What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Direct Support Professional?


The demand for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) continues to grow. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities need someone in their lives in order to remain independent and safe at home. DSPs will provide assistance and instruction on completing tasks that most people take for granted. A DSP will help their clients with everyday tasks such as preparing meals, going to appointments and running errands. You may also be responsible for helping your client to take medication and maintain medical records. 

Currently, there are no formal education requirements for becoming a DSP, but many need some training. Depending on the client, you may need CPR certification. Most agencies will do a background check and help provide on-the-job training specific to your client. You may find some training through the Red Cross and local hospitals to be helpful and give you an edge when you seek employment. 

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Direct Support Professional? 

In addition to helping their clients with daily skills, a DSP will help remove safety hazards. For example, keeping sharp knives in a locked drawer or household cleaning products in a locked cabinet. A DSP will also help teach clients life skills. This is a broad term that’s used to describe any skills needed to make the most out of life. Life skills may include tying shoelaces, cooking or swimming.  

Other life skills that are important include communication, decision making, self-awareness, and resilience. A Direct Support Professional works with individuals who have developmental disabilities, so helping support resilience, or the ability to recover from setbacks and treat them as opportunities, is an important skill set. This may include offering emotional support and crisis intervention.  

A Direct Support Professional is a mandatory reporter. In other words, they must report instances of any suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation. You are responsible to report this to your supervisor who will help identify the proper agency contact information in your area if you suspect abuse or neglect. 

What Education, Training or Certification Is Required? 

In most cases, a high school education is required. You can also increase your value to a new hiring agency when you have a CPR certification. While there are no mandatory certifications for DSPs, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has a national certification program that demonstrates a DSP has met certification standards and is another advantage when applying for a job as a Direct Support Professional.  

The NADSP believes there is anecdotal evidence that suggests those who have completed the credential program will stay in their jobs longer and experience a greater sense of satisfaction working with their clients. 

Are Your Ready to Be a DSP? 

This is one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever hold. You have the pleasure of helping someone stay home and live well. It’s also one of the more challenging jobs you’ll hold – you’ll likely never be bored! Call our recruiters today – and let’s get started! 

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