Fraud examination is generally not available at the diploma level as a field of study. Some colleges and universities offer courses or concentrations in fraud examination through accounting or criminal justice degree programs, but more often schools provide an education in fraud examination via certificate programs. Certificate programs emphasize the study of topics such as computer forensics and theories of forensic accounting. Relevant certificate programs may be offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Prerequisites to obtaining a fraud examination certificate include a high school diploma or GED. An undergraduate degree is required for admission to the graduate program. To be certified, work experience or a degree is essential.
Undergraduate Fraud Examination Certificate
Schools may not generally offer diplomas in fraud examination, but some community colleges do offer entry-level certificate programs providing an overview of common fraud schemes and examination methods, as well as basic financial concepts. Business and law enforcement topics are also explored. Students develop evidence preservation and presentation skills.
Undergraduate certificate programs in fraud examination cover topics such as consumer fraud and digital evidence. Concepts including financial ratios, asset reporting, and merchandising operations are also discussed.
- Fraud examination principles
- Financial accounting
- Investigative techniques for fraud
- Financial data analysis
- Fraud and legal issues
Graduate Certificate in Fraud Examination
Designed for finance and accounting professionals, graduate certificate programs in fraud examination generally consist of four to six specialized courses. Fraud detection and prevention, as well as interviewing and investigative techniques, are covered. Programs prepare students to take the CFE examination.
Students applying to fraud examination graduate certificate programs must possess at least a bachelor's level education in accounting or business; some programs require that applicants hold a master's degree. Relevant work experience may be required as well.
Students in graduate-level certificate programs learn to use fraud-related computer software, as well as data analysis programs. Money laundering and identity theft topics are also explored. Courses students may take include:
- Computer forensics
- Fraud and ethics
- Forensic accounting principles
- Financial statement fraud
- Criminology of fraud
Popular Career Options
Graduates of fraud examination certificate programs may pursue opportunities in areas such as law enforcement and accounting. Fraud examiners can find employment in private practices or government agencies. Duties may include providing expert witness testimony in civil or criminal court cases. Some example job titles are:
- Fraud investigator
- Fraud analyst
- Business fraud compliance specialist
- Government fraud compliance expert
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Individuals holding Certified Fraud Examiner certification can find work as forensic accountants, investigators, and auditors, among other career options. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.org) does not provide data for the specialized field of fraud examination, it does report on the larger categories of accountants and auditors, including forensic accountants and auditors, as well as financial specialists. Employment of accountants and auditors of all kinds is expected to grow by about 11% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS.
In May 2015, the Bureau published the average annual salaries of accountants and auditors working for state and local governments as $60,270 and $64,370, respectively. Accountants and auditors working for securities and commodities exchanges averaged $93,050 per year, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
After completing an undergraduate fraud examination certificate, students may choose to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in accounting or a related area. Although an undergraduate certificate program in the field provides a foundational education, most professionals in the field hold bachelor's degrees or higher; in order to qualify to sit for the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) test, administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, applicants are required to have a bachelor's degree, or possess two years of fraud-related work experience in place of each academic year.
Fraud examiners evaluate, analyze, audit and interpret financial records to verify or disprove fraud. Combining a Fraud Examiner's certification with a degree in accounting can expand a student's career options.