In order to become a diabetes care specialist, individuals must first meet the educational requirements to become certified and gain the proper training. This profession requires a high level of education in diabetes management. In some states, individuals are required to have a master’s degree in order to qualify for the Certified Diabetes Educator designation, but typically, all that is needed is a bachelor's degree in nutrition and/or dietetics.
High School Preparation
Aspiring diabetes care specialists and educators begin their path in high school by taking health, biology, physical education, chemistry, algebra and communications classes. These classes prepare students for the more advanced subjects to come in college and beyond, and start to give students a feel for whether they enjoy or excel at this type of work.
Degree in Nutrition
In order to become a diabetes care specialist or diabetes educator, a candidate must first become a dietitian specialist. Obtaining a degree in nutrition and/or dietetics from a university accredited by the American Dietetic Association will give aspiring diabetes educators the knowledge needed to become a dietitian. A bachelor’s degree, along with an approved internship, is typically the least amount of education needed to become a dietitian and diabetes care specialist.
Certified Diabetes Educator
After college, dietitians should apply for the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) certificate. Individuals may also earn a degree in nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, physical therapy or pharmacology to obtain this certification. Beyond a bachelor's degree, a minimum of two years of experience working with diabetics or in a related field will also be required to be considered for the CDE. Candidates must also have a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education relating to diabetes care prior to taking the exam.
Diabetes care specialists must show their ability to lead and help patients make effective decisions, and they must have excellent communication skills. One of the primary duties of a diabetes educator is to educate newly diagnosed patients about diabetes and what can be done to stay healthy. Specialists need to develop good patient-doctor relationships as well as the ability to help patients create long-term health strategies. Specialists must be able to teach patients how to use blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, insulin pens and glucose monitors.