Direct support professionals are health professionals who help individuals adapt to regular life. In most cases, direct support professionals work with adults and children who might have developmental disabilities. People who work as direct support professionals might perform duties such as transporting individuals to different locations, performing personal care and promoting healthy lifestyles. To become a direct support professional, it is essential that you have a high school diploma or an equivalent certification. You also should be the kind of person who enjoys working closely with others and who is patient and caring, especially when working with people who have disorders that prevent them from performing what might seem like normal or easy activities.
A person who wants to become a direct support professional often does not need to have any formal training in fields such as health or nursing, although a background in any of these fields certainly can be helpful when it comes to finding a job. In some cases, employers might require direct support professionals to work toward professional certification after they are employed. Other employers might expect all job candidates to have experience working in nursing homes or similar facilities.
To become a direct support professional, it often is necessary to be able to provide several good references. People who have direct support positions have a great deal of responsibility. Employers usually need to make sure that you are trustworthy and that you have been in situations where you had a great deal of responsibility. Although the number of reference letters varies from employer to employer, it is a good idea to have at least three people whom you can ask to be references at any given time.
An individual who would like to become a direct support professional also should have good general knowledge of healthy habits. He or she should understand the basics of hygiene and might need to understand some public health or health education principles. Aside from assisting people who suffer from developmental disabilities, it is common for people in these positions to act as educators. Lessons that residents learn from direct support professionals might have a positive effect on them as they adjust to regular life.
Any person who wants to become a direct support professional probably should be in good health. It is common to have to lift heavy objects or even people. Individuals who have chronic illnesses that might keep them out of work for days at a time might not be the best candidates for direct support professional positions.