How to Become a Developmental Care Worker


If you want to become a developmental care worker, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for this field:


• You have a comprehensive understanding of developmental disabilities

• You are interested in helping those with special needs integrate into the community

• You are able to create effective plans to teach new skills and behaviours

• You are able to work with people of various ages who may be under physical or emotional stress

• You have patience and empathy when assisting those with disabilities


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a developmental care worker. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Developmental Care Worker

Although the educational requirements for working in this field vary, employers generally prefer to hire graduates of related post-secondary diploma programs. Related fields generally include those that relate to nursing, social work, psychology, and other fields.


Students who pursue diploma programs in developmental care and related areas are often required to participate in work placements. These work placement opportunities are highly valuable to careers in developmental care, as they allow the student to gain valuable real-world experience, while also making connections with employers that can hire them after graduation.





General Job Description

Developmental care workers are responsible for enhancing the physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals with special needs. They accomplish this by supporting and assisting individuals with disabilities in many ways, such as teaching life skills, creating community involvement and participation, and assisting with daily tasks such as medical and financial administration.


Developmental care workers are also responsible for preparing reports, updating the job knowledge of the client and monitoring health care supports.



Typical Job Duties

• Complete daily living tasks with or for the client, such as washing, dressing and eating

• Assist client with administering medication

• Provide companionship and support during daily activities

• Create effective plans to teach new skills and behaviours

• Create plans to reinforce and maintain effective skills and positive behaviours over time

• Report to coordinators and assistant coordinators

• Perform household management duties

• Maintain a clean and safe environment for the client

• Work with a team of health professionals, family, friends and other caregivers

• Perform emergency procedures if necessary



Who Employs Them?

Development care workers may be employed on a part-time, full-time or contractual basis by the following types of public and private organizations:


• Hospitals and other healthcare facilities

• Public and private schools

• Home care programs

• Continuing care centres

• Mental health agencies and institutions

• Vocational rehabilitation programs

• Community organizations

• Correctional facilities





Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as a developmental care worker, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• Comprehensive understanding of developmental disabilities

• Able to create effective plans to teach new skills and behaviours

• Able to effectively reinforce skills and positive behaviours

• Able to safely administer medication

• Able to perform domestic duties with efficiency

• Able to work with people of various ages who may be under physical or emotional stress

• Proficiency in sign language is often considered an asset

• Able to communicate with clients using a variety of methods, such as using picture symbols



Helpful Personal Characteristics to Have

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a developmental care worker, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties as a developmental care worker is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• Enjoy helping those with special needs and their families

• Patience and empathy when assisting those with disabilities

• Emotional and physical strength and stamina required to assist people who have disabilities

• Responsibility and accountability

• Enjoy working as part of a team

• Enjoy creative and manual activities such as crafts, music, carpentry and sewing

• Able to follow directives



Average Salary Level in This Field

The salary level of developmental care workers can vary, depending on factors such as:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience and aptitude

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


There is no salary information available from reliable sources specifically for developmental care workers. However, we can get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary levels of workers in closely related occupations.


Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services occupational group earn an average overall salary of $44,800 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Psychiatric Technicians and Aides occupational group is $27,440 per year.



Job Postings

Our job board below has developmental care worker postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, when available:




Work Environment

Setting: Developmental care workers can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, continuing or long-term care facilities, community facilities rehabilitation facilities, schools and private homes (some developmental care workers may be required to live in the home).


Conditions: Developmental care workers are often subject to high-stress work environments. Working with individuals who have special needs and developmental disorders requires a lot of physical and emotional strength and stamina, as well as patience and empathy.


Hours: Many developmental care workers work regular, daytime hours. Their working hours can vary however, depending on the needs of the client and the employer, and it is not uncommon for evening and weekend work to be required of developmental care workers. 



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'Developmental Care Worker', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Behavioural Therapist

Health Care Aide

Life Skills Coach

Mental Health Counselor

Occupational Therapist Assistant




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession.


Healthcare: Psychiatric Technicians and Aides.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 10, 2019.

Faculty of Health and Personal Care:Developmental Support Worker.” (n.d.). Academy Canada website. Retrieved November 10, 2019.

Education, Community & Social Services:Developmental Services Worker / Special Needs.” (n.d.). Ontario Colleges website. Retrieved November 10, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Developmental Care Worker

The 'Applicable Majors' section below shows fields of study relevant to a career in this field. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on the following pages:


Nursing Scholarships

Psychology Scholarships

Social Work Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a developmental care worker. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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