There are around 4 million Australians today living with disability. This translates to about 18% of the entire population. (Source)
Disability covers a broad spectrum, and some people may need more help with day-to-day tasks than others.
However, the fact still remains that the disability support sector is one that needs qualified people to join its ranks to provide care to some of the country’s most vulnerable community members.
If you are a compassionate, patient and positive person who is dedicated to ensuring a high quality of life for people living with disability, and who wants to follow a career in a stable, growing industry, then a career as a Disability Worker may be for you.
As a professional working in this industry, you may find that your daily duties can be quite varied.
As a Disability Support Worker, you will be primarily assisting people living with disability in their daily lives. You could be working at a facility, or you could be providing in-home support for people who maintain some independence.
The term ‘disability’ is a very diverse one, and people living with disability come from a wide range of socioeconomic groups and demographics, and require varying levels of assistance and support.
As a Disability Support Worker, it is likely that part of your day will involve providing personal care to your clients, among other things. This could include:
Your other duties could include:
While the occurrence of disability increases with age, a Disability Support Worker is not the same as an Aged Care Worker.
An Aged Care Worker will work with elderly people who are living in their own homes or in an aged care facility. Their primary focus is on the health and wellbeing of older people, and helping them perform their daily activities.
For more information on how to become an Aged Care Worker, you can read our article here.
The government’s job outlook website predicts that by 2023, there will be approximately 245,000 people employed within the aged and disabled support industry.
In 2018, there were 175,800 people employed in this industry. That’s a predicted jump of 39% in just five years.
With the number of Australians living with a disability increasing, this industry needs qualified professionals more than ever.
With a relatively low unemployment rate, a job in this sector is one that will be both challenging yet rewarding, as well as stable and reliable, and offering room for growth.
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0), May 2018, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.\
As the above graph shows, a Disability Support Worker’s salary is slightly less than the all jobs national average. However, the government’s job outlook website confirms that your salary as a Disability Support Worker will generally increase over time and as your experience grows.
Disability Support Workers’ working hours average 43 hours a week, which is one hour less per week than the national jobs average.
However, only 33% of people employed in this area work full-time. Most work part-time, which is good news for people who are looking for a flexible yet stable career.
You do not need a formal education to become a Disability Support Worker, but having a qualification certainly helps.
Like most industries, if you want to progress in the disability support sector, you may want to consider formalising your experience or pursuing high education to gain new skills and knowledge that will help you step up in your career.
If you are looking to enter the industry, then a qualification will help your resumé stand out, and can teach you valuable skills that you would otherwise have to learn on-the-job.
Obtaining a Certificate IV in Disability is one way to help you get a foot in the door when applying for jobs within the disability support sector.
Alternatively, if you have a more focused goal in mind, you could undertake a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) to help you on your career path – whether you are trying to break into the industry, or want to upskill.
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
As the above graph demonstrates, most people employed within the disability support sector hold a Certificate III or Certificate IV. You will be competing for employment with other people who will likely hold a formal qualification, so pursuing higher education yourself is a worthwhile undertaking.
There are many job opportunities within the disability support sector for people who are patient, flexible, supportive and compassionate, and have a real interest in helping people living with disability.
Beyond the role of a Disability Support Worker, there are many other career opportunities in this area.
Disability Team Leader
Lead and mentor people in your team to provide professional support and care to clients. You could support coordination of the NDIS (National Disability Scheme) for applicable clients, and oversee the on boarding of new clients.
Behavioural Support Officer
Organise and lead opportunities for clients that focuses on providing positive behavior support for clients. This may include creating positive behavioural support plans, as well as the ongoing assessment and monitoring of clients.
Special Needs Teacher’s Aide
Support children living with a disability in a classroom environment and help them learn and grow. You could also undertake Open Colleges’ Certificate III in Education Support to further your own education.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Most people employed in this industry work in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector (an overwhelming 88%), which is followed by Public Administration and Safety (6.4%) and then Administrative Support Services (2.5%).
Studying an online course with Open Colleges will allow you to pursue a fulfilling career which allows you to help people living with disability to have dignified, fulfilling lives.
By studying online, you can study anywhere and at any time that suits you. There are no classrooms to attend, so you can fit your study sessions around your life.
And with a dedicated student support team just a phone call away, we’re here to help you with any questions you might have during your course.
Are you ready to take the first step towards a highly rewarding career helping people living with a disabilty? Take a look at our Disability Support course page or download a free course guide today. Or, if you’d prefer to speak to a professional enrolment consultant about your next move, you can call us on 1300 930 822.
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