Skip to main content
Career Planning

Career Planning

All Albemarle County high school students will graduate with a Career Plan. With the support of school counselors and career specialists, students will develop and refine their career plan through the 4-year planning process. The plan allows students to:

  • Establish short-term and long-term education/career goals;
  • Assess personal interests as they relate to career decisions;
  • Formulate thoughtful educational plans that reflect rigorous academics in their chosen career directions;
  • Participate in electives, extra-curricular activities, and community service projects supporting their career directions; and
  • Include internships or cooperative work experiences during grades 11 and/or 12.

How Do I Start Making a Career Plan?

It might sound like a huge task to plan your whole career; but if we understand that everything can be done systematically, then it won’t turn into a hassle in the end. According to research, these are the four main pillars and units of career planning:

Learn more about you; be clear about your likes, dislikes, values, personality, and learning style.
Find out more about the careers that interest you— about the output of these careers and what the working situations will be like.
Make a Fit
Match your skills with the career that best suits you and your skill sets.
Create a Plan
Craft a whole plan that includes finding an educational program, selection of a school, financial aid, resumé preparation, standardized admission tests, and interviewing techniques.

Adapted from Career Planning Tools at

Career Planning Activities

As students mature, change, and develop new skills, they may modify their career plan to reflect their new interests and goals. The career interest inventories and activities the students complete during high school utilize the 16 career clusters from the Virginia Department of Education.

9th Grade
Personal goal setting, career pathways survey (registration), curriculum expo, career plan update, year-end review
10th Grade
Personal goal setting, career pathways survey (registration), curriculum expo, career plan update, interest inventory, career fair, year-end review
11th Grade
Personal goal setting, internship/ CTE co-op experience, resume workshop, curriculum expo, career plan update, college and career prep workshop, year-end review
12th Grade
Personal goal review, internship/ CTE co-op experience, finalize college and career plans workshop, finalize resume, career plan update, exit survey
All Grades
Outside learning experiences: clubs, sports, job shadowing, community service, part-time/summer job, student government, internship, teacher cadet

Virginia's 16 Career Clusters

Career Clusters are groupings of occupations and broad industries based on commonalities. They help students investigate careers and design their courses of study to advance their career goals.

Virginia has adopted the nationally accepted structure of career clusters, career pathways, and sample career specialties or occupations. Within each career cluster, there are multiple career pathways that represent a common set of skills and knowledge, both academic and technical, necessary to pursue a full range of career opportunities within that pathway, ranging from entry level to management, including technical and professional career specialties.

Virginia's 16 Career Clusters include:

For more information about Virginia's pathways to college and career readiness, including student and parent resources, visit the Virginia Department of Education's Career Clusters site.

Plans of Study

Plans of study provide successful student transitions between secondary and postsecondary education. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) provides Sample Plans of Study aligned to the National Career Clusters framework. This resource is designed to assist Career and Technical Education administrators and school counselors in developing student academic and career plans of study for each pathway within a career cluster. Sample plans provided by the VDOE meet all state and federal requirements.

Please note: The VDOE's sample plans of study do not include Freshman Seminar, which is a required course for all ninth-grade ACPS students.

Creativity and Career Planning

A well-rounded high school program involves the careful planning of electives. The 21st century workplace requires new multi-disciplinary and creative ways of thinking about problem solving and managing knowledge. Thus, we suggest that students think creatively about how a variety of electives, especially in the areas of art, business, engineering, and human relations, can support their career goals. Remember, creativity is the key to success in the 21st century!

Get Acrobat PDF Reader You may need the free Acrobat Reader to access information presented in PDF format.