Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

Print: Print this page

Careers in Direct Support - Learn More

02/24/12

Welcome to OPWDD’s CAREER page for Direct Support Professionals.

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 Care Treatment Aides (DDSCTAs) are the heart of our workforce.

What do DSAs and DDSCTAs do?

DSAs help people with developmental disabilities lead richer lives. The work is challenging and diverse. DSAs assist individuals 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 individuals live more independently is critical to our vision of community inclusion. Not everyone is cut out for this type of work—these positions can be emotionally and physically demanding, but are very rewarding.

Please view a short video to learn more about the challenges and rewards of being a direct support professional.

Other direct support employees, called DDSCTAs, provide support to individuals residing in intensive treatment units at secure facilities. Please review the complete job description for DDSCTAs.

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, as well. All potential employees must also be cleared through the NYS Child Abuse Registry and the Medicaid Fraud Prevention and Detection Database.

What is the starting salary?

DSA trainees start off earning $32,325 a year. After completion of the traineeship, the annual salary increases to $35,344. Compensation increases with experience. New York State also provides employees with a comprehensive benefit package, including health insurance, retirement plan, and generous leave benefits. DDSCTAs start at an annual salary of $38,113.

How do I get started?

As with most jobs with New York State, candidates must take and pass a Civil Service examination in order 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.