Career Pathways

Direct Support Professional (DSP)

Download Interactive Worksheet


Description of a DSP

A Direct Support Professional (DSP) supports people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who need personal care and other assistance in order to be as independent as possible.  A DSP provides personal supervision and therapeutic support, helping individuals to develop and maintain the daily living skills necessary to remain oriented, healthy, and safe. They may provide community support or work support. DSPs provide assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs).

DSP Work Settings and Population Served

  • Works with people with an Intellectual Disability or Autistic Disorder
  • Can work in a residential setting, in a person’s home, or on the job or in the community with the person being served

Hiring Requirements

Per MaineCare Benefits Manual, a person may not be hired as DSP if that person has ever been:

  • Convicted of a crime involving abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • Convicted of a crime in connection to intentional or knowing conduct that caused, threatened, solicited or created the substantial risk of bodily injury to another person
  • Convicted of a crime resulting from a sexual act, contact, touching or solicitation in connection to any victim; or
  • Convicted of any other crime classified as Class A, B or C or the equivalent of any of these, or any reckless conduct that caused, threatened, solicited or created the substantial risk of bodily injury to another person within the preceding two (2) years
  • Employment of individuals with records of such convictions more than five (5) years ago is a matter within the provider’s discretion after consideration of the individual’s criminal record in relation to the nature of the position.


Be at least 18 years old

Have a high school diploma or GED

Complete the DHHS-approved Direct Support Professional training program

Behavioral Health Intervention training required by some employers




A person who is certified as a DSP can move into the following positions with additional education:

Human Services:

  • MHRT – I
  • CIPS
  • MHRT – C
  • Mental Health Worker

Health Services

  • PSS
  • CRMA
  • Home Health Aide
  • CNA
  • CNA – M
  • LPN
  • Medical Assistant
  • Nursing Degree