About DSP Certification

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has developed a national certification program for Direct Support professionals working in community human services. The purpose of this certification program is to provide national recognition for the contributions and competence of Direct Support Professionals who apply for and meet the certification standards.

The NADSP certification program offers powerful benefits to practitioners, their employers and to the people they support. Direct support professionals benefit by learning and applying best practices and evidence-based skill and knowledge in the workplace.  The organizations employing credentialed DSPs can provide stronger assurances of quality to funders and consumers, and can proudly market their employment of nationally certified staff. People receiving supports from certified DSPs will have the advantage of partnering with highly trained professionals committed to supporting them using the ethical and effective interventions that they have mastered. Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests that employees who complete rigorous credential programs stay on the job longer and provide a higher quality of support. The NADSP certification program affords DSPs the opportunity to commit to the profession of direct support through its three-tiered credential program. The DSP career path begins with the Registration Level (DSP-Registered). As a DSP-Registered you will then be eligible to complete expert training in the key DSP competencies of empowerment, communication, planning, ethical practice and advocacy to become a fully certified Direct Support Professional (DSP-Certified). The third level of NADSP certification (DSP-Specialist) recognizes DSPs who have obtained specialized training and have demonstrated competence in providing specialized support to individuals with disabilities in community human services.

For more information about each of the three credentialing levels, click on the titles below:

Credentialing Grievance and Request for Special Accommodations Processes

NADSP has established a Special Review Committee to review any grievances or requests for additional consideration regarding the NADSP Credentialing Program. This Committee will be chaired by an Executive Committee member and will include a minimum of one additional person who is not a member of the Portfolio Review Committee. To request that this Committee address an issue of importance to the applicant, s/he must submit a letter to the NADSP Executive Chair. This letter should specifically state the concern and their circumstances for consideration regarding the individual’s participation in the NADSP Credentialing Program. Upon receipt of this request, the Special Review Committee will review and reach a decision within 30 days.

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