Be a Fraud Examiner: Education and Career Roadmap

Jul 16, 2018

Learn how you can become a fraud examiner. Step by step, explore the education, experience and certification required to start a career in fraud examination.

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Fraud Examiners

Fraud examiners, also referred to as fraud investigators, find evidence, take statements, and write reports about accusations of fraud. Sometimes they have to testify in court. Some individuals may find presenting evidence in public stressful. Fraud examiners might also coordinate and supervise fraud prevention activities for clients.

Career Skills & Info

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Related field, such as business administration, finance, information systems or mathematics
Certification Voluntary professional certification is available
Experience 2-5+ years of related work experience; at least two years of experience are required for certification
Key Skills Critical thinking; listening; decision making; knowledge of field specific policies, procedures, and laws; strong written and verbal communication skills
Salary (2015) $64,300 (average for claims examiners, investigators, and adjusters)
Career Outlook Claims examiners, investigators, and adjusters can look for a 3%, or slower-than-average, growth in jobs between 2014 and 2024

Sources: Online job listings from employers (January 2013), Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), O*Net Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Let's look at the education, experience, and certifications that can help you qualify for a job as a fraud examiner.

Step 1: Bachelor's Degree

Most fraud examiners need at least a bachelor's degree to obtain a job and professional certification. Relevant programs include a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting and fraud examination or Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting Fraud Examination. Common courses cover topics in detection and prevention, interviewing techniques, professional ethics, and business law. A major in finance, information system, or mathematics may also help a candidate qualify for a position as a fraud examiner.

Success Tip:

Maintain a clean record. Fraud examiners undergo intense scrutiny and background checks when they enter the profession, and they're expected to continue to exhibit model behavior during their careers. A criminal record or a lack of reliable character references can become a barrier to certification as a fraud examiner.

Step 2: Experience

Employers typically look for fraud examiners with at least two to five years' related experience. Additionally, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) requires candidates for certification to have two years of experience in a field related to fraud detection or deterrence. These include auditing, criminology, forensics, law, and loss prevention. In certain instances, two years of professional experience in loss prevention, accounting, or consulting can serve as a substitute for each year of college education.

Step 3: Certification

Although not required for all positions, employers may look for applicants with professional credentials. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential, which requires membership in the ACFE and meeting certain personal, academic, and professional requirements. The Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) exam is composed of 500 questions divided into four separate sections, covering fraud prevention, investigative methods, legal ramifications, and fraud in financial transactions.

Success Tip:

Accept the ACFE Code of Ethics. The ACFE has a code of ethics that outlines how all fraud examiners must pursue their work. The code includes a commitment to professionalism and a promise to present all evidence found, without implication as to guilt or innocence.

Remember, you'll most likely need a bachelor's degree in accounting, business administration, or another relevant major, experience and a certification from the ACFE to qualify for a job as a fraud examiner, after which you may earn an average annual salary of $64,300.

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