Direct Support Professional: A Trifecta of Love, Career and Money

Direct Support Professional:

A Trifecta of Love, Career and Money

Author: 1st Choice Family Services


Forging long-lasting relationships


Becoming a Direct Service Professional (DSP) is something not many people know about. Despite the lack of recognition, choosing to become a DSP can be one of the best decisions you could make. It is a career that can help you become a better person and make a difference in the lives of others.

DSPs provide care and assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities (DD). They guide them through their daily activities and help them overcome challenges related to living with disabilities. A DSP performs many tasks to ensure these individuals have a better quality of life. This includes, but is not limited to:  teaching life skills, providing a safe living environment and helping with daily tasks. Some examples are keeping sharp items in locked drawers and storing household cleaners in secured cabinets. A DSP also helps with things like cooking, cleaning, showering, bathroom care, shopping and managing money.

DSPs help their clients become more independent and more confident by helping them unlock new skills that they never knew they had. DSPs and those with DD often feel a great sense of accomplishment when completing new tasks.

DSPs also understand their clients’ behavior and emotions. Their day-to-day work has a strong impact on the individuals they assist. It is important for a DSP to understand the different behaviors and emotions of their clients to assist with establishing a more personal approach for activities.

DSP work is not only about helping clients with their daily tasks, it is also about forging a long-lasting relationship with them and their families. You will become the person your clients look forward to meeting with, playing with and speaking with. You may not realize it at first, but you will become the reason behind their smiles, and they will be your reason for happiness too. As a DSP, you will be the person they look up to, who gives them a reason to not give up on themselves and who can help them thrive in their environment.

So, if you are someone who enjoys helping individuals and learning about human behavior, a career as a DSP is a good fit. Working as a DSP brings a unique sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that you won’t find in other jobs. In the long run, you will notice that developing relationships with your clients, witnessing their progress, and making a difference in their lives will all play into the enjoyment of direct support work.



DSP work is a lifetime career path


Working as a direct support professional requires ongoing training throughout the span of your career. DSPs provide personalized care to clients who usually have medical situations that require a specific type of training. For example, DSPs are often responsible for medication administration, maintenance of patients’ progress records, monitoring individuals’ behavior and ensuring clients’ wellness.

Becoming a DSP is a great way to launch a career in healthcare, social work, human services, counseling, and related fields. You can experience working with clients directly, learning industry terminology and regulations, and getting valuable training. Typically, you will also receive certification for medication administrations, first aid, CPR, disability support and other skills related to human services.

For this reason, many individuals find DSP work to be rewarding and view it as a great job. At present, the demand for direct support workers is projected to grow even more in the coming years, making it an important lifetime career path.

Another vital key to career advancement is choosing the best agency that can offer a clear vision of organizational growth.  Sustainability is also important to review at DSP agencies.

Just like any career choice, it is necessary to take a look at all options when choosing an organization you want to work with now and in the future.

Other things to consider when choosing a direct support agency include recognition for potential, hard work and dedication. You might also want to align with an agency that values organizational development.

Here is a list of possible careers that a DSP can pursue after years of experience in the direct support role:


  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Program Coordinator
  • Counselor
  • Mental Health Technician
  • Registered Nurse Supervisor
  • Administrator
  • Team Leader
  • Executive Assistant
  • Therapist
  • Case Manager
  • Program Director
  • Director of Social Services
  • Patient Care Manager
  • Medical Case Manager
  • Clinical Director
  • Residential Program Director


DSP work is financially stable


Job satisfaction is a top priority among individuals looking for a new career. However, it is also vital to consider financial stability just as much as happiness. Money funds your daily needs and necessities but there is a constant struggle between wanting to do a job you love and having money to pay rent.

Many people still choose job satisfaction over money, so one might question, why go through all of this if there is a job that answers both categories.

Unlike other jobs, working as a DSP brings not just the basic salary but also the perks that no other industries can offer. You are helping develop individuals with developmental disabilities, bringing you a pay check for the self-satisfaction you receive.

“The national average salary for a direct support professional in the United States is $26,985 per year or $13 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $11,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $64,000,” as stated in

Furthermore, a DSP does not only enjoy the pay provided for services rendered. An agency may be generous with bonuses, paid trips, paid recreational activities with the clients and even team-building travels.