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Diabetes Educator Job Description

Diabetes education, also known as diabetes self-management education, helps people who have or are at risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes education helps diabetics learn about the disease and develop the skills they need to manage it successfully by modifying their own behavior. This process involves the diabetic, his family or caregiver and the diabetes educator. The goal of diabetes education is to help the diabetic achieve and maintain optimal health and better qualify of life while reducing the need for costly medical treatment.

Knowledge and Skills

A diabetes educator must have in-depth knowledge of biology and social sciences and be skilled in communication and counseling. She focuses on seven specific behaviors which are essential for improving the diabetic patient's health and quality of life. These include "healthy eating, being active, (glucose) monitoring, taking medication, problem solving, healthy coping and reducing risks," according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators.


Most diabetes educators are registered nurses or dietitians, but pharmacists, physicians, mental health professionals, exercise physiologists, optometrists, podiatrists and other health-care professionals can also be diabetes educators. You learn to be a diabetes educator through a combination of professional experience, continuing education, study and mentorship. While most of your time will be spent with patients, you may have additional supervisory responsibilities. The median annual salary for a diabetes educator is $64,500.


About 40 percent of all diabetes educators practice in hospital outpatient settings, but they also work in doctor's offices, pharmacies, managed care organizations and home health-care agencies. Health insurance covers many of the services they provide. They work with individuals or groups, and their clients include the person with diabetes as well as the diabetic's caregivers.


A diabetes educator teaches the client about diabetes, nutrition, appropriate activity levels, glucose monitoring and medication if appropriate. As a diabetes educator, you must have a solid grounding in the science behind diabetes and its care. Each individual client has unique circumstances, requiring individualized instruction. You'll also use counseling skills as you help the client analyze his behavior and make educated decisions about diet and exercise.

Part of a Team

The AADE promotes a team approach to diabetes care. The team includes the patient and his family or caregiver, the diabetes educator and the primary care physician. Other team members might include a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist or a mental-health professional. The diabetes educator serves as the team leader and must be able to educate other members of the team, including other health-care professionals.

Advanced Certification

Some diabetes educators seek advanced certification as a certified diabetes educator or become BC-ADM: board certified in advanced diabetes management. These certifications include additional experience and education requirements.

Ongoing Support

Ongoing support by a variety of individuals, including diabetes educators, is important to a diabetic's improvement. With appropriate education and support, the diabetic patient can enjoy a better quality of life, with less need for costly health care.

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