A fraud investigator, sometimes referred to as a forensic accountant or forensic auditor, is responsible for detecting and preventing financial crimes. Investigators may also be required to testify in court cases involving fraud or money laundering.
There are no degree programs specifically for fraud investigation, but a few universities offer graduate certificates. Some certificates are offered through extension programs, and the length of the program varies by institution. The most suitable candidates for a certificate program are entry-level accountants or graduates of a bachelor's degree program in accounting.
Graduate Certificate in Fraud Investigation
A bachelor's degree in accounting and GRE or GMAT scores are the primary requirements for admissions into a graduate certificate program in fraud investigation. Some schools also accept Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or current professional lawyers. Students learn about various types of fraud, sources of evidence and investigative techniques. Courses cover legal methods of handling fraud, interview and investigation methods, evidence management and ethics. Graduate certificate students also learn about the digital systems that can be put in place to prevent fraud. After gaining some work experience, fraud investigators can apply for certification from professional organizations. A graduate certificate program in fraud investigation usually covers the following topics:
- Fraud investigation techniques
- Interviewing skills
- Evidence handling
- Fraud data analysis
- Digital prevention and deterrence
- Fraud reporting tools
Employment Outlook and Career Info
In September 2019, PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary of forensic accountants was $69,926, close to the $70,500 median annual salary for all accountants and auditors as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2018. The BLS predicted an 6% increase in employment for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028.
Continuing Education Options
Fraud investigators can gain certification from organizations such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. No specific degree is required to earn certification, but applicants should have professional experience in fraud investigation, law, loss prevention, criminology and sociology, and accounting and auditing.
Supported by a background of experience, curious accounting professionals, or those seeking a change in their careers, might consider completing a certificate program in fraud investigation.