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Do I Need Qualifications to be a Disability Support Worker?

Posted 6 months ago by Alison Rodriguez

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Does the thought of providing individualised care and support for people with disabilities in their homes, residential facilities, clinics and/or hospitals sound exciting? Becoming a disability support worker is not as hard as you may think. Keep reading to see how and when you can get started pursuing this incredibly rewarding career.

To obtain a job as a disability support worker, most organisations don’t require formal qualifications. However, achieving higher education can definitely strengthen your application. For most, similar experience of at least 6 months, obtaining National background checks and holding a current Australian Drivers license is usually enough to obtain a position. 

Supporting people with a disability to learn how to be independent, meet new people and try different experiences is a challenging but fulfilling career choice. This post aims to help those looking to become one of these special disability support workers, even if you don’t have formal qualifications. 

Make Your Resume Stand Out Without Formal Qualifications

Though most employers don’t require formal qualifications, there are things you can do to strengthen your application above other candidates. 

  1. Experience. Obtain care experience in an area of interest such as aged care, youth services, personal one-on-one private care, school aid, etc. This could be on a volunteer basis or as part of a traineeship where you work and study simultaneously for a set number of hours per week. Showing you have experience working in disability proves to a future employer you have the skills, confidence and know-how to manage challenging situations, but it also importantly allows you to obtain references who can recommend your skills when applying for a future job.

  2. You. Show you have the persona and personal attributes to be successful in the role. Genuinely demonstrate you work with your people, not just for them. If you are new to this kind of work, be proactive, taking the time to understand what’s involved in the role before committing to a new job. 

  3. Obtain your Australia Drivers license and have (or have access to) a reliable car that can be used to transport clients on a regular basis.

  4. Successfully obtain your first-aid certificate. Most employers will deem this a non-negotiable part of the application process and it’s handy to be on the front foot. There is normally a small cost necessary to complete this course which you or a kind employer will need to pay, but it’s often tax-deductible as a work-related expense. 


Disability Support Work Qualifications

A time could come after employment as a disability support worker where your employer may ask you to obtain further qualifications. This may be due to a particular client/s needs, the rules and regulations of the center/facility where you work or simply your employer trying to educate and further their staff to have the theory behind their practice, strengthening the care they provide.

But you might be thinking, what are these qualifications? Who pays for me complete them? Do I need to go to university?

I know it may seem like an annoyance and even a “drag” obtaining a qualification but don’t be too worried or scared if you haven’t studied for a while, or at all. You’re not the first person to undertake such a course in the workforce. There will most likely be resources in place to assist both logistically with time off to complete written tasks and even financially to assist with paying for the course.

These courses build confidence, further your practical experience to work in a variety of settings and can lead to increased job opportunities like team-leading. Most of the certificates recommended can be completed over less than a year, have government support and payment plans making the process achievable.

Such courses are:

  • Certificate IV in Disability 

  • Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) 

  • Certicate II in Community Services


On the other hand, if you are currently studying to become a nurse, social worker, physiotherapist or another profession within the health/care industry, employers may not push you to obtain a certificate such as those listed above as the skills required are transferable from your current study. This is something to consider if you have aspirations to obtain a bachelor’s degree within the health field and want to gain real-life experience at the same time. 

Other Necessary Requirements to Become A Disability Support Worker

  • National Police Check 

  • Working with Children Check. There are different kinds of checks depending on the state you work within Australia. They also differ for volunteers or paid employees. So it’s best to wait until you’re asked to complete one before commencing the application process. These checks generally last for multiple years too.

  • Provide a current First Aid Certificate.

  • An Australian driver’s license and vehicle to transport clients to and from their home/residence.

Personal Requirements to Become a Disability Support Worker

Whilst having a certificate or even a bachelor’s degree is an impressive start, you need to have the passion and desire to help other people every day to find fulfillment in your job.

Read through the following list and think to yourself, does this sound like me? 

  • Patient, calm, flexible and understanding

  • Resourceful. Can I work independently and think on my feet?

  • Supportive, caring and committed to helping others live their best life 

  • Able to accept responsibility for your own work and be honest when something isn’t right

  • Excellent communicator who is able to work part of a team

  • Physically able to cope with the demands of the job

  • Positive and optimistic

  • Accepting of the shiftwork lifestyle. Depending on the type and location of work you may be required to undertake night shift, afternoon shifts and weekends. Will this work for you and your family?

Summary: Do I Need Qualifications to be a Disability Support Worker?

Though you don’t necessarily require formal training to become a disability support worker, applications with extensive experience or those who have taken the time to complete a certificate in the field will often be looked upon favorably. 

Though often challenging, the life of a disability support worker is full of variety, work-life balance due to varying shift times and incredible personal reward. So if you’ve answered all the questions above and feel like this is a career you’d like to give a go, then we would suggest “what are you waiting for?”. Stop procrastinating and go get started!

If you are looking for work as a Disability Support Worker, be sure to visit our Job Board: https://www.edmencss.com.au/job-search 

Emma Smith

The Other Shift (theothershift.com)