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Career and Academic Planning


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Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 281-49 requires school districts to have an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) for each student in grades 8-12. In 2016, House File 2392 redesigned the career and academic planning process with increased emphasis on Career and Technical Education (CTE) shifting from the traditional career planning assessments and inventories to integrating high-quality, high-value, career-related experiences designed to increase student engagement and align students’ interests with local, regional and state labor market needs.

Years into the redesign, the career and academic planning process continues to seek student, parent, district and external stakeholder engagement to ensure information remains relevant and useful. The holistic nature ensures continuous feedback between internal and external stakeholders and ensures that students exhibit highly marketable employability skills and are prepared to successfully transition into higher education, training programs or directly into the workforce.

Career and Academic Planning Overview

Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP) Guidance

ICAP: Addition of Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Guidance

ICAP: Addition of Work-Based Learning Guidance

Career and Academic Planning News

Career and Academic Planning News is sent out quarterly and contains resources and professional development opportunities for school counselors, ICAP team members, and teachers that support academic and career planning.

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Meaningful Career Conversations Training Opportunity

The Meaningful Career Conversations training is a free event available to all school counselors, Intermediaries, community college advisors, work-based learning coordinators, mentors, teachers, administrators, after-school providers, coaches, librarians, school board members, STEM advisory boards or anyone who might have a career conversation with a student in the PK-20 system in Iowa. Iowa has trained Meaningful Career Conversation Facilitators who are able to provide this training to interested organizations across Iowa. To request a training, please complete the Meaningful Career Conversations Training Request form below.

Request a Meaningful Career Conversations Training

If you have connected with a training facilitator to provide the training to your organization, please have the facilitator complete the Facilitator Requested Meaningful Career Conversation form below or in the facilitator training document.

Facilitator Requested Meaningful Career Conversation Form

School District's Role

District Team

Each district should have an established district team that has developed a written career guidance plan and reviews it annually. Teams typically include, but are not limited to, an administrator, school counselor and teachers, including career and technical education teachers, special education educators, and individuals responsible for coordinating work-based learning activities.

The team ensures the district is using an approved Career Information System (CIS) and helps to determine what ICAP activities will be completed in each grade level to achieve the requirements of IAC 281-49.3.

DCAP: Team Evaluation Tool

District Plan

The district career and academic plan (DCAP) is a roadmap for implementation of the career and academic planning process and provides a living context for how each district supports their student’s ICAP process. The plan creates the framework for each student’s Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP).

The District Plan will be reviewed regularly to ensure individual student planning (ICAP) is implemented by the established District Career and Academic Planning Team. The team is designated by the District Superintendent and meets regularly to review and revise the district plan for ICAP implementation. The district plan is submitted to the Regional Planning Partnership each year and used in conjunction with district reporting.

Through the District Plan process, districts are encouraged to work to build and maintain strong relationships with external partners such as business and industry connections and postsecondary educational institutions to increase access to high-quality career planning for all of Iowa’s students.

2023-24 DCAP Template

District Tool: CIS

The district team is required to select one of the state approved CISs that best meets the needs of students, team members, and the school district. While the CIS is an essential component of the career planning process and has the capability of delivering all components, school districts are encouraged to continue using high-quality CTE curriculum and activities and to collaborate with external organizations that offer high-quality career planning opportunities.

State Approved CISs

The Iowa Department of Education reviews and approves CISs that support the requirements of IAC 281-49.3 and meet the minimum requirements identified in IAC 281-49.6(3). One of the approved systems will be awarded the “state designation” per IAC 281-49.6(2).

Approved CIS Vendor Approved until:
Career Coach Emsi Burning Glass June 30, 2025
Career Explorer Headed2 June 30, 2025
Defined Career Defined Learning, LLC June 30, 2025
I Have a Plan (IHAP) XAP June 30, 2025
intoCareers University of Oregon June 30, 2025
MaiaLearning MaiaLearning June 30, 2025
Major Clarity Major Clarity June 30, 2025
MAP Iowa State University June 30, 2025
Naviance* PowerSchoolGroup LLC June 30, 2025
Navigator Kuder June 30, 2025
Pathful Explore Pathful, Inc. June 30, 2025
SchooLinks SchooLinks June 30, 2025
Transeo Journey and College Transeo June 30, 2025
UpperCampus UpperCampus June 30, 2025
Xello Xello June 30, 3025
YouScience YouScience June 30, 2025
Approved Supplemental CIS Vendor Approved until:
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Department of Defense June 30, 2025

*State-designated CIS

CIS Vendor Application and Review

The Department has adopted an annual application and review cycle for CIS vendors. The application window is open annually from August 1 to October 31. Applications are reviewed from November 1 through January 31. Approved CISs are added to the approval list and available for use in the next academic year. The application for 2023 is open and available for submission prior to October 31. 


A visual representation of ICAP data reported on a yearly basis by school districts to the Department. ICAP completion is tracked in 8th through 12th grades. Users have the ability to filter, sort or download the data displayed.

Career Resources for ICAP

Professional Organizations