Direct Support Specialist

Help disabled people make positive changes in their lives.
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Quick Stats

Very Good

Salary Range
$19,000 – $45,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Direct Support Specialists do?

People with mental illnesses or physical disabilities may have the desire and drive to change their lives, but they may lack the concrete planning skills to make those goals a reality. When this happens, a Direct Support Specialist can serve as a lifeline. The Direct Support Specialist can provide concrete tips and specific interventions, or link the person with helpful resources available in the community.

As a Direct Support Specialist, you start the process of intervention by interviewing the person to determine what they can do and what they want to change. Reading reports from their Doctor and Therapist may also be a useful way to obtain this information. Next, you put a plan together and write out a series of goals for the person.

In some cases, you put the plan in action yourself by holding classes or providing one-on-one instruction. People who need to learn to cook, clean, or prepare a budget may truly benefit from the care you provide in this hands-on manner.

Some problems are too large for you to handle alone, however. Issues with housing, health, education, or childcare are outside your realm of influence, but you can find classes and nonprofit agencies in the community that are designed to help with these problems. You set up appointments for the person, and follow up to make sure they’re getting the needed help.

Periodically, you write notes about the techniques you’re using and how the person is responding. The Program Manager or the person’s Doctor may want concrete proof that you’re doing your job and that the person is thriving under your care.

Should I be a Direct Support Specialist?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Helpful: You always keep an eye out for what other people need.

  • How to Become a
    Direct Support Specialist

    Most Direct Support Specialists have a Master's degree or a Bachelor's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:ipk9ja&chl=no+college+%2826%25%29|certificate+%2812%25%29|associate%27s+%288%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2847%25%29|master%27s+%287%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,26,47
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