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What is a Direct Support Specialist

Direct support specialists provide proper care and assistance to people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. They work in various types of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities, but may also provide home health care.

The responsibilities of a direct support specialist revolve around helping patients meet their basic needs, including bathing, eating, dressing, and moving around. However, providing care often involves so much more than that. Hence, direct support specialists are also responsible for doing light housekeeping, planning meals, accompanying patients to appointments, and encouraging self-help activities. Furthermore, they are also responsible for coordinating with patients' other providers to ensure proper care and service.

When hiring for this role, employers require a high school diploma and a valid driver's license. Some may also require related work experience, but this is not always the case. Moreover, employers look for candidates that are compassionate, patient, highly communicable, and have a basic understanding of patient care. A good level of physical fitness is also a common prerequisite for this job, as it requires a lot of pushing, lifting, bending, and doing housework.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Direct Support Specialist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $15.12 an hour? That's $31,455 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 36% and produce 1,185,800 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Direct Support Specialist Do

There are certain skills that many Direct Support Specialists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed Detail oriented, Integrity and Physical stamina.

Learn more about what a Direct Support Specialist does

How To Become a Direct Support Specialist

If you're interested in becoming a Direct Support Specialist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 43.8% of Direct Support Specialists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 3.8% of Direct Support Specialists have master's degrees. Even though some Direct Support Specialists have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a Direct Support Specialist. When we researched the most common majors for a Direct Support Specialist, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Associate Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Direct Support Specialist resumes include High School Diploma degrees or Diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Direct Support Specialist. In fact, many Direct Support Specialist jobs require experience in a role such as Cashier. Meanwhile, many Direct Support Specialists also have previous career experience in roles such as Customer Service Representative or Certified Nursing Assistant.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. The Mosaic Company Jobs (31)
  2. Arc-com Jobs (11)
  3. Frontier Health Jobs (33)
  4. Strawberry Fields Jobs (10)
  5. RHA Health Services Jobs (9)
Average Salary
$31,455
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
36%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
103,467
Job Openings
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Direct Support Specialist Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Direct Support Specialist

Direct Support Specialists in America make an average salary of $31,455 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $42,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $23,000 per year.
Average Salary
$31,455
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5 Direct Support Specialist Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Direct Support Specialist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Direct Support Specialist resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Direct Support Specialist Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. The Mosaic Company Jobs (31)
  2. Arc-com Jobs (11)
  3. Frontier Health Jobs (33)
  4. Strawberry Fields Jobs (10)
  5. RHA Health Services Jobs (9)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Direct Support Specialist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Direct Support Specialist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Direct Support Specialist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Direct Support Specialist Demographics

Direct Support Specialist Gender Distribution

Male
Male
28%
Female
Female
72%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among Direct Support Specialists, 72.3% of them are women, while 27.7% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Direct Support Specialists is White, which makes up 66.5% of all Direct Support Specialists.

  • The most common foreign language among Direct Support Specialists is Spanish at 65.5%.

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Direct Support Specialist Education

Direct Support Specialist Majors

14.4 %

Direct Support Specialist Degrees

Bachelors

43.8 %

Associate

23.8 %

High School Diploma

17.5 %
Job Openings

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Online Courses For Direct Support Specialist That You May Like

Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability: Circles of Care and Education
coursera

This course is about caring for and educating children (and youth) with severe to profound intellectual disability. We use the idea of 'circles' to position the child at the center of the many levels of support needed. Around the child are circles of care and education - such as the parents, family, friends, caregivers, educators, health care workers and others such as neighbors, business owners and community members. Each one has an important role to play in the life of a person with an intelle...

Through My Eyes - Intellectual Disability Healthcare around the World
edX (Global)

This health course focuses on the stories of people with intellectual disabilities around the world, as well as their families and supporters. You will learn about the challenges and aid received in healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities, including their experience of specific syndromes and communication difficulties, and how they stay healthy. Learners will also hear from family members as they discuss complex care, rare syndromes, early death, and planning for independence. The...

Able-Minded - Mental Health and People with Intellectual Disability
edX (Global)

This health course will focus on the mental health issues of people with intellectual disability. You will learn about the complexities of diagnosing mental health issues in people with intellectual disabilities and the types of disorders, assessments, screenings, and treatments used. There will also be a special focus on the legal and ethical complexities in health practice with patients who often require substituted consent. This course is open to anyone, but will be of particular relevance...

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Top Skills For a Direct Support Specialist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 17.2% of Direct Support Specialists listed Mental Health on their resume, but soft skills such as Detail oriented and Integrity are important as well.

1. Massachusetts

Total Direct Support Specialist Jobs:
2,463
Highest 10% Earn:
$49,000
Location Quotient:
1.76
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Maine

Total Direct Support Specialist Jobs:
304
Highest 10% Earn:
$42,000
Location Quotient:
1.5
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Nevada

Total Direct Support Specialist Jobs:
428
Highest 10% Earn:
$46,000
Location Quotient:
1.34
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Direct Support Specialists

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Top Direct Support Specialist Employers

Most Common Employers For Direct Support Specialist

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Direct Support Specialist SalaryAverage Salary
1
1.Star Service
$32,417
2$30,617
3$30,533
4
4.Bethesda Lutheran Homes & Services
$29,992
5
5.Marten House Hotel & Lilly Conference Center
$29,897
6
6.Sl Start and Associates
$29,883

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