Specialist 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 Specialist Certification Program to improve the quality and effectiveness of services provided to individuals with a dual diagnosis through the development of competency-based professional standards and through promoting ongoing professional development.  

Specialist certification through NADD validates and provides assurance to people receiving services, professional colleagues, employers, and third-party payers that a specialist has met the standards established by NADD for providing services to individuals with IDD/MI.  Certification attests to the specialist’s competency in providing these services. 

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

A Specialist in the field of dual diagnosis is defined as an individual who delivers, manages, trains and/or supervises services for persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and mental health needs.  Staff working in units of county, state or provincial government, QIDPs, program directors, program supervisors, case/care managers, program specialists, supports coordinators, peer specialists, trainers and others are examples of roles that can apply for the Specialist certification.

An overview of the Specialist Certification Program is available below, and in the Executive Summary

For greater detail, see our Prerequisites & Application Information page (linked below) or consult the Program Manual.

The Specialist seeking certification is required to demonstrate mastery of six competency areas.

Getting Started

Getting started in NADD’s Specialist 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 specialistcerts@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.

    Complete the Certification Process
    Once your application has been completed and accepted we’ll  guide you through the certification process, and you’ll find all the information necessary for successfully completing certification on our Prerequisites and Application Information page.
  4. Enjoy the Benefits of NADD Certification
    NADD Certification is valid for 2 years, and entitles you to the credential NADD-DDS as a mark of your achievement.


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