NADSP Certification

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) has developed a national certification program for Direct Support Professionals working in community human services. The purpose of this certification program is to provide national recognition for the contributions and competence of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who apply for and meet the certification standards.

Benefits of NADSP Certification

The NADSP Certification program offers powerful benefits to practitioners, their employers and to the people they support. Direct support professionals benefit by learning and applying best practices and evidence-based skill and knowledge in the workplace. The organizations employing credentialed DSPs can provide stronger assurances of quality to funders and people supported, and can proudly market their employment of nationally certified staff. People receiving supports from certified DSPs will have the advantage of partnering with highly trained professionals committed to supporting them using the ethical and effective interventions that they have mastered.

Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests that employees who complete rigorous credential programs stay on the job longer and provide a higher quality of support. The NADSP certification program affords DSPs the opportunity to commit to the profession of direct support through its three-tiered credential program, which includes DSP-I, DSP-II and DSP-III certification through the NADSP E-Badge Academy.


“We’re really impressed with the way that it has broken down. It focuses on those competencies and the ethics in a way that is manageable.”

- Tanya Fritz, Director of Credentialing, Black Hills Works

DSP Certification (DSP-I, DSP-II, DSP-III)

Certification through NADSP acknowledges direct support professionals for their exemplary work in supporting people with disabilities. These various levels of certification including DSP-I, DSP-II, and DSP-III, recognize the knowledge, skills and values of direct support professionals, through participation in the NADSP E-Badge Academy. By earning individual electronic badges based on specific core competencies and hours of completed accredited education, direct support professionals have control and flexibility in their path of pursuing certification.

The achievement of certification with the NADSP E-Badge Academy entails robust requirements and high standards, through Web Courseworks, an intuitive and dynamic online platform. It allows for an enhanced experience for submitting, reviewing, tracking and sharing the contributions of Direct Support Professionals. In breaking down the competencies and accredited education into separate, distinct E-Badges, it also offers more opportunities to monitor progress and identify areas of improvement for direct support professionals.

DSP-I Certification

This is the first level of DSP-Certified, which direct support professionals can pursue following their attainment of the Code of Ethics Commitment E-Badge.

DSP-I Requirements

To earn the DSP-I Certification, you must earn 15 total E-Badges. These E-Badges must include:


  • The Code of Ethics Commitment E-Badge
  • The 50 hours of Accredited Education E-Badge
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Crisis Prevention and Intervention competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Safety competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Person-Centered Practices competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Health and Wellness competency area

DSP-II Certification

The second level of certification through DSP-II builds off of DSP-I, with more requirements for Core Competency and Accredited Education E-Badges. 

DSP-II Requirements

To earn the DSP-II Certification, you must earn 30 total E-Badges. These E-Badges must include:


  • The DSP-I E-Badge
  • The 100 hours of Accredited Education E-Badge
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Evaluation and Observation competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Communication competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Professionalism and Ethics competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Community Inclusion and Networking competency area

DSP-III Certification

DSP-III Certification is the highest level of credential that direct support professionals can achieve, representing a deep commitment to the people they support.

DSP-III Requirements

To earn the DSP-III Certification, you must earn 50 total E-Badges. These E-Badges must include:


  • The DSP-II E-Badge
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Empowerment and Advocacy competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Community Living Skills and Supports competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Education, Training, and Self-Development competency area
  • At least one Core Competency E-Badge from the Cultural Competence competency area

DSP Re-Certification (DSP-I, DSP-II, DSP-III, FLS)

Whether you earn your certification through our original portfolio process or through our current E-Badge Academy, you must complete a renewal application form every two years. After you complete the form, you will be directed to a payment page to submit your payment for your certification.

NADSP Certification (DSP-I, DSP-II, DSP-III, FLS) requires recertification every two years. By the end of your two-year term, you must complete/submit at least 20 hours of training. This training does not have to be NADSP-Accredited, but no more than 8 of the 20 hours can be from mandatory training requirements.

How does it all work?

NADSP has produced an in-depth presentation video about The NADSP E-Badge Academy, which includes detailed information about what the E-Badge Academy is, why it’s important, and how it helps direct support professionals get credit for competency.

The video also shares a demonstration of the Web Courseworks platform, the E-Badge submission/review process, and the use of ‘Mozilla Backpack’ for sharing E-Badges. You’ll also learn about the specific steps for getting started with The NADSP E-Badge Academy.

What are the next steps?

  1.  Your organization should complete the E-Badge Academy Inquiry Form to learn more about purchasing an E-Badge Academy subscription.
  2. Once you have submitted the E Badge Academy General Interest Form someone from NADSP will contact you to answer any questions and to provide you more information.
  3. Upon agreement by your organization, NADSP will send you a contract to purchase the E-Badge Academy for the number of identified users, detailed in our Pricing Guide. An invoice for the purchase price will be sent once the signed contract is received.
  4. With receipt of payment, NADSP will arrange for training of local administrators to enroll users as well as training to help users get started in the process of applying for E-Badges.
  5.  After users are enrolled in Web Courseworks, they may start to apply for badges, starting with the Code of Ethics Commitment E-Badge; share their accomplishments with others to demonstrate the impact they are having on people supported; and seek out more E-Badges to build upon their online folio and continuing their professional development.
  6.  As each user accumulates E-Badges, they can use them to apply for certifications from NADSP at the DSP-I, DSP-II, and DSP-III levels.

Get Started

To help direct support professionals begin their journey to certification through The NADSP E-Badge Academy, you need to first complete the Inquiry Form and submit it to NADSP.