A certified fraud examiner is a professional designation awarded to fraud examiners after sitting for an exam given by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. As with many advanced certifications, CFE signifies a proficiency in identifying fraudulent behavior, such as embezzlement, check fraud, money laundering and abuse of corporate resources, among others. Fraud examiners who earn a certificate make much more than their uncertified counterparts.
As of 2011, half of all certified fraud examiners earned at least $90,500 a year, according to a survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Those not holding a certification earned a median wage of $74,500 a year. (reference 1 – pg. 8). That’s a $16,000 difference for an investment of around $1,300 -- the prep course costs under $1,000 and certification exams costs $300, as of 2013. (reference 2).
While there’s no specific education needed to become a CFE, some schooling does help to improve your earnings. Among CFEs with an associate's degree, half of them earned at least $84,843 a year. Those with a bachelor’s degree earned a median wage of $90,825 a year. Graduate degrees provide the greatest earning potential, with a median wage of $94,000 a year.
As with any career, experience affects salaries certified fraud examiners are no exception. For example, CFEs with three to four years' experience earned a median wage of $60,000 a year, while those with five to nine years of experience earned a median of $75,000. CFEs with 10 years' to 19 years' experience didn’t see much of a bump in pay, with a median of only $75,875 a year. It isn’t until you 20 or more years of experience that a jump is seen again, with CFEs earning a median of $97,730 a year.
Women CFEs aren’t immune to a gender gap on pay. Women with CFE just tend to earn less in this occupation than men. As of 2011, female CFEs earned a median wage of $82,000 a year, while male CFEs made $95,000 annually. That’s quite a bit of difference between women and men.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.