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What training does a certified fraud examiner need?


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Program and career overview

American businesses lose about 5% of their annual revenues to fraud, according to a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

If you’re a business professional or a criminal justice worker, you might want to consider a certified fraud examiner education to learn just how and why fraud occurs—and how to prevent it.

Certified fraud examiners help identify cases of corporate or government fraud, investigate the details of specific fraud claims, and help bring wrongdoers to justice.

5 steps to become a certified fraud examiner

Earn your bachelor’s degree (at least).

smiling man with mortarboard at college graduation

You can find education programs for fraud examiners in business areas such as accounting, banking, business and finance, or in criminal justice and technology areas such as in criminal and civil legal proceedings and financial information technology. Some schools offer a major in fraud and financial crime investigation as part of a bachelor’s degree program, and there are master’s degree programs in financial crime and fraud management. 

Gain the necessary experience.

hands hold magnifying glass pore over stack of financial documents

You’ll need at least two years of qualifying experience in a field such as accounting, criminal justice, fraud investigation or a legal profession. The Association for Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) does forgo this requirement and offer certification eligibility to those hold a master’s degree or doctorate in accounting, finance or information security. 

Join the AFCE.

diverse group of fraud examiner professionals standing together with laptops and coffee

You’ll need to join the AFCE before you can take the certification exam. The agency offers students a package that includes a one-year membership plus an exam prep course for CFE certification. You must be a senior in an undergraduate program or be a graduate student to be eligible for the $399 package.

Pass the certification exam.

woman with headphones taking the cfe certification exam on laptop

The CFE exam tests applicants on their knowledge in four areas and you must pass with a score of 75% or higher. The sections are:

• Fraud Prevention and Deterrence
• Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes
• Investigation Methods
• Civil and Criminal Law

Once you pass the exam you must pledge to abide by the CFE Code of Professional Ethics. There are also other related professional certifications offered by different agencies that specialize in fraud careers and focus on cybersecurity, anti-money laundering, healthcare fraud and special investigations.

Find a job as a CFE.

serious looking woman shows male colleagues document

There are several resources available when you’re looking for a job as a CFE. the ACFE has a members-only job board, and several national recruiting agencies post listings. As an ACFE member you could network with other members or look into local financial institutions, state government agencies or credit agencies.

Am I a good candidate ?

A certified fraud examiner’s role is an interdisciplinary art, requiring a diverse set of skills. CFEs need investigative abilities as well as an education in finance and law. And a background in criminology doesn’t hurt. Investigators or legal professionals who have earned a criminal justice degree or accountants who specialize in auditing and analysis are good candidates for certified fraud examiner training.

Certified fraud examiners with a background in finance may work in the following settings:

  • Accounting companies
  • Consulting firms
  • Banking institutions
  • Insurance industry
  • Local, state, and federal government

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Reviewing statements and records for evidence of suspected fraud
  • Train employees to prevent future cases of fraud
  • Recognizing warning signs of potential wrongdoing

What you can do with CFE training

Regardless of where they work, the duties of a CFE may include interviewing suspects, testifying in court, doing background checks, investigating employee theft, forensic accounting, and many other tasks that root out fraudulent practices. Professionals with certified fraud examiner training are found in a number of different—but related—careers, including the following:

  • Audit consultant
  • Compliance officer
  • External or internal auditor
  • Financial analyst
  • Forensic accountant
  • Fraud analyst
  • Private investigator
  • Risk manager
  • Special agent

Education and certification

To become a certified fraud examiner, you need to pass an exam administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Most people who seek out CFE certification have a bachelor’s degree, or sometimes an associate’s degree plus on-the-job experience in fraud analysis. Others choose to pursue certified fraud examiner training as part of an MBA or other business-related degrees.

To be eligible for certification, the ACFE also requires two years of professional, fraud-related experience, either in direct fraud investigation, accounting or auditing work, fighting white-collar crime in a law enforcement or criminology career, corporate loss prevention, or fraud litigation. Finally, you’ll need to apply for and pass the CFE exam.

Salaries for certified fraud examiners

Certified fraud examiner training may lead to a number of different careers, so your salary will vary depending on your level of education, where you’re employed, and your particular job.

Career Median Annual Salary
Accountants and Auditors $78,000
Detectives and Criminal Investigators $86,280
Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators $72,230

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, 2022. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.