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Q&A - Forensic Accounting Certification

What are the best professional certifications in forensic accounting to earn?

There are several different types of forensic accounting certifications you can earn if you would like to work as a forensic accountant. These certifications are different than earning a forensic accounting certificate through course credits. Most require passing an exam as well as demonstrating that you have the necessary amount of experience from working as an accountant.

One of the most common certifications is the certified in financial forensics (CFF) designation for certified public accountants (CPAs) who practice in the area of forensic accounting. In order to receive this forensic accounting certification you must be a CPA in good standing, pass the CFF examination and prove that you have at least 1,000 hours of relevant business experience, which is equal to about half a year of full-time work.

Another 1 of the available forensic accounting certification programs is the forensic certified public accountant (FCPA). To receive this designation, you must be a CPA and pass a 5-part exam. You must also take 20 hours of continuing education courses each year to maintain the certification.

Finally, there is the certified fraud examiner (CFE) certification, which requires membership in the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), proof of education, professional recommendations and passing an exam.

What organizations offer certification in forensic accounting?

There are 5 main organizations that offer forensic accounting certifications in the U.S. The first is the ACFE, which issues the CFE. The ACFE was established in 1988 and is the largest anti-fraud organization in the world, with over 60,000 members.

Another forensic accounting certification organization is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This is the organization that administers the general CPA credentials as well as CFF certification. Founded in 1887, the AICPA is the oldest organization by far and has over 370,000 members all over the world.

The American College of Forensic Examiners International began offering the certified forensic accountant (CrFA) designation in 2001. This certification is not as widely recognized, partly because it is still a relatively new program.

Another 1 of the forensic accounting certification programs is the Forensic CPA Society, which offers a certification in forensic accounting called the FCPA. This designation is open to CPAs and chartered accountants as well as the equivalents of CPAs from other countries.

Finally, the Association of Certified Fraud Specialists has a designation of certified fraud specialist (CFS). Established in 1993, this nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing low-cost anti-fraud training programs.

Can I earn a certification in forensic accounting online?

If you received a forensic accounting masters online, you are probably keen to earn your forensic accounting certification online as well. Luckily, most of the exams can be taken online, with the exception of the CFF exam. The AICPA’s CFF examination must be taken in person, though there are nearly 300 testing locations within the U.S. and Canada.

You can receive a forensic accounting certification online from the Forensic CPA Society on their website if you pass their exams. Before you can take the 5 exams required to receive the certification, you must already be a CPA or another country’s equivalent and pay $50 per test. The timed online tests allow 2 minutes per question. All 5 of the certification tests must be completed within a 1-year period from the time the first test is taken.

In addition, you can take the CFE exam online as well by downloading and installing a Windows application for the exam itself. The exam takes about 10 hours to complete. You can also take the CrFA exam online, which is composed of 100 multiple choice and true-or-false questions. If you fail, you are allowed to retake the exam up to 2 times at a reduced fee.