Apprenticeship Program

U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program for Direct Support Professionals

Approved in October 2010, the Direct Support Professional Registered Apprenticeship Program addresses the need for a quality, competency-based model of instruction to educate direct support professionals (DSPs) and promote opportunities for advancement and career pathways in this workforce. The DSP Apprenticeship Model provides a structure for the development of quality educational programs that can be tailored and implemented across the nation to meet state and regional needs. The Direct Support Professional Apprenticeship Program expressly requires training focused on supporting people with disabilities to live healthy and active lives in their communities.

The Apprenticeship guidelines align with the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) Credentialing Program and reflect best practices in the field of direct support. The Apprenticeship is based upon NADSP’s Competencies and Code of Ethics and requires an apprentice to receive related classroom instruction and on the job training in eight of 15 NADSP Competency Areas. The Apprenticeship model offers three sequential credentials: DSP-Registered, DSP-Initial Certificate, and DSP-Advanced Certificate linked to increasing levels of proficiency in direct support. Upon receiving the DSP- Advanced Certificate the learner has achieved Journeyworker status, receives a certificate from the Department of Labor, and is well-prepared to apply for the NADSP DSP-Certified credential, a separate award conferred through NADSP’s national review process.

Provider organizations and educational/training programs can become approved as Department of Labor Apprenticeship sites and/or NADSP Accredited (link to accreditation information). If you are interested in pursuing a DSP credential or apprenticeship, go to , to learn more.

For information on assessment at each phase of the Apprenticeship, please View the Apprenticeship Program Requirements.

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