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Is a Career as a Developmental Services Worker for You?

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: March 22, 2022

Is a Career as a Developmental Services Worker for You?

Helping others achieve their best life possible is one of the driving factors that encourages developmental services workers to work so hard at their jobs. It’s a diverse role with a fast pace (because it is human-centric) and significant personal rewards. But is it right for you?

As a leading provider of a Developmental Services Worker Program, our faculty at Ashton College know how to be incredibly successful in their field. Here are four common elements to success stories that may help you determine if this career is right for you.

1. You believe in an inclusive society

One of the biggest aspects that determines your successful fit as a developmental services worker is that you truly believe that everyone; regardless of background, culture, economical status, mobility, disability, age, etc. should be included in everyday life. You think it’s horrible that there are still situations in the world where individuals are kept from their community because of how they are perceived or disabilities they live with.

All of the numerous roles in the field of developmental services workers help people become their best selves and live optimally. Developmental services workers aid people to achieve the best physical, mental and emotional health that they can thereby ensuring a positive, fulfilling life. Fulfillment is a key point, because working with individuals who need assistance provides you with a sense of fulfillment. You know that you’re helping create an inclusive society.

Whether you choose to work in addiction recovery, public schools, residential group homes or any other of the numerous options, your key goal is to see individuals thrive and you believe this happens in an inclusive world. While you work directly with individuals to be active participants in their community/society, you also express your beliefs about inclusivity whenever possible.

2. You work well on your own, but value a team’s input

Pretend that, upon graduation, your choice is to pursue a career in after-school support programs for middle-grade students from low-income homes. Most often, these programs are offered through a local school district or a municipality’s recreational offerings. Whether you work for the school district or the municipality, your duties will most likely overlap with a co-worker’s. This can create some complexity as each environment will have a different format for how individuals work together.

Wherever possible, strive to be a good partner with those you work with. Not only will this ensure a positive working relationship, it will also create a much more harmonious environment that the people you work with will pick up on. This, in turn will give everyone the ability to consider different and better ways to serve people optimally.

3. Hang on to your sense of humour

Working in developmental services means there will be moments that are definitely not fun or funny. There will be times when you assumed a life skill had been learned and absorbed. Then, it suddenly goes absent from the repertoire of the person you are helping; or an individual with a drug addiction and behavioural challenges has a massive outburst. It can be natural to lose both your perspective and your sense of humour in these situations.

It is important to remember that these challenges are just brief moments in time. Find the positives in what is happening. Is it that the individual with the addiction is showing they are comfortable enough to express themselves around you? Are they communicating in a new way? More often than not, there will be little things that make the situation amusing if you look for them.

Look for the unexpected humour where you can. And, if you think you can make the humour mesh with the personality of the individual you’re working with, share it. Create a point of trust based on a common appreciation of the humour. However, keep in mind that not everyone understands or appreciates humour. This is one of those moment where knowing the person you work with will guide your choices.

4. Work on specific skills to benefit your work

Every job has skills that, when focused on and improved, will make people better at the role they’ve chosen. When working in developmental services, primarily, the focus is on communication and instructing – which you may have guessed. Work on your communication skills with online communication courses. However, two other key areas you might not have considered are social perceptiveness and critical thinking.

Social perceptiveness is the ability to identify why individuals respond or react the way they do, which is essential when dealing with people who are uncomfortable or may be unable to verbalize their needs. Some individuals are physically unable while others have experienced trauma or shame that prevents or deters them from talking.

Critical thinking is the identification of strengths and weaknesses inherent in various solutions to a problem. This too is key in the role of an individual who has chosen developmental services because of the need to consider various approaches and choose the best one for the situation being faced at the time.

Fortunately, for those who take a developmental services worker program online, or in-person, learning these skills is part of the curriculum plus there are a number of books, workshops and online tools to help advance these skills outside of the course itself.

Chances are, if you clicked on this blog (and have now read to the end!), you are a great fit as a developmental services worker because all of these points resonated with you. If you feel you’ve found your fit, do some research on the education institutions (like Ashton College), and potential career options, that will help you achieve your goals.



The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.


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