As an advocate who has attended hundreds of IEP meetings, IEP transition time is one of the most frustrating times for me. I find a lot of predetermination from IEP teams as far as what the student will do as an adult.

And as far as transition IEP goals, I find a lot of copying and pasting of meaningless goals into IEPs. Transition time is the most important time for your student. Vocational IEP goals are one small part of this.

A construction worker wearing a yellow hard hat and plaid shirt is standing with crossed arms next to an electrical panel on a construction site, embodying vocational IEP goals.

If your student does not have meaningful vocational IEP goals, then they will not receive supports and services in that domain.

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Yes, there are things like vocational job coaches for disabled adults. But, most people agree that school age services are far superior to adult services. You want to maximize what your child will receive and what is appropriate for them.

And that starts with meaningful job readiness goals, if the student is expecting to enter the workplace when they leave school.

A worker in protective gear uses an angle grinder on a metal piece to achieve Vocational IEP Goals while another person observes in the background of an industrial setting.

Getting and Keeping a Job Goals

To have a job, you have to first get a job. And that’s not something that comes naturally to everyone.

As always, to make a skill or task a measurable IEP goal, put it in the IEP goal formula with the student’s specific details.

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Worksheet for setting transportation and safety IEP goals.

Here are some skills needed by adults if they want to get and keep a job.

  1. Academic Skills: By [specific date], the student will independently apply study strategies (e.g., note-taking, summarizing) to improve comprehension and retention of academic material in [specific subject(s)] courses.
  2. Time Management: By [specific date], the student will use a planner or digital organizer to manage assignments, deadlines, and appointments, with at least 80% accuracy, as measured by teacher observation.
  3. Self-Advocacy: By [specific date], the student will confidently communicate their disability-related needs to professors, advisors, and support staff, as demonstrated by participating in at least two meetings independently.
  4. Social Skills: By [specific date], the student will actively engage in at least one extracurricular activity or social group related to their interests, demonstrating effective communication and social interaction skills.
  5. Independent Living Skills: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate proficiency in managing personal finances, including budgeting, banking, and paying bills, as evidenced by completing a financial literacy course or simulation.
  6. Technology Skills: By [specific date], the student will utilize assistive technology tools (e.g., screen readers, speech-to-text software) to facilitate access to course materials and complete assignments independently.
  7. Career Exploration: By [specific date], the student will research at least three potential career paths aligned with their interests, strengths, and abilities, and create a plan outlining steps to pursue their chosen career.
  8. Employment Skills: By [specific date], the student will develop a resume and practice interview skills, including dressing appropriately, maintaining eye contact, and responding to questions confidently.
  9. Community Engagement: By [specific date], the student will participate in volunteer or internship opportunities related to their career interests, demonstrating responsibility and reliability in completing assigned tasks.
  10. Health and Wellness: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, and self-care practices.
  11. Transportation Skills: By [specific date], the student will independently navigate public transportation or utilize alternative transportation options to travel to and from campus, work, or community activities.
  12. Advocacy Skills: By [specific date], the student will identify at least two disability-related resources or support services available on campus and demonstrate how to access them independently.
  13. Goal Setting: By [specific date], the student will set and prioritize short-term and long-term goals related to academic, career, and personal development, and track progress towards achieving these goals.
  14. Conflict Resolution: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate effective conflict resolution skills in academic and social settings, including identifying issues, expressing concerns assertively, and seeking resolution collaboratively.
  15. Decision Making: By [specific date], the student will evaluate potential risks and consequences when making decisions related to academics, employment, relationships, and health, and demonstrate the ability to make informed choices.
  16. Accessing Support Services: By [specific date], the student will independently request and utilize accommodations and support services available through the Disability Services Office, as needed, to facilitate academic success.
  17. Executive Functioning: By [specific date], the student will develop strategies to improve executive functioning skills, such as organization, planning, task initiation, and time management, as evidenced by improved performance in academic and daily tasks.
  18. Cultural Competence: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity by participating in multicultural events, engaging in dialogue with peers from diverse backgrounds, and respecting cultural differences.
  19. Stress Management: By [specific date], the student will utilize at least two stress management techniques (e.g., deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation) to reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being during times of academic or personal stress.
  20. Graduation Planning: By [specific date], the student will develop a plan outlining the requirements and timeline for completing their degree program, including selecting courses, meeting graduation requirements, and preparing for post-graduation transition.
A chef in a striped apron is holding a large metal wok in one hand and a bottle of oil in the other, preparing to pour the oil into the wok as part of vocational I

Vocational Communication Goals

Here is a list of functional communication goals that will apply to vocational or workplace settings.

These will be necessary to learn as part of some student’s transition plans.

  1. Provide assistance to supervisors and co-workers when appropriate and seek the assistance of co-workers and supervisors when needed.
  2. Internalize and follow work schedules and obey work rules and regulations.
  3. Ask for needed work materials and equipment when they are not readily available.
  4. Inform the appropriate individual when he or she will be late or will be absent for work.
  5. Transmit messages to co-workers and supervisors when asked to do so.
  6. Share his or her thoughts and feelings with co-workers in simple conversational exchanges and express to co-workers and supervisors any concerns or grievances about work conditions, including safety and health factors.
  7. Discuss salary, fringe benefits, promotion, and other work related matters with supervisors.
  8. Provide appropriate information, including work history and qualifications, to a prospective employer in a job interview.
Two individuals in a casual setting focused on discussing Vocational IEP Goals, with one facing the camera with her back, and the other slightly blurred in the background facing her.

IEP Goals for Work Habits

Here are 15 Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals for work habits:

  1. Time Management: By [specific date], the student will independently prioritize tasks and allocate time effectively to complete assignments and projects in a timely manner.
  2. Task Initiation: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate improved ability to initiate tasks independently without excessive prompting or procrastination.
  3. Follow-Through: By [specific date], the student will consistently follow through on assigned tasks and responsibilities, completing them to the best of their ability and meeting established deadlines.
  4. Organization: By [specific date], the student will develop and maintain an organized workspace, including keeping materials and supplies in designated areas and utilizing organizational tools (e.g., folders, planners) effectively.
  5. Attention to Detail: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate improved attention to detail by accurately completing tasks with minimal errors and checking work for accuracy before submission.
  6. Task Persistence: By [specific date], the student will persist in completing challenging tasks or assignments, seeking assistance as needed and demonstrating resilience in the face of obstacles.
  7. Work Ethic: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate a strong work ethic by consistently putting forth effort and demonstrating initiative in their academic and vocational pursuits.
  8. Adaptability: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in response to changes in tasks, schedules, or work environments, adjusting their approach as needed to meet new requirements.
  9. Collaboration: By [specific date], the student will effectively collaborate with peers and colleagues, demonstrating respectful communication, active listening, and willingness to contribute to group goals.
  10. Problem-Solving: By [specific date], the student will develop and apply problem-solving strategies to overcome obstacles or challenges encountered in academic or vocational settings, seeking creative solutions to problems.
  11. Self-Reflection: By [specific date], the student will engage in self-reflection on their work habits and performance, identifying areas for improvement and setting goals for growth.
  12. Initiative: By [specific date], the student will take initiative to seek out additional tasks or responsibilities beyond what is assigned, demonstrating a proactive approach to their academic or vocational pursuits.
  13. Feedback Reception: By [specific date], the student will actively seek and accept constructive feedback on their work performance, incorporating suggestions for improvement into future tasks and projects.
  14. Workplace Safety: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate understanding and adherence to workplace safety protocols and procedures, minimizing risks of accidents or injuries.
  15. Professionalism: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate professionalism in their interactions and conduct, including punctuality, appropriate attire, and adherence to workplace norms and expectations.
Two individuals working on vocational IEP goals on a computer in an office environment with others in the background.
  1. The student will identify keywords found on employment applications and other simple blanks and forms, and provide the requested information.
  2. The student will locate and utilize written information found on bills, work time cards, check stubs, and store receipts.
  3. Pay by the due date, the correct amount for goods received and services obtained.
  4. Identify and verify gross pay, net pay, and deduction information found on paycheck stubs.
  5. Check store receipts to verify that they are correct and that any change received is also correct.
  6. Verify information found on work time cards.
  7. Print his or her name and write his or her signature.
  8. Write his or her parent’s names on a card/envelope
  9. Write the date in its various forms.
  10. Write his or her address on an envelope
  11. Write his or her age and birth date using numerals, abbreviations, and words.
  12. Will follow a familiar purchasing routine with assistance (without assistance).
  13. Will demonstrate socially acceptable behavior in the community
  14. Will use community services (post office, library, DMV, etc.) with assistance (without assistance)
  15. Will purchase items in a familiar store.
  16. Will participate in organized school or community service activities.
  17. Will shop for personal clothing items knowing their own sizes.
  18. Correctly address envelopes, postcards, and packages to be mailed
  19. Write shopping and other lists
  20. Identify keywords, abbreviations, and symbols (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME, MAIDEN NAME, M.I.; ADDRESS; DATE; HOME TELEPHONE #, WORK TELEPHONE #; BIRTHDATE; SOCIAL SECURITY #; SEX – M OR F; MARITAL STATUS – M, S, W, OR D; PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT RECORD; PARENTS’ NAMES; REFERENCES; ACCOUNT NUMBERS; DEPOSIT; WITHDRAWAL; CASH; etc.) found on employment applications, deposit and withdrawal slips, checks, mail order forms, and other simple blanks and forms and provide the requested information.
  21. Identify the skills required in job descriptions and/or brochures.
  22. Locate the help wanted section of newspapers and identify job offerings appropriate to his or her interests, needs, and skills.
  23. Identify common abbreviations used in the help wanted sections of newspapers and determine what they mean.
  24. Locate job announcement information found on business bulletin boards, in work pamphlets, at state and local job banks, and at employment agencies.
  25. Obtain a job application form and identify keywords that request personal data information, including name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, and birth date.
  26. Obtain and review all job-related brochures and forms, including health insurance, pension information, holiday schedules, and other components in an employee benefits package.
  27. Use a calendar to identify workdays and holidays when he or she does not have to go to work.
  28. Follow a daily wake-up schedule that makes it possible for him or her to wash, dress, and groom him- or herself and be ready for work on time.
  29. Identify time by the hour, half-hour, and other intervals, on clocks and watches, to be prepared to leave for work on time.
  30. Select the type of clothing and accessories needed from a specially prepared work-clothing list for specific jobs.
  31. Locate the number of his employer or employer representative in his or her personal telephone directory and call that person if unable to report to work or when he or she will be late.
  32. Follow directions on the time clock and time card and verify the time card after punching in and out to make certain it had been correctly stamped.
  33. Identify work clothing, shop coats, and other personal items by nametags and labels.
  34. Obey health rules pertinent to his or her job.
  35. Obey safety rules pertaining to his or her job.
  36. Follow the directions and safety instructions on flammable and other dangerous substances with which he or she works.
  37. Follow posted directions and routing signs for fire escape procedures and use them during a fire emergency and fire drill.
  38. Follow the operating and safety instructions for electric tools, appliances, and machinery used on the job.
  39. Locate signs leading to the supervisor, nurse, or other significant persons’ offices and go there when necessary.

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