Direct Support Education Degree


The Direct Support Education Program offers an Associate in Science degree and a Certificate of Achievement. The Program is designed for students interested in seeking employment working in the field of developmental disabilities. The Program will equip current and future professionals to be more effective communicators with others and in understanding the system that is part of the developmental disabilities field. Students will learn general guidelines and documentation methods and the importance of confidentiality as well as how to support people in effectively and safely managing their basic health needs including self-advocacy and safety. Courses also cover topics that deal with a wide variety of personal perspectives, cultures, and life circumstances. Students will examine general learning principles to communicate with others more effectively in a variety of settings.

This Program is designed to confer an Associate in Science in Direct Support Education degree upon successful completion of all requirements.

Link to learn more about the Direct Support Education Certificate of Achievement.

Earnings Potential

An associate degree in direct support education offers you the salary potential of $35,566 two years after graduation from Taft College, with expected increases to $38,094 at five years, based on five-year studies of graduates by California Community Colleges. These do not reflect salaries with a four-year degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage is $37,610 for social and human service assistants; and $29,570 for home health and personal care aides in residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities. For careers with a minimum of a four-year degree, options include rehabilitation counselor with a median annual wage of $38,560; and special education teacher at $61,820, among other careers. The BLS projects job growth of a remarkable 25% for home health and personal care aides from 2021 to 2031.2

1 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Salary Surfer. 2021. Accessed 19 April 2023.

2 “Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 8 Sept. 2022. Accessed 19 April 2023.

Program Requirements

To earn an Associate in Science in Direct Support Education, students must complete: (1) all course requirements with a minimum grade of “C” in each course; and (2) complete General Education Graduation Requirements with an overall GPA of 2.0 or better.

See the degree requirements in the Taft College Catalog. Please note: This links to an external website.

Program Learning Outcomes

After completing the Direct Support Education major, a student will be able to:

  1. Develop cultural awareness and understand how to work with people who have a wide variety of personal perspectives, cultures, and life circumstances.
  2. Learn methods of working with people who engage in challenging behaviors in ways that are fair, safe, humane, and effective in reducing their use of problem behaviors.
  3. Recognize the general guidelines for documentation, recording effective documentation, the importance of confidentiality, and the rights and issues as they relate to individuals with disabilities.
  4. Understand how to support people effectively and safely when managing their medications.
  5. Understand the history, language, and the basic concepts of services for persons with disabilities.
  6. Understand what abuse, neglect, and exploitation are, how to identify suspected cases, how to protect the person who has been the victim of these situations, and how to document these situations effectively.

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