About Direct Support Professionals

Careers in Direct Support

We have a number of rewarding job opportunities for people interested in making a positive difference in someone's life. Direct Support Assistants (DSAs) and Developmental Disabilities Secure Treatment Aides (DDSCTAs) are the heart of OPWDD's workforce.


What do DSAs and DDSCTAs do?

DSAs help people with developmental disabilities live richer lives. The work is challenging and diverse. DSAs assist people with all of their personal needs and care plans, help people participate in recreational programs that strengthen their life skills and ensure a safe and comfortable environment. Helping people live more independently is critical to OPWDD's vision of community inclusion. Not everyone is cut out for this type of work as these positions can be emotionally and physically demanding, but also very rewarding. 

Other direct support employees, called DDSCTAs, provide support for people residing in intensive treatment units in secure facilities. Please review the complete job description for a DDSCTA.

You can view this short video to learn more about the rewards of being a DSP:

What are the qualifications to become a DSA?

You must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and a valid New York State driver's license. In addition, you must pass a physical examination to ensure your fitness to perform what could include strenuous duties. The exam includes psychological and drug screens, and a criminal background check will be conducted. All potential employees must also be cleared through the New York State Child Abuse Registry and the Medicaid Fraud Prevention and Detection Database.

What is the starting salary?

The starting salary for DSAs is $37,507 per year, with higher compensation available in Franklin and Hamilton counties. Compensation increases with experience and DSAs are eligible for annual salary increases as they advance to the job rate of $46,103. New York State also provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package, including health insurance, retirement plan and generous leave benefits. DDSCTAs start at an annual salary of $39,653 with higher compensation available in Franklin county. DDSCTAs are also eligible for annual salary increases as they advance to the job rate of $51,410.

How do I get started?

As with most jobs with New York State, you must take and pass a Civil Service examination to be appointed to a position. The DSA exam is given several times throughout the year and is administered by OPWDD's Developmental Disabilities State Operations Offices (DDSOOs) located throughout the state. 

To take the exam, mail a completed application to the DDSOO where you wish to be tested. Download the DSA trainee exam announcement and application and the DDSCTA trainee exam announcement and application. Search by your home county to find the contact information for your local DDSOO.

The process can be confusing. Do not hesitate to ask questions.

We are here to help you become a Direct Support Professional with OPWDD.