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 DE (as defined by NCBDE. See below for that definition).

Definition of Diabetes Education (DE) - 2017

Note: The 2017 National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (NSDSMES) reflect a change in terminology from ‘program’ to ‘services’, along with other revisions. Please refer to the NSDSMES standards for full details±.


Diabetes self-management education and support or DSMES, also referred to as diabetes self-management training or diabetes education, is performed by health professionals who have appropriate credentials and experience consistent with the particular profession’s scope of practice. For our purpose, diabetes education (DE) is used.


DE± 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 prediabetes and diabetes self-care, as well as activities that assist a person in implementing and sustaining the behaviors needed to manage the condition on an ongoing basis, beyond or outside of formal self-management training. 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. DE should include practical problem-solving approaches and collaborative care, address psychosocial issues, behavior change, and strategies to sustain self-management.

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

  • Assessment: The participant’s DE needs are identified. This process is led by the participant with assessment and support of the educator.
  • Education Plan: The participant’s individualized education plan is developed. The plan reflects the participant’s self-management goals and current evidence and practice guidelines and includes criteria for evaluating outcomes.
  • Interventions: Educational and behavioral interventions are delivered by the educator. The strategies are directed toward meeting the participant’s self-management goals.
  • Ongoing Support: Ongoing support options and resources are provided by the educator. The support option(s) is selected by the participant to best meet their self-management goals.
  • Participant Progress: The educator will monitor and communicate whether the participant is achieving their self-management goals and other outcome(s) to evaluate effectiveness of interventions. Additional assessments are based on the participant’s needs across the lifespan.
  • Documentation: The assessment and education plan, intervention, and outcomes will be documented in the participant’s health record.
  • Services Development/Administration: Development and administrative activities performed as part of DSMES services.

±Adapted from 2017 National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support, American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, Published online August 2017.

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.


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 DE; 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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