General Information

While certification may be future goal for a health professional who elects to become a diabetes educator, it is not intended to serve as an entry level to the speciality. Rather, being a practice-based certification, it requires individuals to accrue professional practice experience prior to applying. This practice experience is necessary in order to master the knowledge and application of that knowledge associated with the specialty. A master level program is different than an entry level credentialing process where prior to taking it, individuals need only complete mandatory, prescribed, academic requirements, e.g., nursing license examination.

With this information in mind, It is critically important to understand at the outset that the Certification Examination for Diabetes Educators is designed and intended only for health professionals who have responsibilities that include the direct provision of DSME (as defined by NCBDE. See below for that definition).

Definition of Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) - 2017

DSME is performed by health professionals who have appropriate credentials and experience consistent with the particular profession's scope of practice. It involves the person with prediabetes or diabetes and/or the caregivers and the educator(s) and is defined as the ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skill, and ability necessary for self-care. For purposes of this web site, diabetes self-management education (DSME) is used.

It is a component of a comprehensive plan of diabetes care. The process incorporates the needs, goals and life experiences of the person with prediabetes or diabetes and is guided by evidence-based standards. The overall objectives of DSME are to support informed decision-making, self-care behaviors, problem-solving and active collaboration with the health care team and to improve clinical outcomes, health status, and quality of life.

For purposes of certification eligibility, some or all of the following components of the DSME process may be performed and counted towards meeting the DSME practice experience requirement:

  • An individual assessment and education plan developed collaboratively by the individual and educator(s) to direct the selection of appropriate educational interventions and self-management support strategies.
  • Educational interventions directed toward helping the individual achieve self-management goals.
  • Periodic evaluations to determine attainment of educational objectives or need for additional interventions and future reassessments.
  • A personalized follow-up plan developed collaboratively by the individual and educator(s) for ongoing self-management support.
  • Documentation in the education record of the assessment and education plan and the intervention and outcomes.

In addition, program development and administration provided in support of the diabetes patient education program are considered part of the DSME process.

Note:  Regardless of discipline, knowledge (and the ability to apply that knowledge) is necessary across all areas of the examination content outline.


Have you read the definition, but still are not sure about your experience? Click here for a FAQ that may be helpful to you.


±Adapted from National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support, American Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Recommendations. Diabetes Care, Vol. 37, Supplement 1, January 2014.

Click here to download‡ the informational brochure for the 2017 Examinations.

Eligibility Requirements for Initial Certification - 2017

For a diabetes educator who has not previously taken or passed the Examination or whose CDE® credentials expired prior to 12/31/2012 for 2017 applications, it will be necessary to complete a number of requirements prior to sitting for the Examination. An overview of requirements is shown below:

1) Meet the discipline/licensure requirement; then
2) obtain minimum professional practice experience providing DSME; as well as
3) obtain minimum continuing education hours; and lastly
4) apply and pay the application fee.

Click here for the details on the discipline requirement.
Click here for the details on the professional practice experience requirement.
Click here for the details on the continuing education hour requirement.
Click here to review the fee information.

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