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Career Planning


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The middle and high school years are viewed as a critical time that can determine the student’s future. Every spring, thousands of students make very important career choices when they register for next year’s classes. Many times these choices are made without much thought for the future, or the student’s intentions or aspirations.

Each time a student selects a high school subject, they open the door to a career opportunity. Each time they do not take a subject, they could be closing a door to a career opportunity. The courses selected in school provide the educational foundation to build your occupational or career choices.

Research has shown that career planning is a complex lifelong process. From being a kindergartner learning about the workplace from his/her parents; to the career management of economic changes in jobs or employment; to the later years of choosing a retirement career or interest, a person needs to think proactively about skills and knowledge needed to be economically viable and valuable. Planning thoughtfully with input from others who are aware of your assets and strengths, is the focus of career planning.

I Have A Plan Iowa™

In 2008, Iowa Code section 279.61, passed requiring students to complete a career and educational planning process called the 8th Grade Plan. Each Iowa school will cooperate with the student to create an electronic portfolio and add state components to the portfolio using the state designated career information system. These state components include assessments and surveys, career research, course plan building, education linkages, and financial aid and career development activities that assist them in their future. The state components are developmentally appropriate for the grade level of the students, and the assessments and activities in each successive Guideway build on the established portfolio. Students can revise their career and educational plans as they mature and learn more about themselves and their interests and abilities.

I Have a Plan 2012 - 13 Cohort Completion Rates
View data by school district, grade and building level. 
*Note that percentages greater than 100% reflect duplicate student accounts

The state designated career/educational information system in Iowa is I Have A Plan Iowa™. The website is

I Have A Plan Iowa™ includes many useful features that help individuals:

  • Discover their strengths and interests
  • Match interests, values and skills with education and employment opportunities
  • Prepare for the ACT, SAT or GRE college entrance tests through free test preparation
  • Explore programs and majors at Iowa's colleges and universities
  • Research financial aid and scholarship options
  • Apply for all state-administered financial aid programs
  • Build resumes and practice for job interviews
  • Track activities from middle school, high school, college and beyond

For assistance with the I Have A Plan Iowa™ website contact Iowa College Aid at 877-272-4456 or


Labor Market Information’s Career Planners & Job Seekers Reference Guide

The Labor Market Information’s Career Planners & Job Seekers Reference Guide is your starting point for planning the career or finding the job that fits your profile. Inside this guide you will find essential websites or tools aimed at directing your career or job path towards professional fulfillment. Arranged alphabetically by topic, career planners and job seekers have at their fingertips a host of website information waiting to be explored. Topics ranging from apprenticeships and career exploration to educational resources and volunteerism with much in between are included to organize your journey (Iowa Workforce Development’s IWIN page at is a terrific starting point!). This edition has added and/or expanded upon many topics including “Cover Letter Writing,” “Social Media,” “Special Needs,” and “Youth Development/Young Adult Employment & Transition Programs” in a continual effort to provide the user with critical, current website information. Upon discovery you will no doubt come across additional information not included in this directory that is beneficial. Whatever your destination, choose to use this guide and become a well-informed and enlightened career planner and/or job seeker. As a caveat, and despite periodic updates, websites do and will continue to change with little warning. In addition, this publication does not endorse any mentioned resource nor claim to be an all-inclusive or universal document. Rather, as a condensed sampling of available resources (including non-profit, for-profit, government, etc.), it serves as a starting point for the career planner and/or job seeker. Ample beneficial information is provided.

Iowa Career Resource Guide

The documents in the following resource guide are a career - planning tool for students of all ages looking to upgrade their current skills and knowledge, or for students who desire a specific pathway toward certification, diploma or associate degree.

    Iowa Career Resource Guide - Part 1 Iowa Career Resource Guide - Part 1
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 2 Iowa Career Resource Guide - Part 2
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 3 Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 3
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 4 Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 4
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 5 Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 5
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 6 Iowa Career Resource Guide Part 6
    Iowa Career Resource Guide Acknowledgements Iowa Career Resource Guide Acknowledgements

Career Clusters

Career Clusters represents a distinct grouping of occupations and industries based on the knowledge and skills they require. The 16 Career Clusters and related Career Pathways provide an important organizing tool for schools to develop more effective programs of study (POS) and curriculum.

Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources - The production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of agricultural commodities and resources including food, fiber, wood products, natural resources, horticulture, and other plant and animal products/resources.

Architecture & Construction - Careers in designing, planning, managing, building and maintaining the built environment.

Arts, A/V Technology & Communications - Designing, producing, exhibiting, performing, writing, and publishing multimedia content including visual and performing arts and design, journalism, and entertainment services.

Business Management & Administration - Careers in planning, organizing, directing and evaluating business functions essential to efficient and productive business operations.

Education & Training - Planning, managing and providing education and training services, and related learning support services such as administration, teaching/training, administrative support, and professional support services.

Finance - Planning and related services for financial and investment planning, banking, insurance, and business financial management.

Government & Public Administration - Planning and executing government functions at the local, state and federal levels, including governance, national security, foreign service, planning, revenue and taxation, and regulations.

Health Science - Planning, managing, and providing therapeutic services, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services, and biotechnology research and development.

Hospitality & Tourism - Preparing individuals for employment in career pathways that relate to families and human needs such as restaurant and food/beverage services, lodging, travel and tourism, recreation, amusement and attractions.

Human Services - Preparing individuals for employment in career pathways that relate to families and human needs such as counseling and mental health services, family and community services, personal care, and consumer services.

Information Technology - Building linkages in IT occupations for entry level, technical, and professional careers related to the design, development, support and management of hardware, software, multimedia and systems integration services. 

Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security - Planning, managing, and providing legal, public safety, protective services and homeland security, including professional and technical support services.

Manufacturing - Planning, managing and performing the processing of materials into intermediate or final products and related professional and technical support activities such as production planning and control, maintenance and manufacturing/process engineering.

Marketing - Planning, managing, and performing marketing activities to reach organizational objectives such as brand management, professional sales, merchandising, marketing communications and market research.

Mathematics - Planning, managing, and providing scientific research and professional and technical services (e.g., physical science, social science, engineering) including laboratory and testing services, and research and development services.

Transportation, Distribution & Logistics - The planning, management, and movement of people, materials, and goods by road, pipeline, air, rail and water and related professional and technical support services such as transportation infrastructure planning and management, logistics services, mobile equipment and facility maintenance.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 25, 2016 at 3:14am.