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Become A Direct Support Staff

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Working As A Direct Support Staff

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • $85,437

    Average Salary

What Does A Direct Support Staff Do

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.

Duties

Personal care aides typically do the following:

  • Care for and assist clients with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s or mental illness
  • Engage clients by talking to or playing games with them, or by taking them for walks
  • Help clients with hygiene-related tasks, such as bathing, brushing teeth, and going to the bathroom
  • Transfer clients to and from a bed or a wheelchair
  • Complete housekeeping tasks, such as changing bed linens, washing dishes, and cleaning living areas
  • Help prepare and plan meals
  • Assist with organizing a client’s schedule and schedule appointments
  • Arrange transportation to and from doctors’ offices or the store
  • Help clients pay bills or manage money
  • Shop for personal items and groceries
  • Assist clients in going to work and participating in their communities

Personal care aides—also called caregivers and personal attendants—help clients with self-care and daily activities. Personal care aides perform tasks that are similar to those of home health aides. However, personal care aides cannot provide any medical services, whereas home health aides may provide basic medical services.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals. They may also provide other personal assistance services.

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How To Become A Direct Support Staff

Most personal care aides are trained on the job. There are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, but most aides have a high school diploma.

Education

Although there are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, employers may prefer candidates with a high school diploma.

Training

Aides may be trained on the job by registered nurses, other personal care aides, or their direct employer. They are trained in specific tasks, such as how to work with a client who has a cognitive impairment and how to assist a client in preparing meals.

Most employers require aides to have training or certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Personal care aides must follow specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients. They must pay close attention to a client’s medical condition, quickly noting any changes that may require assistance from medical personnel.

Integrity. Personal care aides should make clients feel comfortable when the aides tend to personal activities, such as helping a client bathe. In addition, personal care aides must be dependable and trustworthy so that clients and their families can rely on them.

Interpersonal skills. Sometimes clients are in extreme pain or distress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be compassionate, and they must enjoy helping people.

Physical stamina. Personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They often need to lift or turn clients who have a disability.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Personal care aides may be required to complete a formal training program depending on the state where they work, and state laws vary widely in terms of the requirements that must be met. Some states and organizations may conduct background checks on prospective aides. A competency evaluation also may be required to ensure that the aide can perform certain tasks.

There are no federal training requirements for personal care aides. For specific state requirements, contact the state’s health board.

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Do you work as a Direct Support Staff?

Direct Support Staff Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Care Provider 2.5 years
Direct Care Aide 2.2 years
Direct Care Worker 2.1 years
Support Staff 2.0 years
Residential Aide 2.0 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 18.8%
Internship 4.8%
Teller 3.4%
Volunteer 3.1%
Server 2.9%
Waitress 2.4%
Top Employers After
Cashier 8.0%
Internship 5.0%
Teacher 2.9%
Server 2.8%
Manager 2.5%
Teller 2.3%

Do you work as a Direct Support Staff?

Direct Support Staff Demographics

Gender

Female

74.8%

Male

23.0%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

66.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.1%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.3%

French

9.3%

Italian

3.4%

Portuguese

3.4%

Yoruba

2.5%

Vietnamese

1.7%

Chinese

1.7%

German

1.7%

Hebrew

1.7%

Swahili

0.8%

Somali

0.8%

Hmong

0.8%

Bosnian

0.8%

Igbo

0.8%

Filipino

0.8%

Greek

0.8%

Carrier

0.8%

Ilocano

0.8%

Japanese

0.8%

Amharic

0.8%
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Direct Support Staff Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

13.6%

University of Wyoming

7.9%

Saint Cloud State University

6.9%

Ashford University

6.5%

University of Northern Iowa

6.5%

Fulton-Montgomery Community College

5.5%

Kaplan University

4.9%

Buena Vista University

4.3%

Community College of Rhode Island

4.3%

Winona State University

4.3%

Utah State University

4.1%

Middle Tennessee State University

3.7%

Marshall University

3.7%

Indiana State University

3.7%

Wayne State College

3.6%

Liberty University

3.6%

Capella University

3.4%

Grand Rapids Community College

3.2%

Grand Canyon University

3.2%

Utah Valley University

3.0%
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Majors

Psychology

10.9%

Nursing

10.8%

Business

10.7%

Criminal Justice

9.1%

Medical Assisting Services

8.5%

Social Work

6.6%

Health Care Administration

6.5%

Human Services

5.3%

General Studies

5.0%

Nursing Assistants

4.9%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Accounting

2.7%

Sociology

2.4%

Communication

2.2%

Human Development

2.2%

Early Childhood Education

2.0%

Education

1.9%

Elementary Education

1.9%

Cosmetology

1.8%

Medical Technician

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

34.6%

Bachelors

28.5%

Associate

17.5%

Masters

8.9%

Certificate

6.3%

Diploma

3.1%

License

0.8%

Doctorate

0.3%
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How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Direct Support Staff?

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Top Skills for A Direct Support Staff

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  1. Independent Living
  2. Personal Care
  3. Behavioral Issues
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide direct support to help client achieve semi-independent living by offering instruction and encouragement in completion of tasks.
  • Provide personal care and assistance to individuals with intellectual disabilities.
  • Mentored individuals with disabilities and behavioral issues.
  • Assisted individuals with daily activities, meal prepped, assisted with bathing, feeding, dressing, house hold chores and transportation
  • Direct support provides services assisting in the daily living for mentally challenged adults including transportation to special events and personal appointments.

How Would You Rate Working As a Direct Support Staff?

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Top Direct Support Staff Employers

Jobs From Top Direct Support Staff Employers

Direct Support Staff Videos

Life as a Direct Support Professional

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Careers - Life Coach 1 (Direct Support Professional)

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