Hands holding a heart toy. Text says: "Direct Support Professionals: what do they do?"

What does a Direct Support Professional (DSP) do?

Many people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities require assistance in tasks like taking medication, cooking and eating, cleaning the house, and more. Direct Support Professionals, or DSPs, are the people who support them in these activities!

What activities do DSPs do?

DSPs provide support for many aspects of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They might…

  • Assist with daily living, including personal care, feeding, cooking, and cleaning
  • Keep individuals safe from hazards
  • Administer medication
  • Accompany individuals to and from appointments and activities
  • Help an individual volunteer, get a job, or see friends in the community

What skills make a good DSP?

  • Ability to keep calm and composed in difficult situations: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can’t always express themselves in ways that are easy to understand. It’s important to be able to remain calm and think through solutions even in stressful moments.
  • Dependability and punctuality: Being on-time is important both for coworkers and for the individuals we support. For most people (whether you have a disability or not!), a routine is key to staying balanced and comfortable.
  • Observant and intuitive: DSPs are the frontline of support for individuals, and often they are able to tell when something isn’t quite right. Even family members or doctors might not be able to notice when something is off, so it’s important that DSPs are keyed into what is normal and abnormal for the people they support.
  • Interpersonal skills and a strong sense of teamwork: Providing support for another person, sometimes around the clock, is a team-oriented task that requires a lot of coordination and flexibility. Being a DSP means being part of a team that must work smoothly and collaboratively!

What qualifications do I need to be a DSP?

Skills offers paid training for all Direct Support Professionals. Whether you’re a seasoned DSP or brand new to the field, we will provide the training you need to feel comfortable and prepared for the job. You’ll learn practical skills like CPR and fire safety, and you’ll also learn about person-centered thinking, and how to support individuals to the best of your ability.

  • Education: High school degree or GED is required for Skills and most agencies.
  • Experience: None needed to work at Skills! Our training will help you gain the competencies to do this job safely and compassionately.
  • Licensing: You’ll need a valid drivers’ license. Your job may include accompanying folks to their job, doctor’s appointments, social engagements, and other activities that require driving!
  • Voluntary Certification: Certification is available through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). It’s not required, but certification can increase your chances of being hired if you take this extra step.

A button that says "Apply Now"