DSP-Specialist (DSP-III) Certification

The DSP Specialist (DSP-III) Certification represents the highest level of certification for DSPs offered by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). It is designed to recognize DSPs who have obtained specialized training and have demonstrated competence in providing specialized support to people with disabilities in community-based human services. This certification recognizes those who have already achieved DSP-R, DSP-I and DSP-II status and want to also achieve recognition for their specialized knowledge and skill in five different areas. The five DSP Specialist Credentials are for Inclusion, Health Support, Employment Supports, Positive Behavioral Support, and Aging Supports. DSPs must apply for each specialist credential separately.

Click on each title below for more information:

DSP Specialist (DSP-III) Guidebook

The focus of the guidebook is on the DSP-III, or DSP Specialist Certification. The guidebook lays out the various eligibility requirements, application components, certification expectations, and more. It also explains what DSPs already certified at the DSP-II level need to do to obtain the DSP-III specialist certification, and provide information and strategies that DSPs and employers can use to help DSPs to achieve the DSP Specialist (DSP-III) Certification.

Get Started

You can begin the process towards achieving NADSP Certification by downloading, completing and submitting the application form. After you have filled out the application, you can send it to Desiree Loucks Baer, NADSP’s Assistant Executive Director: dloucksbaer@nadsp.org

What happens after I apply?

Your DSP-Specialist application packet will be reviewed by NADSP within 90 days of receipt. If your application meets the criteria for advanced credentialing you will receive your DSP-Specialist recognition package. The package includes an embossed certificate that personally identifies you as a DSP-Specialist in your particular specialty area, a lapel pin that reinforces the achievement of the DSP-Specialist credential, and a personal letter from NADSP congratulating you on your achievement.

DSP-Specialist Inclusion (DSP-S-I)

The DSP-Specialist in Inclusion credential (DSP-S-I) recognizes competence in supporting the inclusion of people receiving support services in the communities in which they live and work. These specialists understand why inclusion is important and have demonstrated the skills to enhance inclusion of people receiving support services including: understanding their role in community inclusion, matching community resources with individual interests, building bridges within communities and utilizing natural supports.

 

Required elements:

  1. Must be a DSP-Certified II;
  2. Approved continuing education in inclusion (40 hours);
  3. Portfolio work sample that demonstrates competence in inclusion;
  4. Proof of one year continuous work providing inclusion opportunities for people who use community human services;
  5. Letter from employer in support of competence and professional integrity in the area of inclusion

Recognized award:

  1. Officially embossed certificate that identifies them personally as a DSP- Specialist in Inclusion;
  2. Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Specialist,”
  3. Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating them on their achievement.

Fee: $200 (Please note the price change effective 1/2/19)

Re-certification:

In order to maintain DSP-Specialist in Inclusion status the DSP must be re-certified every two years. The re-certification process requires:

  1. Re-certification of the DSP-Certified credential;
  2. Proof of completion of 5 hours of continuing education in Inclusion;
  3. Re-affirmation of commitment to the NADSP Code of Ethics

Fee: $50

DSP Specialist Health Support (DSP-S-HS)

The DSP-Specialist in Health Support credential (DSP-S-HS) recognizes competence in supporting people utilizing community human services to make good choices related to their health.These healthy choices may include things such as eating healthy, visiting the doctor regularly, and getting the right amount of exercise. These specialists understand health-related issues across the life span for people with disabilities and can support individuals working with health care providers.

 

Required elements:

  1. Must be a DSP-Certified II;
  2. Approved continuing education in health support (40 hours);
  3. Portfolio work sample that demonstrates competence in health support;
  4. Proof of one year continuous work providing support to people with special health care needs; and
  5. Letter from employer in support of competence and professional integrity in the area of health support.

Recognized award:

  1. Officially embossed certificate that identifies them personally as a DSP- Specialist in Health Support;
  2. Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Specialist;” and
  3. Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating them on their achievement.

Fee: $200 (Please note the price change effective 1/2/19)

Re-certification:

In order to maintain DSP-Specialist in Health Support status the DSP must be re-certified every two years. The re-certification process requires:

  1. Re-certification of the DSP-Certified credential;
  2. Proof of completion of 5 hours of continuing education in Health Support;
  3. Re-affirmation of commitment to the NADSP Code of Ethics

Fee: $50

DSP-Specialist Employment Supports (DSP-S-ES)

The DSP-Specialist in Employment Support credential (DSP-S-ES) recognizes competence in knowing and understanding the value of work to all people and their role in the facilitation of positive work opportunities for those they support. Employment Support specialists help create these opportunities by using a personalized combination of job development, job coaching, and interpersonal skills to make employment a reality.

 

Required elements:

  1. Must have been awarded the DSP- II credential;
  2. Training/education of 40 hours in Employment Support that must be approved by an employer representative (such as a supervisor, trainer, HR administrator), completed during the 2 years prior to the DSP-III-Specialist application, and none of the required 40 hours can duplicate the training/education hours used for the 200 hours required for the combined DSP I and DSP II credentials;
  3. Three Portfolio work samples – each demonstrating competence in 3 different and essential components of employment support;
  4. Letter from the employer that verifies the applicant has one year of continuously providing employment support opportunities for people who use community human services, and supports the applicant’s competence and professional integrity in the area of employment support.

Recognized award:

  1. Officially embossed certificate that identifies them personally as a DSP- Specialist in Employment Supports;
  2. Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Specialist;” and
  3. Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating them on their achievement.

Fee: $200 (Please note the price change effective 1/2/19)

Re-certification:

In order to maintain DSP-Specialist in Employment Supports status the DSP must be re-certified every two years. The re-certification process requires:

  1. Re-certification of the DSP-Certified credential;
  2. Proof of completion of 5 hours of continuing education in Employment Supports; and
  3. Re-affirmation of commitment to the NADSP Code of Ethics

Fee: $50

DSP-Specialist Positive Behavioral Support (DSP-S-PBS)

The DSP-Specialist in Positive Behavior Support credential (DSP-S-PBS) recognizes competence in ways to support people who have challenging behaviors.These specialists are skillful in strategies that are safe, fair, compassionate, person-centered and effective in preventing and reducing problem behaviors.

 

Required elements:

  1. Must be a DSP-Certified II;
  2. Approved continuing education in positive behavior support (40 hours);
  3. Portfolio work sample that demonstrates competence in behavior support;
  4. Proof of one year continuous work with an individual who displays challenging behavior; and
  5. Letter from employer in support of competence and professional integrity in the area of positive behavior support.

Recognized award:

  1. Officially embossed certificate that identifies them personally as a DSP- Specialist in Positive Behavior Support;
  2. Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Specialist;” and
  3. Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating them on their achievement.

Fee: $200 (Please note the price change effective 1/2/19)

Re-certification:

In order to maintain DSP-Specialist in Positive Behavior Support status the DSP must be re-certified every two years. The re-certification process requires:

  1. Re-certification of the DSP-Certified credential;
  2. Proof of completion of 5 hours of continuing education in positive behavior support;
  3. Re-affirmation of commitment to the NADSP Code of Ethics

Fee: $50

DSP-Specialist Aging Supports (DSP-S-AS)

The DSP-Specialist in Aging Support credential (DSP-S-AS) recognizes competence in ways to support people who are aging. The competent DSP Specialist in Aging Support will understand how aging affects a person’s physical and mental health and will be aware of, and document, such changes in the person receiving supports. The competent DSP will support a person to ‘age in place’ for as long as desired/possible.

 

Required elements:

  1. Must be a DSP-Certified II;
  2. Approved continuing education in aging support (40 hours);
  3. Portfolio work sample that demonstrates competence in aging support;
  4. Proof of one year continuous work with an aging individual; and
  5. Letter from employer in support of competence and professional integrity in the area of aging support.

Recognized award:

  1. Officially embossed certificate that identifies them personally as a DSP- Specialist in Aging Support;
  2. Lapel pin that says “Direct Support Professional – Specialist;” and
  3. Personalized letter from NADSP congratulating them on their achievement.

Fee: $200 (Please note the price change effective 1/2/19)

Re-certification:

In order to maintain DSP-Specialist in Aging Support status the DSP must be re-certified every two years. The re-certification process requires:

  1. Re-certification of the DSP-Certified credential;
  2. Proof of completion of 5 hours of continuing education in aging support;
  3. Re-affirmation of commitment to the NADSP Code of Ethics

Fee: $50