If you are currently in college, are looking to earn some extra money and you enjoy working closely with people, you may want to look into becoming a direct support professional (DSP) while completing your degree. DSPs are one of the few entry-level social services roles that interact directly with clients, and the job can be an attractive option for those who are ready to dive headfirst into a healthcare career. Your job can be extremely rewarding—DSPs can make an incredible difference in the lives of their clients, helping them to become successful members of the community.

What Does a Direct Support Professional Do?

Direct support professionals work closely with people of all ages who may have mental, developmental and physical disabilities, supporting them to become integrated and engaged members in their community. You can help equip your client with the life skills and habits they need to succeed in their community. Some of your duties may include:

  • Performing housekeeping tasks including vacuuming, washing dishes, and cleaning;
  • Helping clients with grocery shopping and meal preparation;
  • Helping your client to plan appointments, organize their schedule and arrange transportation;
  • Helping clients interact within their community and social network.

What Qualities/Skills Does A Direct Support Professional Need?

Sensitivity and compassion are key for this position. You’ll need strong interpersonal and communication skills, and you should be knowledgable in the practice of empathy, patience and understanding. More importantly, you’ll be building relationships – with your clients, their families, and other co-workers and their clients. Other qualities and skills you’ll need:

  • Reliability;
  • Creativity;
  • Attention to detail;
  • A willingness to learn;
  • Valid first aid and CPR certification;
  • Valid driver’s license.

You Can Start Your New Career While Still Pursuing an Education

Most employers require a high school diploma (or equivalent), but there are no formal education requirements to become a direct support professional. In fact, you can start your career in the field even while completing your credentials. Plenty of employers (including Home Based Community Services), will be interested in fostering your career and investing in your future with the organization. Completing your education and earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field while working as a DSP will help you to move up the career ladder more quickly. Other benefits:

  • A job as a DSP offers a student tons of flexibility, allowing you to complete your classes while working;
  • Experience in the field will put you ahead when you start applying for grad school;
  • You’ll have references in your field when you graduate – helping you to stand out as a potential employee.

Why Wait?

If you’re a student preparing to enter the social services field, there’s no reason to wait to start your career. Join an organization like Home Based Community Services as a Direct Support professional. Not only is it a great place to start if you’re considering a future career in healthcare, nursing, or social work, it will offer you an opportunity to earn cash while providing the flexibility you need to continue your education. Think you’re ready to apply? Check out our current opportunities!