DSP-Certified Initial Level


Certified DSP Seal and Certificate


The second level of credentialing recognizes Direct Support Professionals who have demonstrated competence that is measured and approved by the NADSP and is split between two levels; Direct Support Professional Certified Initial Level I and Direct Support Professional Certified Advanced Level II.

These certifications sets this group of direct support professionals apart from other direct support professionals in that they have demonstrated skills that typical entry level direct support professionals would not have acquired. As the primary competence credential for direct support practice, the DSP-Certified Level 1 and Level 2 credential is the core of our credentialing program. Regardless of specialization, every DSP approved as a DSP-Certified Level 1 and Level 2 has demonstrated skills and knowledge that enable him or her to practice high quality direct support.

Required elements NADSP Certified Initial Level - Direct Support Professional - I:

Must be a DSP-Registered;

Proof of completion of 100 related instruction hours, including classroom/online learning and such strategies as: skills mentoring or discussion seminars or applying the learning through on-the-job training or portfolio development sessions, from an NADSP accredited education or training program;

Prior to submitting the application, must have proof of one year continuous and current work with a community human services employer (or an individual/family who self-directs their supports or a provider organization);

Professional resume;

Updated letter of professional commitment;

Letter of support/recommendation from a person to whom the direct support professional provides service or, in some situations, their family member or legal representative;

Portfolio of work samples that demonstrate competence in four (4)of the fifteen (15) NADSP competency areas;

Signed and dated re-commitment to adhere to the NADSP Code of Ethics.

Recognized award:

Officially embossed certificate that identifies the direct support professionals as NADSP Certified Initial Level - Direct Support Professional - I;

Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Certified Initial Level I,”;

Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating the DSP on his/her achievement.

Fee: $100.00

Re-certification Certified Initial Level - Direct Support Professional - I:

The following requirements for DSP-C Initial Level 1 renewal must be met every two years after the Certified Initial Level - Direct Support Professional - I has been awarded (UNLESS NADSP DSP-Certified Advanced (DSP-C Level 2) Award is achieved during the two year time period.

The completion of 20 hours of continuing education in the area of community human services

Up to 8 hours can include employer required re-certifications, for example:

  • CPR,
  • First Aid
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Medication administration
  • Mandatory or other required training/education on positive behavior support and intervention
  • OSHA required safety such as handling blood borne pathogens and fire safety
  • The remaining 12 (or more) hours may include advanced professional development courses of  the direct support professional’s choosing, for example:
  • Participation in local, state, and national DD/ID conferences
  • On-line course completion on topics pertaining to human services
  • College coursework completion on a relevant topic in human services
  • Completion of workshops offered by professional human service organizations on relevant topics

 Documentation of the completion of all continuing education is required. The date(s) and topic or title of the training, number of training hours, and the name and title of the presenter/trainer). The training must have been completed during the two year period between certifications.

  • Continuing Education Units (CEU's) are NOT required
  • Signed and dated re-commitment to adhere to the NADSP Code of Ethics.

   5. Fee: $25.00

NADSP National Partners

ANCOR BLUE-2 re CQL Logo No text for web RTC D2D resizednlcdd230