DSP Cert Home

Developed in association with
The National Association of State

Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS)

NADD developed the NADD Competency-Based IDD/MI Dual Diagnosis Direct Support Professional Certification Program to certify the competency of DSPs who support people with dual diagnosis. 

DSP certification validates and provides assurance to individuals served, colleagues, and employers that a direct support professional has met the standards established by NADD for providing services to individuals with IDD/MI. 

DSPs who receive NADD certification will be entitled to use “NADD-DSP” as a credential.

In general, DSPs spend more time with the person with IDD/MI than any other professional. The competence of the DSP can make a big difference in the quality of life for people. DSPs are often the ones charged with supporting skill building. They help the person engage in recommended therapies on a day-to-day basis.  This work requires an advanced level of skill and knowledge to do well. 

An overview of the DSP Certification Program is available in the Executive Summary. For greater detail, see the Program Manual

The DSP seeking certification is required to demonstrate mastery of five competency areas.

Getting Started

Getting started in NADD’s DSP Certification Program is easy, and we’ve summarized each step in the process below.

For the full program requirements and details on each step in the process, click the link below to visit our Prerequisites and Application Information page to familiarize yourself with the details of NADD Certification.

NADD is here to answer your questions, help meet your specific needs, and provide information throughout the process: email us at dspcerts@thenadd.org.

Individual applications to our Certification Program will follow the process outlined below.

Organizations with multiple staff to certify may also follow this process on a case-by-case basis, and may also benefit from coordinated assistance from NADD if they wish to prepay for multiple certifications and ensure their staff are enrolled and processed smoothly. Please contact us at info@thenadd.org to discuss prepayment.

Steps in the Process

  1. Establish NADD Membership
    NADD Membership is a requirement for certification, and all employees of organizations with a NADD Organizational Membership receive member benefits through their employer. Membership Status is documented on your application and confirmed as we process your submission.

    If you’re not yet a NADD member  –  JOIN US!

  2. Pay your Application Fee
    NADD tiers our application fees to accommodate both Accredited and Non-Accredited Programs.

    To check if your program is NADD-Accredited, please visit our NADD-Accredited Programs Registry or to pay your Application Fee visit our NADD Store.

  3. Submit your Application
    Once your Application Fee has been paid, we will email you access to our easy online Application. You’ll find all the information about what you need for a successful application on our Prerequisites and Application Information page.

  4. Complete the Online DSP Examination
    Once your application has been completed we’ll give you unique login credentials that enable you to complete the NADD DSP Exam at your discretion.

  5. Enjoy the Benefits of NADD Certification
    NADD Certification is valid for 2 years, and entitles you to the credential NADD-DSP as a mark of your achievement.

  6. Recertification
    Renewing your NADD Certification is easy, and completed with an online application that documents your continuing education.