students ask questions afterward. If you do this virtually, people can participate from their workplaces and take kids on a virtual tour too.

Elementary School Career Day Ideas

Elementary student dressed in a lab coat and goggles, with a poster about being a scientist
@jessica_ray6 via Instagram

Students can explore jobs a bit more in-depth at this age, as well as learning some basic career-readiness skills. Try these ideas for elementary school career day.

Dress-up day

This is a career day classic! Students dress up as what they think they might like to be when they grow up. (Tip: Have teachers dress up as what they imagined they might do for a living when they were young!)

Career parade

Once everyone is all dressed up, hold a grand parade around the school or playground. Offer prizes for the best costumes, presented by representatives of local companies or organizations.

Parent/family job day

This is another longtime favorite: Parents and family members visit the classroom to share a little about what they do in their daily jobs.

Theme days

If you’d like to expand your career day into more events, try theming them by field. For instance, you could have a day for STEM careers, one for skilled trades, one for business careers, etc.

Virtual field trips

You can visit many more locations and see a wider array of career fields when you do it virtually. Set up videoconference time with various people, and let them take you on a tour and introduce you to the people they work with every day. Allow some time at the end for Q&A.

Career stations

Set up different rooms or booths with information, activities, outfits, speakers, and more for individual careers or fields. Kids can circulate among them, with the opportunity to spend extra time at stations that interest them the most.

Career scavenger hunt

As kids explore career stations, provide a scavenger hunt to encourage them to engage more deeply with the activities. Examples: “List three tools a carpenter uses” or “How many years of college does it take to become a doctor?”

Career library

Set aside a selection of books about different careers, and let each student pick one they want to read and report back on. (Get ideas for creative book reports here.)

STEM demos

Let STEM-related workers give demonstrations of what they do in their jobs, from coding demos and engineering challenges to lab experiments and animal interactions.

Career skits

Take imaginative career play to the next level by asking kids to write and perform simple skits set in different workplaces. They can play out a normal workday or show a worker tackling a special challenge or task.

Go-to-work day

This takes some coordination, but it’s a cool way to really immerse kids in careers. Think of it like “Take Your Child to Work Day,” but kids aren’t limited to only visiting their parents’ jobs. Instead, a group of kids signs up to visit various participating businesses, and each is partnered with an employee for an hour or two to tour the facility and learn more about what happens there.

Career crafts

Paper firefighter hats, DIY stethoscopes, worker finger puppets … there are lots of fun crafts kids can make and take home as they learn about different jobs and career fields.

Career day booklets

Give each student a blank booklet of eight pages or so. On each page, encourage them to illustrate and take notes about one career that really interests them. They’ll each go home with an individualized resource for talking to their families about possible jobs for the future.

Lunch with a …

When it’s time for lunch, set up a room or table for each career and let kids sign up to eat with people from that field. They can chat informally while they dine, sharing stories and asking questions in a naturally comfortable environment.

Career bulletin boards

Create bulletin boards themed by career or field throughout the building. Let each class work together to create their own, then take a tour to check out the whole collection.

Career posters

Let each student choose a career they’d like to learn more about, then have them create posters showing what they find out. Display the posters in school hallways, and let kids stand nearby to answer questions about the job on which they’ve become an expert.

My first resume

Introduce kids to the basic idea of what a resume is, then help them write their own. Of course, at this age they don’t have specific job experience. However, they can list their experiences doing chores at home or at school, plus any special skills they have. It can be fun to watch them create titles for themselves like “Dog Walker” or “Bedroom Cleaner”!

Equipment displays

Invite businesses to bring in equipment big and small, from fire trucks, construction equipment, and portable X-ray machines to medical supplies, building tools, and cooking implements. Kids will love getting a closer look at these tools of the trade.

Personal career collage

After kids have a chance to learn more about all the jobs available to them, have them assemble a collage that shows the occupations they’d most like to try someday. They can cut out pics from magazines, or work online to collect digital images or videos for a virtual version.

Career day pledge

At the end of the day, invite each student to sign a Career Day Pledge, in which they promise to stay in school and prepare themselves to succeed at any job their future holds.

Middle and High School Career Day Ideas

Student and health care worker performing a procedure on a model of a human limb
@marygreeley100 via Instagram

Now’s the time to really get into the nitty-gritty of what careers entail and what it takes to work in specific fields. The more opportunities for career exploration you can offer teens, the better. These ideas and activities make the most of their time dedicated to learning about careers and employment in general.

Career fair

The classic career fair takes a bit of logistical planning, but it can actually be among the easier career day ideas. Most businesses and organizations already have materials ready to go for career and recruitment fairs, so offer them a place to set up their tables and booths and encourage them to tailor their overall presentation to students.

Job shadow

Sometimes a job sounds good in theory, but when we actually see what it entails on a day-to-day basis, it’s not quite what we had in mind. That’s why job shadowing is such a good idea. Today’s technology makes things easier than ever before too. If you can’t get kids to workplaces in person, they can connect via video chat to spend a few hours with employees instead.

Wheel of careers

This is a fun activity you can do during career day or as preparation for the event. Kids “spin the wheel” to learn more about a selection of careers from every kind of field. It’s a great way to encourage them to consider jobs they might not have thought about before. Find the Wheel of Careers activity here.

Career cluster rooms

Clustering various careers together in one space makes sense and helps give some structure to your activities. Students will have an easier time finding the jobs they want to investigate, and you’ll keep people spread out into more manageable groups too.

Career groups by interest

Another way to group careers is by the skills and interests they involve. Set up stations for sports-based careers, math-based jobs, jobs for those who love to write, occupations for people who like to use their hands, etc. Label them “If You Like ________, Try These Jobs!”

Career panel

Arrange for panels of speakers related to specific careers. Each can give a short introduction to their job, then they can talk about their work among themselves as well as taking questions from students. This gives kids an excellent chance to compare opportunities in related fields.

Entrepreneur showcase

Those who want to go into business for themselves will love getting to talk with local business owners, start-ups, and other entrepreneurs. They’ll get a clearer picture of the benefits and challenges of being a business owner, and they can present some of their ideas to those who can give them tips and advice.

CTE tours

Don’t forget to include your area’s career and technical education programs as you assemble your career day ideas! They’re among the best resources you have for presenting quality jobs to kids, especially those in the skilled trades, health care, service and hospitality industries, and other positions students can start preparing for while they’re still in high school.

Student-led interviews

Let students find out what they really want to know by putting them front and center with speakers. Help them compile a list of questions in advance, then interview career representatives to investigate their jobs. Consider recording these interviews so students can check out as many of them as they want to after career day is over.

Hands-on experiences

Trying something for yourself is a meaningful way to see it’s something you really like. Ask businesses and organizations to set up hands-on experiences. Maybe kids can try their hand at cutting hair on a model head, examining a “patient,” using construction tools to build something simple, etc. These encounters will be incredibly popular!

Community service

Volunteer at organizations like nursing homes, after-school education programs, food pantries, and other community services. It’s a good look at the nonprofit world and also lets kids try out some of the roles that need to be filled at these valuable workplaces.

Career-themed competitions

Have a cook-off or bake-off, host a debate, set an engineering challenge, hold an art or writing contest … kids probably already have a lot of the skills they’ll need to do the jobs that interest them most! Interactive career day ideas like this really help build interest and engagement.

Career interest inventory

There are many career interest inventory tests and worksheets teens can complete to find out what they’re best suited for. Use these as the kick-off to your day, or in the preparation and planning stages so students can decide what they want to investigate more thoroughly on the day itself.

Resume workshop

As juniors and seniors start looking for summer jobs and internships, they’ll value the chance to learn what a good resume looks like and how to build their own. Bring in professional experts to advise them, but be sure they’re up-to-date on the newest trends. Resumes have changed a lot in the last couple of decades.

Mock interviews

Interviewing for a job can be stressful, and many people don’t get any experience until they’re sitting in front of a hiring committee for the first time. Mock interviews with real hiring managers give students a low-stakes chance to see what the experience is really like and polish their interpersonal skills.

Professional skills workshops

One of the biggest complaints many people have about employees first entering the working world is that they don’t understand professional norms. Workplaces are very different from school, and we can’t expect kids to automatically know professional behavior. Instead, provide workshops where they can learn things like professional writing and communication, workplace attire and behavior, and their rights and responsibilities as future employees.

Where are they now?

Highlight graduates from your school by sharing what they do now. Be sure to include representatives from a variety of fields so kids can see that those who’ve walked the same halls are now working as everything from teachers and lawyers to welders, stockbrokers, and more!

Alumni networking

Even better, invite some of those alumni to visit or even become mentors to current students. As adults know, finding a good job is often very much about who you know, so help older teens start to establish their professional network now.

Post–career day follow-ups

Teach students the importance of following up with contacts by having them write thank-you notes to someone they met who made an impact on career day. Review these notes for professional language and help kids compose them, then send them off so members of the community know they really did make a difference.

Career resources guide

Put together a guide students can use as they explore their future options. Include websites, college and career prep tips, and more. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has some terrific resources to help you get started.

What are your school’s best career day ideas? Come share your tips and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, Important Life Skills Every Teen Should Learn.

Make the day meaningful for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students with these fun and engaging career day ideas!