The CDC shows that 11.3 of the U.S. population has diabetes and 38% of the population has pre-diabetes. A further 23% of adults have diabetes but are undiagnosed. With the rise in the prevalence of diabetes, the need for specialized professionals to deliver quality diabetes care and education has grown significantly.

Among these professionals are Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (DCESs), previously known as Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs), who play an essential role in managing diabetes and its complications.

In order to enhance their professional credibility and ensure a high level of expertise, many of these specialists pursue a CDCES certification. In this article, we’ll examine the CDCES exam and the average salary for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists.

Understanding the CDCES Certification

The Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE) offers the CDCES certification, a voluntary credential for health professionals specializing in diabetes education. The CDCES exam is a comprehensive examination that validates the knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals in the area of diabetes management and education.

Earning the CDCES certification means that the healthcare professional has demonstrated a broad and deep understanding of diabetes care and education, allowing them to better assist patients in managing their condition.

A diabetes care specialist pricks the finger of a patient.

CDCES exam details

The CDCES exam is comprehensive, covering a broad range of topics related to diabetes care and education. It’s designed to assess the candidate’s ability to apply that knowledge in practical scenarios successfully. Areas of focus include:

  1. Assessment of the Diabetes Continuum: This includes knowledge of the pathophysiology of diabetes, assessment and monitoring of the disease, and knowledge of insulin and other medications used in its management.
  2. Planning and Intervention: This section assesses the ability to develop, implement, and assess educational and clinical strategies for individuals and groups.
  3. Disease Management: This includes knowledge of acute and chronic complications, strategies for promoting mental health, and knowledge about strategies for reducing risks and promoting self-care behaviors.
  4. Professional Practice: This section tests knowledge about healthcare policy, healthcare systems, and quality improvement in the context of diabetes care.

The CDCES exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions, 25 of which are pretest questions that are not scored. Candidates are given four hours to complete the exam. It’s crucial to prepare thoroughly, using study guides and resources provided by the CBDCE and other reputable sources.

Requirements for the CDCES Exam

Before sitting for the CDCES exam, there are certain requirements that must be met:

  • Hold a current, active, unrestricted license in a healthcare field that allows the individual to practice within the scope of diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) or have a minimum of a master’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Have a minimum of two years of professional practice experience in diabetes self-management education.
  • Accumulate a minimum of 1000 hours of DSMES experience.
  • Successfully complete a unique qualifying case study demonstrating the ADCES7 Self-Care Behaviors™ application.

Once the certification is earned, it is valid for five years. After this, CDCESs can recertify by retaking the examination or accruing continuing education credits.

Average Salary for a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years spent in the profession. As of 2023, the average annual salary of a Diabetes Care and Education Specialist in the United States is $77,366 according to ZipRecruiter.

However, with the CDCES credential, professionals often earn more than their non-certified counterparts. This is because certification often signifies higher expertise and dedication to the field.

The CDCES certification offers many rewards, including increased credibility and the potential for a higher salary. It ensures that the healthcare professional possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver the best possible diabetes care and education. If you’re considering taking this career path, rest assured that your efforts will lead to personal and professional growth and significantly impact the lives of people with diabetes.