Learn About Being a Direct Support Professional

What Does a Direct Support Professional Do?

Direct support professionals assist people across a broad spectrum of physical or cognitive disabilities with everyday tasks such as personal care, housekeeping, transportation, socialization and other non-medical services. They may also train clients to develop life skills and increase their level of independence. Additional responsibilities include:

  • Provide supervision and guidance for residents during skills building activities.
  • Develop and implement individual treatment plans for residents.
  • Assist with daily living activities, including preparing meals and assisting with personal hygiene.
  • Develop a rapport with residents and cultivate a safe and supportive relationship.
  • Update resident case notes on a daily basis.
  • Ensure an appropriate staff-to-client ratio at all times.



Typical Salary

Common salary in US: $11.05 hourly
Typical salaries range from $8.37 – $14.59 hourly
Find more information on Indeed Salary

Common Skills and Requirements

  • High school diploma/GED required
  • 2+ years’ experience providing direct care to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Valid driver’s license
  • No previous criminal record
  • Current First Aid and CPR certification
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal and communication skills
  • Compassionate about the care and well-being of others
  • Ability to pass a background check and drug test

How to Become a Direct Support Professional

Here are five steps you can take to begin a career in direct support:

  1. Gain the necessary education
  2. While there is no national requirement to become a design engineer, most employers require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED). In addition to educational requirements, most employers also prefer direct support professionals are certified in First Aid and CPR, or hold a certificate from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).

  3. Develop the appropriate hard skills
  4. To prepare for a career as a direct support professional, you should be comfortable using word processing programs and spreadsheets, and have the ability to complete basic data entry. Most direct support positions also require a working knowledge of common physical and cognitive disabilities. Some direct support roles also require you to have the physical strength to lift and move clients who are physically challenged.

  5. Build your soft skills
  6. To become a successful direct support professional you should build skills in interpersonal communication, time management and active listening. You should also be empathetic, respectful and organized.

  7. Find a mentor
  8. To ensure this is the best career path for you and help you network and meet other caregiving professionals, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced direct support professional and ask for their mentorship. This person can share their experiences, connect you with potential job opportunities and provide guidance and advice as you begin your new career.

  9. Prepare for your interview
  10. Before you interview for a job as a direct support professional, take time to prepare a few talking points. When speaking with employers, it’s important to highlight your relevant soft skills such as attention to detail, organization, dependability, compassion and integrity. You should also prepare to discuss how you’ve used your skills to help others in the past.

Working as a direct support professional offers you the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives, and following these steps can help you launch a rewarding new career.

Example Direct Support Professional Job Description

Our organization strongly believes that every individual deserves the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential. At the present time, we are looking for an experienced individual to fill the role of Direct Support Professional. The right candidate will be responsible for providing compassionate care and assistance to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If you have prior experience working with developmentally disabled adults in a direct care role, we encourage you to apply for this position.

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