Disability Support Worker Job Description

The primary role of a Disability Support Worker, also known as a personal support worker, is to provide assistance to individuals with physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities. They help disabled individuals perform basic hygiene tasks, such as bathing and brushing teeth, in addition to daily living tasks such as cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. Disability Support Workers could be responsible for transporting disabled individuals to therapy or doctor appointments and take them shopping and completing other chores.

Other duties/responsibilities of Disability Support Workers include:

  • Medication administration
  • Cleaning rooms
  • Behavior observation and support
  • Maintaining record of client progress
  • Assessing client to determine continuing needs
  • Assistance in building client self-image and self-confidence

In addition, Disability Support Workers generally assist in developing and implementing client-specific programs to help these individuals build strong social skills and encourage independence whenever possible. Disability Support Workers work in community-based settings such as group homes or care centers or in some cases provide care in the client’s home. They might also be employed by state departments of human services.


Skills for Disability Support Workers

You’ll need to be a compassionate, empathetic and detail-oriented person who possess strong listening and oral communication skills to be successful at this occupation. Patience, a passion for helping people and being a team player are also essential attributes for Disability Support Workers. Though teamwork is often involved and an important aspect of this occupation, you should also possess the ability to work independently with disabled individuals to achieve social and self-care goals. You should also be in good physical condition as the job typically involves lifting clients, such as assisting them into vehicles and in and out of bathtubs.


Rewards and Challenges of Being a Disability Support Worker

As with any occupation, working as a Disability Support Worker can be both enriching and challenging. Below we have listed the major rewards and challenges of working in this field to help you prepare for what lies ahead if you are interested in pursuing this career.


  • Personal satisfaction
  • Variety of work settings
  • Working with diverse people
  • Impacting a disabled individual’s quality of life
  • Flexible schedule


  • Handling argumentative or combative individuals at times
  • Physical demands
  • Traveling in all types of conditions
  • Overcoming communication difficulties


Disability Support Worker Educational and Professional Requirements

While there are generally no educational requirements for Disability Support Workers, as most employers require only a high school diploma or GED, completing a degree program in social work, sociology or psychology could be beneficial. These types of programs generally contain courses in human behavior, social development and human development that would be helpful to those pursuing a career in this field. A degree would also be essential for those who wish to advance into clinical social work. Some schools offer a diploma program in this area.

Requirements for Disability Support Workers seeking to work at the state government level may vary from state to state. For instance, Oregon requires that those seeking a job in this field complete a Provider Enrollment Application and Agreement, complete a background check and attend orientations. In Illinois, Disability Support Workers must complete an approved Direct Support Persons (DSP) training program consisting of 40 classroom hours and 80 on-the-job training hours to work for that state’s department of human services.

Disability Support Worker Salary Overview

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in the healthcare support field, such as Disability Support Workers, earn a median annual salary of $35,780.Those employed in community settings can earn an annual mean wage of $45,310, while those working for home care companies are paid a yearly mean salary of $43,920. If you live in Delaware ($44,320), California ($43,500) or Oklahoma ($43,180), you can expect to earn among the highest annual median salaries in the U.S. for this occupation.


Professional Organizations for Disability Support Workers

Professional associations provide support, educational and networking opportunities for Disability Support Workers and for those seeking to learn more about this profession. These organizations offer online study opportunities, forums, seminars, conferences, online publications, certification information and more. Links to relevant organizations are found below.

National Association of Certified Caregivers/Personal Support Workers (NACCPSW)

Personal Support Worker Association (PSWA)

National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP)

National Disability Practitioners


Disability Support Worker Video Resources

Following are links to videos that show how Disability Support Workers perform their job duties, what environments they work in, how they approach the job and more. These can be useful to show you what to expect when working in this field.

Benefits and Challenges of Support Work – This video shows interviews with Disability Support Workers and other professionals about program development, support challenges, expectations and more.

Euricka’s Story – A video journal of a Disability Support Worker giving insight into client care, job duties and other aspects of this occupation.

Client Perspective – A video interviewing disabled individuals talking about their support workers.


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