Getting a Job

If you are in the market for a new job, you may be concerned that your diabetes will stand in the way of getting the job you want.

A common question is whether you have to tell potential employers about your diabetes—or if you do tell them, how much do you share?

Disclosing Your Diabetes to Employers

You are not usually required to tell employers that you have diabetes.

In some professions, there are specific legal rules regarding certification and physical qualification, and you must disclose your diabetes in order to meet the job standards. But for the most part, there is no legal requirement to disclose a disability and the decision whether to tell an employer or potential employer is up to the individual.

Keep in mind, however, that anti-discrimination laws only provide protection from discrimination if the employer knows about the disability. Unless your employer has notice of your diabetes, you will not be able to prove that any discriminatory action was because of your disability.

Blanket Bans

Blanket bans—laws, regulations or policies that restrict a person from employment simply because of a disability—are illegal and medically inappropriate because they do not take into consideration the individual's qualifications and abilities.

Thanks to advances in law and medicine, there are no longer many jobs that are off-limits to people with diabetes.

Commercial drivers who treat their diabetes with insulin are now able to obtain Department of Transportation medical certification through a diabetes exemption program.

Fire fighters, police officers, and other law enforcement personnel now have the benefit of guidelines developed by diabetes health care professionals that assess whether the person is able to do the job, rather than automatically disqualify the person on the basis of a diabetes diagnosis.

In addition to these advances, individuals with diabetes have broken down barriers to employment as IRS agents, mechanics, court security officers, FBI Special Agents and plant workers.

Some Restrictions Remain

There are still some jobs that are restricted, usually because of insulin use.

Pilots with insulin-treated diabetes may obtain FAA third class airman medical certification, but may not obtain first class certification, which allows the pilot to operate large commercial planes.

Most branches of the military still restrict enlistment for individuals with both type 1 and 2 diabetes. The ban only applies to individuals in the uniformed services. People with diabetes serve in other capacities in the Department of Defense and as military contractors. In some situations, individuals with diabetes diagnosed after enlisting can remain in the service, usually depending on the individual's job and diabetes management. 

Pre-Employment Considerations

Once you've been given a conditional job offer—a job contingent on passing a physical examination—you may have questions about the scope of the examination your new employer will require.

Find information on employment examinations and what is and is not permissible.