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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

South Carolina Direct Support Professional Training Program

South Carolina Direct Support Professional Training Program (SC-DSP)

The Direct Support Professional Training program is a State approved program which offers training to candidates that desire to become eligible for certification as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). 


Training consists of:


                        • A minimum of 60 hours of classroom instruction

                        • 10 hours of documented skill practicum of which eight (8) hours must be on-site practicum hours in a DDSN

                           qualified provider agency.



                                                          Picture with DSP students in classroom.


Are you excited as we are about the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Training Program?


Please review these resources to learn more about this new, innovative program for high school youth interested in working with people with disabilities!


1. What is a Direct Support Professional (DSP)?

  • A Direct Support Professional works directly with people with disabilities to support each person as needed to live a meaningful life in his/her own home, school, workplace and greater community. 


  • A DSP may provide a wide variety of supports including but not limited to:
    • Hands-on assistance with tasks like dressing or bathing
    • Teaching skills needed for independent living, like work skills and household skills  
    • Assisting with household tasks like grocery shopping and paying bills


  • A DSP works in:
    • The homes of people with disabilities
    • DDSN-sponsored residential settings
    • DDSN-sponsored employment/day settings
    • Any place where a person with disability needs assistance/support  



                                                                             Street sign saying "Did you know there were 850 job openings for DSP in 2019?"


2. Why is a recognized DSP Training Program important for South Carolina?

  • There is a shortage of DSPs both nationally and in South Carolina.  Data suggests that nationally approximately 17% of available positions are vacant.  In South Carolina, there are approximately 850 vacant positions.  The need for DSPs continues to grow.


  • The credential will professionalize the role of the DSP thereby attracting people to the field


  • The credential will create a career path for the worker thereby keeping them in the field


  • National data indicates a direct correlation between the resources invested in training DSPs and quality of the supports they deliver.  Higher quality training yields better supports delivered.  Learn more about national efforts for recognizing the role of the Direct Support Professional by clicking the following link: Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act (PDF)   


  • The credential is an investment in South Carolina’s workforce and a means to better supports for South Carolinians with disabilities



3. How will a South Carolina Industry Credential for DSPs be awarded?

  • Educational institutions and work force development agencies across the state will offer training and instruction.


  • DDSN will utilize a competency-based credentialing approach that will create a standardized process.


  • DDSN will issue the credential to those successfully demonstrating competency.



4. How can an educational entity become a DSP Training Program?

  • South Carolina DDSN will approve entities to provide the DSP Training Program. 


  • The DSP Training Program Manual outlines the requirements for training programs and the process for program approval.  For complete details click the link to download the SC-DSP Training Program Policy Manual (PDF).



5. How will South Carolina roll out the DSP Training Program across the state?

  • SCDDSN has piloted this program in two sites across the state during the 2019-2020 school year.  These pilot sites are currently training students who are participating in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.  Currently, in the pilot sites the DSP program is being added into the Health Science Clinical Studies (PDF) class.  


  • Pending approval as an industry recognized credential, additional school districts can apply to offer the training to students beginning during the 2021-2022 school year. 


  •  Click the link to view the SC Department of Education Approved Industry Credential List for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020:

                             List of Career and Technology Approved Industry Credential List 2018-19 and 2019-20 (PDF)


  • Click the link to view the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Student Reporting Procedures Guide for 2019-2020:

                              2019-20 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Student Reporting Procedures Guide (PDF)



6. What are the costs associated with the DSP Training Program?

  • Currently there are no additional costs associated with the DSP Training Program for students.  Students are already participating in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program and costs are covered by this program expense. 


  • DDSN is not currently charging students to take the DSP Competency Exam, for the credential certificate or to become registered as a DSP with the state DDSN office. 


  • School districts are currently covering the cost of training for their teaching staff (i.e. train the trainer type programs) to instruct the DSP Training Program required content.


  • Local DDSN Providers are serving as Practicum Site and are providing access to on-line, in person training modules and assisting with supervision of students’ practicum experiences. 


  • SCDDSN is providing staff and resources for program development and oversight.


                                                          Picture with DSP students outside.


7. Where can I learn more about the DSP Training Program?


  • Questions for the Department of Education regarding this program can be directed to Angel Clark, Health Science Education Associate at 803-734-0372 or




Additional questions on the Direct Support Professional Training Program can be directed to: