Why More People Should Consider a Career as a Direct Support Professional

Why More People Should Consider a Career as a Direct Support Professional

Author, Aonist Coles


It was stated by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals that about one million new  Direct Support Professional (DSP) positions will be available to be filled by 2022 in the United States alone. Given the demand in this career path and the fulfillment it brings, this article aims to show you why a career as a DSP is one you should consider.


Who is a Direct Support Professional?


A Direct Support Professional is one that provides support and help to individuals with learning and developmental disabilities. It is a job that focuses on helping these individuals to live fulfilling and rich lives despite their disabilities.  As you might have guessed, this job requires that the professionals are tender, compassionate, and willing to help individuals whose behaviors can range anywhere from erratic to heartbreaking. In addition to these personality traits, a DSP also undergoes a certification program that equips them with practical skills utilized in working with these individuals.


Photo Taken by Jade Gattis



Benefits: Why Should You Become a Direct Service Professional?


The challenges that come with being a DSP are always emphasized much more than the benefits. This is done such that many individuals who would make excellent Direct Service Professionals fail to see all the benefits that come with being a DSP, despite the great need in the society and the emotional and financial rewards it can bring. The benefits that come with being a DSP are myriad, they include:

  1. Get Paid to Create Long-Lasting Relationships: Perhaps, the most significant benefits of a career as a DSP are the emotional ones. Working with an individual closely, seeing them at their lowest, celebrating them at their highest, and being there through all their struggles and stumbles are the very things that forge relationships. A DSP gets the chance to do this every day at work.One beautiful thing about this is that you get paid while you build these relationships.
  2. The Joy of Aiding Growth and Development: This is another emotional benefit of a career as a DSP. It is always a joy to watch things move through phases and grow to become established.  Being an integral part of the process brings even greater joy. This is what a DSP gets to re-live every time a client reaches a milestone, achieves a goal or acquires the ability to do something that couldn’t previously be done. The joy, happiness, and exhilaration that comes is definitely an amazing benefit of the career.
  3. Flexible Working Hours: Another benefit that comes with the job is the flexibility of the work schedule that it affords. As a DSP you have the chance to delve into other interests and pursuits while still doing your job effectively. Do you need time to study for an exam? Learn how to trade stocks? Learn about cryptocurrency? Classes? Then a career as a DSP is the one for you. It gives you more time, and time is the greatest resource that we all have.
  4. Flexible and Free Wardrobe: So many jobs today require a particular dress code or at certain times even a uniform. You are however exempted from this particular constraint as a DSP. You can put on what you have and what you love, without the fear of contravening certain regulations. If you also love being dressed informally and free then this is the career for you. In fact, it has been considered better and more practical to show up as a DSP looking free and informal. The reasons include the nature of tasks and chores, as well as the need to keep the client relaxed. However, if you love formal wear, you can still put them on!

    Photo Taken by Jade Gattis

  5. Acquiring Peculiar Skills and Professional Experience: You acquire a lot of skills as a DSP professional. Aside from being thoroughly trained in areas like CPR, de-escalation techniques, first aid, fire safety, among several others; You will gain skills in social work as well as psychology. Being able to deal firsthand with the clients enables you gain insight about various medications. You acquire specialized knowledge about behaviors and peculiarities as well as skills in being able to identify the most suitable medication and doses to help bring out the best in your client. You also get to implement various plans and schedules highlighted by the doctor or counselor.These are skills that are usually taught for years in school. Fortunately, you can learn them easily as a DSP. While you might not be able to write prescriptions, you get to handle the most important part of the job which is helping your client gain independence.Apart from these, the nature of the DSP career usually includes the growth of domestic skills ranging from cooking all the way to nutrition. These, just like the earlier mentioned skills, are useful even in your personal life. If you are a student of psychology, sociology, nursing, and related disciplines, working as a DSP would provide you with valuable experiences that would help with your career field.
  6. Wide Range of Work Environment: A career as a DSP ensures that you don’t suffer the monotony of repeatedly working in one environment. You get to work with several people from different walks of life.As a DSP, you are provided with ample opportunities to work with a different set of clients each time. You are not subjected to boredom that could possibly result from working in the same place over and over again because there are always new clients. Secondly, different clients have different peculiarities. With each new client you get, you are able to gain more knowledge and insight as a DSP.
  7. Culture/Lifestyle: As a DSP, your work is fun. Your clients are like family because you see them at their best and worst. You help them improve, become better versions of themselves. This high is one that is found in very few careers. You also forge long lasting relationships with your co workers, your clients, and their families as you daily deal with real-life problems and motivate your client to be better. Working as a DSP also helps you to be more organized. This is because you’re exposed to specialized knowledge as well as growth opportunities that will help you become a better version of yourself. The real life experiences that you acquire as a DSP cannot be quantified. The fact that you offer relief to your client as well as their families gives a fulfillment that you can get in very few places. To your clients and their families, you’re extremely valuable and their hero.
  8. Financial Benefits: Working with an organized and perfectly structured DSP agency is all you need to advance your career as well as experience financial growth. You are exposed to a workplace that provides ample opportunity for financial growth. With a well-structured DSP agency, you are able to plan and build toward financial stability. Not all agencies are built equal. Some are junkyards and some are goldmines. Knowing exactly what to look out for will enable you to avoid the ‘junkyard’ agencies; despite the fact that there are way more junkyards than goldmines in the world today.



What You Need to Know to Choose the Best DSP Agency


New Hire Orientation


New hire orientation is very important for every workplace, company or agency. It is the process of giving out all important information new hires need to know about a particular company.

This is especially important because it is the foundational basis of working in such a company. “This is everything you need to get started at the company.” With this information, new hires can make major decisions about their goals and aspirations. Secondly, it facilitates productivity, adaptability as well as fosters good relationships between employees.

If a company has no orientation or a weak orientation process, it is an indication of weak policies within such a company. As a DSP, you need to be with a company with strong policies as this is usually one of the major indications of growth. Companies with weak or non-existent orientation should be avoided because their lack of growth will hamper your personal growth as well as limit your opportunities for career advancement.

Remember first impressions are often the best impressions and the most accurate representations.



Training Programs


Training programs are designed to equip new employees with the relevant skills knowledge and information that they will need to do the highest quality job.

Due to the delicateness of a DSP’s duties, each new hire should be thoroughly equipped in psychological and social skills, they need to know how to deal with difficult clients and manage aggression, track medication, document data required by the client’s doctor and counsellor, and encourage productivity to get the best possible output from the client. These aspects are usually taught during the training process and require that a DSP be extremely observant in all areas regarding client’s behavior and know how to handle difficult situations.

If a company has a short, low quality, or no training program, it will usually be an indication that the staff aren’t properly equipped to carry out their duties and this obviously means that the quality of the services of such company has been neglected.

As a Direct Support Professional, you are working with humans whose logic in some ways are different than the average persons. It takes a certain level of comprehensive training and understanding to properly assist a client.

A strong training program produces a strong work force and invariably a high-quality job by design, while a weak training program does the exact opposite. A company that has a reputation for providing high quality services can easily grow. As a Direct Support Professional, YOU WANT TO BE with a company that is growing. Growing companies are goldmines.

For example, at 1st Choice, our new hires go through weeks of mental preparation and training from certified instructors who are experts in client documentation and client services (ECS). This training usually runs for about 4 weeks.

It helps these new hires to properly deal with clients’ moods, track medications as well as learn how to work hand in hand with their psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists to implement any plans or process that will help the client reach independence. A company that has a good training program renders high quality services and encourages faster growth in their employees.



A Clear Picture and Opportunity for Advancement


A good DSP agency should have a clear opportunity for advancement. As a new hire, you should be able to make plans for the future based on opportunities that are available to you for growth in the company. Sustainability is very important.

When you look at the systems in place, you should be able to make inferences to growth processes and sustainability in that company. In the next 5 years, if you don’t see the company still existing or you don’t see yourself working with the company, this is a sign that your growth options are limited.

For example, at 1st Choice Family Services, our DSPs are able to get a clear picture of the type of opportunities that are available to them. Due to the exceptional nature of the service we offer, and the fact that this quality is instilled in every new DSP, we have a lot of potential for growth. Over the years, we have experienced speedy growth in organizational development. This growth has helped us spread to more locations. We are now presently located in 12 counties. Within the next few years, we hope to expand to all 88 counties. This means that there are a wide range of opportunities for our DSP staff to grow with us.

As we have illustrated in our 1st Choice example, growth opportunities like this is what you should be looking for in a DSP agency.



How to Become a Direct Service Professional


Having listed all the amazing reasons to become a Direct Service Professional, you are probably wondering how to get into the profession and what it takes to do so. Just like every other job, you will have to apply for a DSP job posting, as long as you have a high school diploma, at the very minimum, you are qualified to apply and be considered. Of course, there will be background checks and maybe interviews.

You also don’t need to worry about all the technical skills that were earlier listed, you will be trained on those by your employer. The implication is that it is pretty easy to become a DSP and you could become one today.




The demand for Direct Service Professionals is on the rise as well as the demand for more recognition. COVID-19 has ensured that the Direct Support Professional industry is booming! The DSP industry is now a major part of the new economy post COVID-19. Career, personal, and financial growth is imminent for the serious professionals who work in this field. Getting paid to genuinely impact and affect the life of another human in need, is like being paid to be the “Good Guy”. Why should you become a direct service professional? “Impact, Relationship, Time, and Experience”.