How do I become a CFE?

In the late 1980s, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) launched the CFE certification. Since then, fraud examiners living all over the world have earned this certification to learn the latest fraud prevention best practices and advance their careers. CFEs possess expert accounting skills and in-depth knowledge of how criminals attempt to defraud companies.

Here is everything you need to know

How to Become a CFE

Fulfilling the CFE Exam Requirements

The ACFE requires candidates to meet education and experience standards. The ACFE uses a unique point system to determine when candidates can take the exam and apply for certification. Some professionals may qualify to sit for the certified fraud examiner exam but still need additional experience before earning certification.

ACFE’s system grants points for candidates’ degrees and experience in the fraud detection or prevention fields.

Determine your current points by using ACFE’s point calculator.

When is the CFE administered?

The certified fraud examiner exam does not use testing windows, so you can attempt it at any time of year.

Where can I take the CFE exam?

You can take the exam from any internet-connected computer. Even if your computer loses internet access during the exam, you can still finish the exam and upload the results once your computer reconnects to the internet.

How is the CFE exam taken?

The exam has four parts, and professionals take all four sections on a computer. Test takers can attempt sections in any order they want, but most candidates attempt 1-2 sections per day.

How often can I take the CFE exam?

ACFE grants you three tries to pass each portion of the exam. Once you finish all four sections, you can purchase an activation key to retake parts of the test you did not pass. ACFE takes 3-5 days to grant activation keys.

What are the Educational Requirements?

ACFE requires that each candidate possesses a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. A bachelor’s degree confers 40 of the 50 required points to earn certification. However, educational requirements do not include a bachelor’s in accounting, fraud, or a related topic. Certified fraud professionals may come from many academic backgrounds, so ACFE also requires professional experience.

A professional without a bachelor’s or associate degree may still qualify for a certified fraud examiner certification in specific circumstances. The next section details this exemption in greater detail.

What are the Professional Requirements?

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree must possess at least two years of experience in the fraud prevention field. Acceptable experience includes accounting, criminology, fraud investigation, loss prevention, and law. A candidate with other professional experience can appeal to ACFE by submitting a detailed resume that shows how the experience meets ACFE’s requirements.

ACFE grants five points for each year of experience and 10 points for each year of college. As a result, certification candidates with an associate degree must possess four years of experience, and professionals who did not attend college should have 10 years of experience.

CFE Exam Information

Exam Composition and Timing

Once you purchase the exam, you have 30 days to complete all four sections. The program’s flexibility allows you to attempt a section at any time, which is ideal for professionals who work full time or raise families. Once you begin a section, you cannot pause or stop the exam session. The test proctoring software grants 75 seconds for each question, and each test portion lasts two hours and five minutes if you use the maximum allotted time for each question. Finally, upon finishing the exam, you must submit a signed affidavit stating that you received no outside help.

Four Areas Tested on the CFE

Before earning the CFE Credential, you are required to pass the CFE Exam. The CFE Exam tests your knowledge of the four major areas that comprise the fraud examination body of knowledge:

Fraud Prevention and Deterrence

The fraud prevention and deterrence section focuses on how and why people commit fraud, plus what certified fraud examiners can do to prevent it. Questions cover fraud risk assessment and professional ethics, among other subjects.

Financial Transactions and Fraud Schemes

Certified fraud examiners must understand accounting fundamentals if they hope to uncover and prevent fraud. This test covers basic accounting, auditing, and how criminals perform fraud schemes.


Certified fraud examiners use their investigative skills when interviewing suspects, reviewing documents, and performing research. Questions in this section cover these essential skills with an emphasis on evaluating deception.


Fraud experts should know all laws and regulations related to fraud. This section emphasizes civil and criminal law, defendants’ rights, and the laws that certified fraud examiners must follow in the field.

Registration and Fees for the CFE Exam

The certified fraud examiner exam requires you to register with ACFE, create a profile, and pay a fee. This section covers the latest requirements and fees.

If you have already booked your CFE Exam Review Course, the cost of the course includes your first year ACFE membership fee (not your local chapter fee) please email for more information.

How to Register for the CFE exam

Before registering, you must first join ACFE and meet all necessary requirements (e.g., the 50 points candidates can earn through education and work experience). Registration, the test itself, and receiving scores all take place on the ACFE website or its software.

To register with the ACFE click here: ACFE

What is Needed for Registration

When you acquire 50 or more points, you submit official education and work documents, a recent photograph, and three professional recommendations from current or former colleagues.

When do I register?

You can sign up as soon as you meet all the registration requirements. Once you receive your activation key from ACFE, you can enter it and begin the exam right away — or continue studying until you feel ready.

Paying for the CFE Exam

If you have already booked your CFE Exam Review Course, your exam fee is included.

As of the writing of this article, the CFE exam costs $400. ACFE members who completed a preparation course pay $300. Retakes cost $25 per section, and test takers can pay for the exam with a credit or debit card through the ACFE website.

Online CFE Exam Format

  • The CFE Exam is administered online via computer.
  • The exam contains four sections.
  • The CFE Exam is a closed-book and closed-notes exam.
  • The CFE Exam can be taken at a time convenient for you.
  • The exam has a number of controls to ensure integrity and each exam is generated from a master database. No two exams are exactly the same.

Scoring of the Certified Fraud Examiner Exam

Besides the content the certified fraud examiner exam covers, you should understand what score you need to achieve and how ACFE calculates that score. The questions and answers below cover the most important information about scoring.

What score do you need to pass the CFE exam?

ACFE requires that you earn a 75% on all portions of the exam. If you fail one or more sections, you do not need to retake the sections you already passed.

How does CFE exam scoring work?

Once you reach 75% correct on a section, you pass. This cut off means that test takers must answer at least 75 out of 100 questions correctly.

Who scores the CFE exam?

As the certified fraud examiner exam uses multiple choice questions, a computer scores it. However, ACFE officials ensure the exam’s integrity through software and the signed affidavit all test takers submit.

When are CFE exam scores released?

You should receive your scores 3-5 days after submitting all four exam portions. Due to test security measures, ACFE does not tell you scores for sections that you failed.

After the Exam: Maintaining Your CFE Certification

Certification does not end with passing the exam. Certified fraud examiners must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education courses every 12 months. At least 2hrs must relate to fraud deterrence and professional ethics.

Exam Retakes

As a Review Course participant, if you fail a section, a retake code will be sent to you. There are three free retakes for Review Course participants who take the exam within 30 days of completing the course.

CFE Credential

If you passed the Exam during the week, the ACFE Certification Committee will review your exam scores and your application documents. When your application is approved by the CFE committee, you will be notified that you have been awarded the CFE credential. Until then, you are not permitted to use the credential. You will be notified of your CFE Status 7 – 10 business days after the last day of the course.