DSP Apprenticeship Program

Multiple organizations have come together to form a public-private partnership to help address two crises in the state of Tennessee – how to get unemployed and under-employed Tennesseans back to work while addressing the shortage of individuals trained to provide long-term services and supports to some of our most vulnerable Tennesseans. This crucial shortage of Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) creates an opportunity for employment for individuals who have a desire to serve and improve the lives of others.

The partnership includes the QuILTSS Institute; Tennessee state government, led by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee, a managed care organization (MCO) that serves the state’s Medicaid population. State agencies including the Bureau of TennCare and the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) are committed to partnering with and growing opportunities for DSPs. Through this collaboration, the goal is to set the standard across the country for a higher skilled workforce.

Who are DSPs?

Direct Support Professionals work directly with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. They provide support, training, supervision and personal assistance to individuals in the home and community. The term DSP encompasses many titles, such as direct care worker, personal care assistant, residential aide, nursing assistant and many more. Direct Support Professionals do not yet have their own classification under the U.S. Department of Labor’s occupational standards, and many organizations are working to change this. Currently, DSPs are classified as Home Health Aides but the opportunities and roles available are much broader than this classification denotes.

The DSP Apprenticeship Program is a work-based learning model where, as an apprentice, you will receive supervised on-the-job training coupled with job-related online training to ensure you have the skills needed to be successful in your role as a DSP. As you complete training and achieve hours-worked milestones, you will earn increased wages totaling $3.50 or more per hour by the end of the one-year apprenticeship program. Once you have fully completed your program, you will earn a nationally recognized credential as a QuILTSS-certified DSP.

The QuILTSS Institute is the sponsor organization for DSP Apprenticeship and will work in partnership with your employer to meet your training needs. The Institute is dedicated to providing an affordable, comprehensive, quality training program to support opportunities for DSPs.

The apprenticeship is available to both new DSPs and those already working with a participating employer partner. So, if you support people with physical disabilities and/or intellectual disabilities, this program can help you get additional training and earn higher wages, too!

Regardless of whether you are new to the health care field or have been supporting individuals for years, the DSP Apprenticeship is a great opportunity to improve your career prospects in the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) setting.

If you would enjoy serving others as a direct support professional, 

the DSP Apprenticeship program is for you!

Want to Become an EMPLOYER PARTNER?

Thank you for your interest in the DSP Apprenticeship program, sponsored by The QuILTSS Institute. By becoming an employer partner and hiring one or more apprentices at your organization, you can expect to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Enhanced employee retention since the national average for apprenticeship completion is 94%
  • Increased talent pipeline where your positions are marketed to a diverse selection of a prospective DSPs
  • Decreased recruitment costs since much of the marketing will be done through state agencies
  • Potential funding opportunity from local workforce development boards to help offset the costs of training new apprentices
  • Access to an industry-leading, competency-based training program
  • More highly skilled workforce, leading to increased job satisfaction and better outcomes for those receiving services and supports.

If you would like to take the next step in becoming an employer partner, please click on the most appropriate link below.

Want to Become a DSP Apprentice?

Thank you for your interest in the DSP Apprenticeship program, sponsored by The QuILTSS Institute! We invite you to learn more and give thoughtful consideration to this unique opportunity.

As a DSP Apprentice, you will work for an employer who serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, often providing care in an individual’s own home. The QuILTSS Institute and your employer will help you learn what you need to know to be an effective and compassionate DSP.  Some of the benefits of participating in the DSP Apprenticeship program are: 

  • An environment where you have the support you need to develop, influence, and achieve your personal goals 
  • A step-by-step approach to gaining the job-specific knowledge and skills you need to be confident and competent in performing the requirements of your job
  • Guaranteed wage increases totaling $3.50 per hour as you progress through the apprenticeship program
  • Improved career pathways and promising opportunities for future professional growth 
  • Opportunity to work alongside experienced staff who can help teach you the most effective ways to accomplish your daily responsibilities
  • Access to training that is eligible for college credit through participating Tennessee community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

Successful completion of the DSP Apprenticeship program will take one full year and result in your earning the nationally recognized QuILTSS-certified DSP credential. If you would like to take the next step to becoming a DSP Apprentice, please click on the most appropriate link below.