Direct Support Professionals—It starts as a job and becomes a career

A female Direct Support Professional hugging a woman with a disability

It starts as a job. Everyone has bills to pay, right? Many become Direct Support Professionals (DSP) without any experience or continuing education. AbleLight provides on-the-job training along with CPR and First Aid certification. We look for people who are caring, compassionate, responsible, dedicated. Many of our DSPs have cared for children, siblings, the elderly and sometimes just themselves. While we say, “no experience necessary,” we all have some experience.

  • Getting ready to face the day
  • Setting goals and working toward them
  • Planning and preparing daily meals
  • Maintaining our homes
  • And many more tasks of daily life

At AbleLight, we support the whole person, meeting their individual needs and providing the supports they need to thrive.

It’s usually a bit more than daily life

DSPs empower people with disabilities to live life to the fullest. They provide guidance and coaching; facilitate activities such as gardening, cooking or crafts; and foster community engagement, whether they work in group homes or support independent living.

In addition, many with intellectual and developmental disabilities have medical needs that DSPs support, such as administering medication, taking vital signs and monitoring well-being. Don’t worry, we provide all the training needed so that you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people we serve.

How does it become a career?

Stay where you are: Some people make a career out of finding a job they love and doing it really, really well. They continually look for ways to improve and grow in their role and they love it so much they can’t imagine doing any other job. Earlier this year one of our DSPs in California celebrated her 40th anniversary with AbleLight and she’s worked as a DSP the entire 40 years with no signs of stopping now. We have room for DSPs who love their job and want to do it every day.

Move on up: Many build a career by starting right where they are now. They plan and prepare for where they want to be and always do their best work to ensure they’re prepared for the next opportunity. They seek out mentors, find out what they need to learn, look for feedback, and determine the skills (hard and soft) they’ll need to advance. We have room for people who want to move up and several of our senior leaders have moved up from DSP roles to become directors at AbleLight.

Slide sideways: Some like to try something new. They’re often the folks who want to explore and learn as much as possible. Maybe they need to develop certain skills or expand their personal network within the organization. Sometimes there’s no room for growth in their current role or they’ve discovered a passion in a whole new area. Whatever the reason, we support team members’ decisions to explore other areas of our organization.

Think of it this way. Team members can spend 5, 10, or even 40+ years with AbleLight going up or sideways or staying exactly where they are.

Put your heart to work

Do you feel called to serve? Do you want to earn a market-leading wage? Then being a Direct Support Professional might be the job for you. Just bring that great big heart of yours. We can’t wait to meet you.

If it’s so amazing, why are you looking for DSPs?

The number of people with developmental disabilities in this country continues to grow and at AbleLight we need to grow to meet the needs of this expanding population. In addition, our work is not easy and many new DSPs aren’t aware of the challenges that come with providing direct support to individuals with disabilities.

However, the personal fulfillment and benefits that come with being a DSP far outweigh any challenges. The rigors of the job are rewarded with the satisfaction that comes from helping a person with disabilities grow, thrive, and achieve their full potential.

Here’s what our DSPs have to say

At AbleLight, most of our workforce are direct support professionals. They are on the front lines every day ensuring the people we serve are supported, happy and connected to their community. So, who better to ask about what it means to be a direct support professional than our own team? We asked a few of them what the most rewarding aspect of being a DSP is. Here’s what they had to say.

Barbara, DSP in Minnesota

[The job] gives back to me because it teaches me how to love more, to give more, and to help more, and to understand that you are doing a good deed when you help somebody.

James, DSP in Minnesota

I think when you end a shift and the individuals are maybe sad that you’re going away, but they know you’re going to be back tomorrow. When someone can accomplish a goal and know that I did that and they smile and they make you feel you made my day better.

Nicoline, DSP in Kansas

I love the people I work with. They’re like my family. I feel like they’re part of me.

Justin, DSP in Washington

The thing that keeps us going is that you remember one thing: that you are there to change the lives of those people you support, you’re there to make their lives better.

Peter, DSP in California

[The clients] are just pure at heart. You get to play with them. You kind of get to behave in a way that’s very free. You can just kind of loosen up because they don’t judge, you have fun with them, you play games with them.

At AbleLight, we are looking for candidates across the country who demonstrate these qualities to join our growing operations team. If becoming a DSP sounds like a fit for you or someone you know, please visit our careers page to learn more about the job and how you can apply. It may be the most rewarding job, turned career, you’ll ever have.