Direct support staff, popularly referred to as direct support professionals, work with people who have both physical and intellectual disabilities and provide them with assistance and professional care. You are expected to assist with their daily living needs and encourage them to live productive lives with meaningful interactions with their community. Your job would require you to develop a personalized training and care for residents in compliance with healthcare professional's instructions and other specific guidelines. While doing this, you must at the same time promote independence in your daily activities such as work, learning, and leisure. Documenting and complying with facilities policies and procedures are also key duties expected of you.

Passion for what you do, integrity, great communication skills, as well as skills in direct support, intellectual disabilities, personal care, mental health, and direct care are essential for this role. A bachelor's degree is most commonly required for this role. The average direct support staff earns $14.17 an hour and $29,469 annually.

What Does a Direct Support Staff Do

There are certain skills that many direct support staff 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 interpersonal skills.

Learn more about what a Direct Support Staff does

How To Become a Direct Support Staff

If you're interested in becoming a direct support staff, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 30.1% of direct support staff have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 3.1% of direct support staff have master's degrees. Even though some direct support staff have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Direct Support Staff

Direct Support Staff Career Paths

Average Salary for a Direct Support Staff

Direct Support Staff in America make an average salary of $31,268 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $53,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $18,000 per year.
Average Direct Support Staff Salary
$31,268 Yearly
$15.03 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Direct Support Staff

The role of a direct support staff includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general direct support staff responsibilities:

  • Ensure individuals are safe, healthy, and living in a clean environment; assist
  • Provides and ensures a safe, clean
  • A provide support in all areas of daily livingas needed by individual. This may include lifting individuals, assisting intransferring, moving wheelchairs. B supportindividuals in obtaining the goals (s)he have envisioned

There are several types of direct support staff, including:

Direct Support Professional


A direct support professional is a trained professional responsible for providing support to people with learning and other developmental disabilities with the goal of achieving more stability and independence as well as creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for them to do so. Their duties mainly center around the residents of the facility they work in and thus include administering medication and other forms of therapy and treatment, assisting with everyday tasks and processes, including basic personal hygiene, and monitoring and documenting patient developments and status.
  • Average Salary: $32,077
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Direct Care Worker


Direct care workers are specialists in caregiving. Direct care specialists' role is known as a noble cause as it takes serving other people. You will be assisting patients who have certain disabilities or illnesses with their hygiene and personal care. Hence you will need to be present by the patient's side for hours. Similarly, you will observe the patient's state while ensuring that they recover from their illness soon. As a result, you will meet with the family of the patients to discuss the condition with them.

You tend to play a critical role in serving society. Hence, you will enjoy a respectable position in society. You will need to possess interpersonal skills which work well with different kinds of people. Being compassionate and having the physical stamina to help patients is also required. Another skill required is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Direct care worker exhibits the ability to think quickly and act calmly in an emergency. They earn an average of $24,090 yearly.
  • Average Salary: $29,343
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Direct Care Staffer


Direct care workers give care and assistance to people that are physically disabled or old people. You will help the patient run errands when needed. Also, you will assist the elderly or physically challenged move around the house. Furthermore, you will ensure you cook for the patient and make sure they eat the special dietary considerations and take prescribed medications. You will meet with the family to discuss the needs and improvement of the patients while you serve as the companion for elders who live alone.

Direct care staffers must have great knowledge of proper first aid and emergency response procedures. They must be compassionate and have patience. Similarly, you need the ability to think quickly and act calmly in an emergency case. You need physical stamina to be able to run errands and help move patients around in the house. Another required skill is a strong listening ability. You will earn an average of $12.96 an hour or $26,954 yearly.
  • Average Salary: $30,480
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Direct Support Staff Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active direct support staff jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where direct support staff earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Direct Support Staff Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
2New York3,943$32,622
10New Jersey1,807$32,320
15North Carolina1,189$25,642
19South Carolina967$25,720
36New Mexico434$32,703
39Rhode Island253$30,708
40West Virginia247$28,779
42New Hampshire241$26,941
43South Dakota201$27,852
46North Dakota122$25,011

Direct Support Staff Education

Direct Support Staff Majors

10.7 %
10.3 %

Direct Support Staff Degrees


30.1 %

High School Diploma

29.3 %


21.8 %

Top Skills For a Direct Support Staff

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, 17.0% of direct support staff listed direct support on their resume, but soft skills such as detail oriented and integrity are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Direct Support Staff Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Direct Support Staff templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Direct Support Staff 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 Staff Demographics

Direct Support Staff Gender Distribution


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

  • Among direct support staff, 75.3% of them are women, while 24.7% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among direct support staff is White, which makes up 59.8% of all direct support staff.

  • The most common foreign language among direct support staff is Spanish at 68.9%.

Online Courses For Direct Support Staff That You May Like

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1. Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability: Circles of Care and Education


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...

See More on Coursera

2. Essentials of Palliative Care


This course starts you on your journey of integrating primary palliative care into your daily lives. You will learn what palliative care is, how to communicate with patients, show empathy, and practice difficult conversations. You will learn how to screen for distress and provide psychosocial support. You will learn about goals of care and advance care planning and how to improve your success with having these conversations with patients. Finally, you will explore important cultural...

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3. Traditional herbal medicine in supportive cancer care: From alternative to integrative


Please join us for an exciting and innovative journey, examining one of the most important and often overlooked aspects of the oncology setting: Traditional Herbal Medicine in Supportive Cancer Care. This course is presented with short lectures offering a wide range of issues related to the principles and practice of herbal medicine in cancer care. The course includes interviews with leading world experts from the field of Integrative Oncology, from the U.S. and Canada, as well as Europe, the...

See More on Coursera
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Best States For a Direct Support Staff

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a direct support staff. The best states for people in this position are California, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington. Direct support staff make the most in California with an average salary of $43,292. Whereas in Hawaii and Alaska, they would average $40,162 and $35,959, respectively. While direct support staff would only make an average of $33,759 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. California

Total Direct Support Staff Jobs: 8,857
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Washington

Total Direct Support Staff Jobs: 1,910
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. New Mexico

Total Direct Support Staff Jobs: 434
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Direct Support Staff

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Top Direct Support Staff Employers

Most Common Employers For Direct Support Staff

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1Sumter County Sheriff's Office$40,172$19.3151
2The Mosaic Company$33,958$16.3395
4Pediatric Partners, now a member of the Sevita family$31,028$14.9234
5United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia$30,799$14.8147
6Lexington Holdings Inc$30,603$14.7150
7Lexington Center for Recovery$30,274$14.5573
8New Hope Services$30,130$14.4934
9Filling Homes$29,904$14.3869
10Danville Child Development Center$29,770$14.3190

Direct Support Staff Videos