NC State Extension Publications

Career Exploration in Preschool

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Young children express early career preferences based on what they see and hear. Some children visit mom’s or dad’s workplace; some visit a grandparent’s office or the workplace of a friend of yours. After these visits, they may ask questions. Your answers will help them understand more about jobs and careers. Not all children at this age have career ideas or can talk about them; however, they do actually understand the concept of work. Providing a supportive environment for them to ask questions and learn about careers is key.

How can you do this?

(1) Talk to preschoolers about what adults do at work. Ways to do this include the following:

  • Take children to work and show them what you do;

  • Talk about what you enjoy;

  • Talk about different careers related to your job;

  • Talk about what your adult friends do at work;

  • Ask children what they think your friends enjoy about their job;

  • Take children to your friends’ places of work to learn what they do and enjoy.

(2) Read books about careers and successful habits such as perseverance.

  • Future Baby Series Books by Lori Alexander

  • What do people do all day? by Richard Scarry

  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

  • The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

  • What can I be? STEM careers from A to Z by Tiffani Teachey

(3) Take career-friendly field trips.

  • Go to the zoo, museums, an aquarium, or a fire station. Talk about what each of the people working there does. Call ahead and ask for some of the employees to come talk with your child about their jobs.

  • Be creative! Take field trips to the bakery and the farmers market. Phone ahead and ask your child’s pediatrician or dentist to talk about their career during an appointment. Let your child ask the questions.

(4) Pay attention to skills and interests. Then, help children find activities and take field trips to explore them.

  • If your child enjoys building things, encourage play with blocks or Legos.

  • Take trips to construction sites: homes, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, and other sites.

  • Visit an architect’s or civil engineer’s office.

  • Talk about adult careers related to each activity and trip.


Skip to References


Regents Professor & Extension Parenting Specialist
Human Development & Family Science -- Oklahoma State University
Human Development & Family Science -- Oklahoma State University
Assistant Professor & Human Development and Family Science Extension Specialist
Agricultural Education & Human Sciences

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Publication date: Feb. 7, 2022

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