It’s an occupation that few people know about, yet it is one of the fastest growing and most rewarding careers in Ohio.

The career is one of Direct Support Professional and it involves helping people with developmental disabilities accomplish their goals at home, on the job and everywhere else in the community.

In an effort to locate interested, compassionate people who want more than just a job, the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities have launched an awareness campaign to help local agencies and non-profit organizations in their staff recruitment efforts.

"The demand for direct support professionals in Ohio is high, but the job is not generally well-known," said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams. "This campaign is intended to find compassionate people to fill the growing need of our provider partners."

According to Williams, direct support is about helping people of all abilities live their lives and achieve their goals. That can mean providing support where a person works or in their home doing things like cooking, cleaning and providing personal care. It can also include taking people to and from work, appointments and even recreational activities and volunteering.

"Direct support offers variety and flexibility, so it’s ideal for someone who doesn’t necessarily like the traditional 8 to 5 job," Williams added. "It’s also one of the few jobs where you may find yourself accompanying someone to a ballgame or concert and get paid for doing so."

Because agencies are finding it difficult to find staff to meet the need, some are using creative ways to attract employees, like offering referral bonuses to existing staff and providing sign-on bonuses for new employees.

The awareness campaign directs job seekers to DSPOhio, a statewide effort of the Ohio Provider Resource Association. The DSPOhio.org website lists, by county, jobs available from participating provider agencies and non-profit organizations.

"As a DSP, you are helping people remain happy, healthy and safe," Williams said. "It’s hard work, but if you’re looking for a career where you can make a difference, this is it.