A diabetes counselor, who is typically a healthcare professional, helps people adjust to life with diabetes. Either an undergraduate or graduate degree may be required, as it varies by employer. Certification is available to become an official diabetes educator.
Diabetes counselors or educators work with patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes and counsel them on lifestyle changes to help them manage the disease. They may go over proper nutrition, exercise routines, blood glucose monitoring and medication dosages. A bachelor's degree in a healthcare field is a minimum requirement for these careers, though many diabetes counselors or educators have graduate degrees and certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree at minimum; graduate degrees are common|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||12% for all health educators|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)*||$56,690 for all health educators|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Diabetes Counselor Education Requirements
Diabetes counselors should be healthcare professionals, such as clinical psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, dietitians, physicians or registered nurses (RNs), who are also certified diabetes educators or are eligible for certification. Education requirements vary by profession, but a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement. For many qualifying healthcare professions, a graduate degree is required. Healthcare professionals need to be licensed or certified in their profession and licensing requirements can vary.
Certification for diabetes educators is offered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (www.ncbde.org). To qualify for certification as a diabetes educator, a person should have at least two years of professional experience in his or her discipline, at least 1000 hours of experience in diabetes education and at least 15 hours of continuing education related to diabetes. Those who meet these requirements may take the Certification Examination for Diabetes Educators to earn the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) designation. Certification must be renewed every five years, either through continuing education or reexamination.
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Diabetes Counselor Career Information
Diabetes counselors play an important role in helping patients manage their diabetes. They may meet with individuals or with groups. They collect information from patients to assess their health statuses and develop individualized education plans. Some topics that they may counsel patients on include taking insulin, measuring blood sugar levels and making dietary changes. Diabetes counselors also conduct follow-up assessments of patients to determine the effectiveness of their education plans. If a patient's needs fall out of the diabetes counselor's scope of practice, then he or she may refer the patient to the appropriate services. When they are not counseling patients, diabetes counselors may also evaluate other staff members, develop educational materials and participate in quality control measures to help improve diabetes education programs.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that health educators, an occupational group that includes diabetes counselors, will see a faster than average job growth of 12% over the 2014-2024 decade. Health educators made an average annual salary of $56,690 in May 2015.
Diabetes counselors rearrange a patient's lifestyle to meet diabetic restrictions, helping them manage the disease. Those seeking a job in the fast-growing health education field should already be employed in a healthcare profession with a bachelor's degree or higher. Then, they have the choice of becoming a certified diabetes educator, which requires experience, training and an examination.