What Does a Disability Support Worker Do? (With Key Skills)

Updated 22 March 2023

A disability support worker serves individuals or communities with mental and/or physical disabilities and aims to improve their quality of life. Their duties and work environments often vary according to the needs of those they care for. If you enjoy providing support and encouraging others to achieve their goals, understanding the role of a disability support worker may help you determine whether it's a good fit for you. In this article, we answer the question, 'What does a disability support worker do?' and provide information about disability support worker job requirements, salary, skills and various work environments.

What does a disability support worker do?

The answer to the question, ‘What does a disability support worker do?' is that they offer physical and emotional support for individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities. They aim to improve the quality of life of their clients by providing them with basic support requirements and finding ways to increase accessibility in their lives. Here are some of a disability support worker's primary duties:

Household chores

Many disability support workers perform household tasks for people with disabilities. Common responsibilities include grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and transportation. Many clients rely on their support workers to help with or perform these basic tasks when they're unable or restricted in their own abilities. As a support worker, you may communicate with your client to develop strategies for tasks and schedules that meet their needs.

Related: What Does a Home Care Worker Do? (With Duties and Skills)

Personal care

In addition to managing the household, many disability support workers provide personal care for clients. These tasks include assistance with daily activities, such as personal hygiene, dressing, attending work or school and transportation. As a disability support worker, you may help clients establish a care routine and provide physical aid for those with impaired or reduced mobility.

Related: How to Become a Personal Care Assistant (A Career Guide)

Educational assistance

Disability support workers who operate in academic environments or work with clients who attend school often provide support for educational tasks and learning. Professionals who work with clients with learning disabilities may attend classes with them to ensure the teacher provides accessibility or to help manage client behaviour and communication. They may also assist students with homework and provide additional information to improve their clients' understanding and abilities.

Related: What Does an Education Support Officer Do? (With Skills and Salary)

Emotional support

As a disability worker, you may work closely with a small number of clients to provide personalised care and develop relationships that allow you to offer emotional support and companionship. Establishing a connection with your clients can positively affect their outlook and quality of life. Offering this level of care requires interpersonal skills, empathy, patience and active listening. You may also provide mental health support and resources.

Related: What Does a Support Worker Do? (With Definition and Salary)

Additional duties

The role of a disability support worker requires other duties that contribute to client care and wellbeing. You may perform administrative tasks such as setting appointments, maintaining a schedule and preparing paperwork for your client. Duties such as communicating and advocating for individuals can also provide them with greater accessibility and help them perform everyday interactions. As a disability support worker, you often employ different skills to evaluate an individual's needs and complete any tasks necessary to provide them with a better quality of life.

Related: How to Become a Support Worker (with Qualifications and Skills)

Disability support worker requirements

Becoming a disability support worker requires you to develop and apply various skills and methods to ensure you can provide quality care and support for your clients. These roles typically require you to earn a certification and complete your employer's educational requirements. Here are some common qualification requirements for disability support worker roles:


Most employers looking to hire disability support workers favour candidates with a Vocational Education and Training (VET) certification on a subject related to disability support and mental health care. The most common of these include Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) and Certificate IV in Disability. These training programs and certificates teach strategies, skills and methods for disability support and provide clinical practice and training to reinforce your understanding and use of the skills.

General education

The general education requirement for disability support workers typically asks candidates to complete a minimum of Year 10. The employer or client may offer additional information, courses and education to improve your skills and qualifications. Including your highest level of education on your resume and describing any other professional training courses can convey your knowledge and experience and increase your chances of earning a position even without a formal educational background in the field.

Related: What Are Job Requirements? (With 8 Examples of Requirements)

Disability support worker salary

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

A disability support worker position can provide a fulfilling and profitable career for individuals looking to help others. The national average salary for a disability support worker is $33.42 per hour. Your exact earnings can vary depending on factors such as your location, job title, experience and employer. Earning certifications and completing higher education can also help you increase your salary and allow you to pursue higher-level positions.

Skills for disability support workers

The role of a disability support worker requires you to attain and apply many skills. These abilities ensure you provide the best support and care for clients. Here are some important skills for a disability support worker:


The role and duties of a disability support worker require strong communication skills. The role involves communicating information, tasks and instructions to clients and may require additional communication strategies to ensure they understand and retain information. Other communication skills, such as active listening and awareness of non-verbal cues, allow you to accurately assess, understand and meet any requirements the client tries to communicate to you.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Tips)


Working as a disability support worker requires you to exercise skills in patience to ensure the safety and care of others. Tasks and communications may take longer or become more complex depending on the abilities of the individual in your care. To exercise patience is to remain calm, caring and persistent during challenging or complex processes and tasks. You can improve your patience by researching methods for doing so or completing training programs and seminars.


Disability support workers use advanced problem-solving skills to create alternative solutions for certain tasks and promote a more accessible lifestyle for people with disabilities. Understanding effective problem-solving strategies can improve your ability to provide such solutions and resources that meet client needs. You can communicate with other disability support specialists or conduct research to find problem-solving methods that work for you and improve your ability to find new solutions. You may use problem-solving skills to suggest solutions and coping mechanisms for individuals with mental or physical disabilities.

Related: How to Become a Creative Problem Solver: A Definitive Guide

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills allow you to develop connections with individuals and can improve your ability to provide emotional support. Practices such as active listening, empathy and teamwork contribute to your overall interpersonal abilities. As a disability support worker, using interpersonal skills can increase the trust and effectiveness of your connection with others and allow you to develop a better understanding of individuals' requirements, abilities and emotions. Interpersonal skills develop and improve with practice, experience and concerted effort.


A disability support worker often collaborates and coordinates with clients, families, teachers or doctors to provide for individuals with disabilities. Teamwork skills allow you to communicate with these individuals and develop solutions that work for everyone. Common factors and practices for teamwork include communication, compromise, decision-making and listening. You can work to improve and exhibit teamwork skills through practice and experience.

Work environments for disability support workers

Depending on your specific role and duties, this position may involve working in a variety of locations. Here are some common work environments you may consider:

Residential environment

A disability worker who works directly with a single client or family may work in a residential environment. Some clients may even require live-in care that requires you to live in the client's home to provide consistent aid such as chores, transportation and supervision. This work environment allows you to connect with your client and provide both physical and emotional support constantly to improve their quality of life.

Academic environment

For a worker looking to support younger students and clients throughout their education, the academic work environment provides the resources and structure to help aid students and clients. Many workers operate in a classroom setting to assist clients with their school work, understanding and accessibility. This environment can offer more structure in terms of schedule and the relationship between clients and support workers.

Medical environment

A disability worker may also work in a medical centre or treatment environment to aid clients during various ailments, treatments and recovery periods. In this environment, you may perform tasks such as communicating with clients and doctors, providing emotional support and monitoring behaviours. A medical or care centre can provide a dynamic and fast-paced environment for support workers looking to connect with multiple clients and perform a wide range of duties.

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