Becoming a Fraud Investigator: Salary Info & Job Description

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A fraud investigator's mean salary is around $64,000. Is it worth the education and licensure requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a fraud investigator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Fraud Investigator

A fraud investigator makes sure companies don't get swindled out of money by scammers. Take a look at the upsides and downsides to becoming a fraud investigator.

Pros of Becoming a Fraud Investigator
Minimal educational requirements*
Average income is above the national average ($64,000 vs. the national average of $47,000 in May 2014)*
Job training opportunities*
Mixture of office work and field work*

Cons of Becoming a Fraud Investigator
Weekend, evening and early morning hours can be required*
Confrontations can cause stress*
State licensure could be required*
Slower-than-average job growth of 4% between 2012 and 2022*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

A fraud investigator normally works with an insurance company to investigate cases of criminal and fraudulent activity. Fraud investigators could also work for banks, healthcare companies, real estate agencies or investigative firms. A list of activities a fraud investigator might look into includes unnecessary medical treatments, staged accidents, falsified claims and arson. Outside of the insurance industry, you could inspect fraudulent billing practices, check fraud, identity theft or forgeries. The nature of a fraud can vary greatly from just exaggerating the nature of the accident to complex scams.

When a fraud investigator receives a case, a background check is performed on the witnesses and claimants. This is to determine if the people being investigated have a previous criminal record. The fraud investigator then visits the claimants and witnesses to interview them. You'll also inspect items relevant to the case like a crashed vehicle or medical records. A lot of the work a fraud investigator performs is surveillance in an attempt to find out the truth about a situation under investigation.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014 reported that fraud investigators made about $64,000 on average, which amounts to around $31.00 an hour (www.bls.gov). Fraud investigators who were in the top ten percent of wage estimates earned upwards of $93,000 for the same time period.

In this field, the top paying industries were reported to be architectural and engineering services, natural gas distributors, electric power generation, the federal executive branch and rail transportation. However, some of these industries employed only a small fraction of the total number of investigators working in this field. The following states were considered to be the top paying states to work in as a fraud investigator: the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Alaska.

While the number of claims in this field was expected to increase, prompting a need for fraud investigators, employment was not projected to grow substantially, with only 4% growth expected between 2012 and 2022.

Educational and Licensure Requirements

Postsecondary education is not necessary for this position, although many employers prefer it. The more education you have, the better chances you'll have at becoming a fraud investigator. Pursuing an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in areas related to law enforcement, healthcare and insurance could be beneficial. Taking criminal justice classes can help familiarize you with different laws, rules and regulations that apply to investigation work. If you can get work experience with insurance businesses or law enforcement agencies through previous jobs or internships, that'll help hone your investigative skills.

Previous experience as a private investigator, claims adjuster or law enforcement officer can help you develop the necessary interrogation and interviewing capabilities required by fraud investigators.

License

Before becoming a fraud investigator, you'll need to look at any license requirements that your state might have. In some states, these requirements are few, while other states are more restrictive. A licensing examination is common, although there are ways around it. For example, some insurance companies are allowed to issue company licenses in place of individual licenses.

What Employers Are Looking for in Fraud Investigators

Employers need investigators who are assertive and persistent due to the nature of this field. Confrontation is an inevitable part of being a fraud investigator, so an employer needs someone who is reliable and won't back down. Possessing the ability to think and act quickly can help keep you safe and aid you in solving investigations. Clear communication skills are another trait many employers look for in fraud investigators. Take a look at some job postings on CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com from March 2012 to see what real employers wanted in applicants for fraud investigator positions.

  • A bank in Delaware needs a fraud investigator who is familiar with credit bureau reports. Applicants need 5-7 years of experience and strong communication skills
  • A bank in Pennsylvania wants a fraud investigator with experience in deposit operations. The potential investigator should be willing to travel and have knowledge of courtroom protocol and interview techniques.
  • An Ohio data business requires a fraud investigator who can work with Microsoft Word and Excel. The investigator would be responsible for making sure that account balances are correct and accounts are credited appropriately.
  • In Maryland, a fraud investigator position is open for applicants with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a couple years of experience in banking fraud investigation or a related field.
  • A healthcare company in Tennessee requests a fraud investigator with experience in coding. A bachelor's degree and three years of experience are also required.
  • A company in Florida is willing to provide job training for applicants interested in an entry-level fraud investigation position.

How to Stand Out as a Fraud Investigator

If you have the opportunity, you might want to seek out other fraud investigators and try to learn from them. If you can learn a few of the trade secrets from an experienced investigator then those techniques can allow you to show employers your level of commitment and professionalism to fraud investigation. Above all, keeping a clear head and having an eye for details can set you apart from other fraud investigators who might miss important details or act irrationally during a confrontation.

Get Certified

Acquiring optional certifications is one way to set yourself up to succeed as a fraud investigator. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers certification to members of its organization who meet education and experience requirements. If you decide to join the ACFE and pursue certification, you'll need a bachelor's degree in any field or equivalent job experience. An exam is required to earn the ACFE's Certified Fraud Examiner credential. If you plan to work in the insurance field, you can acquire the Certified Insurance Fraud Investigator credential through the International Association of Special Investigation Units. Minimum education and experience requirements are needed to take the exam.

Alternative Career Options

Crime Scene Investigator

If you enjoy investigation work, but you'd like to work in law enforcement, then consider becoming a crime scene investigator. In this role, you'll collect physical evidence, assist pathologists and prepare reports in order to help solve crimes. You'll study evidence like footwear impressions, hair fibers and blood spatters. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can prepare you for this position. You'll also need to obtain training through a law enforcement agency. This job requires long hours and time spent in the field. According to Payscale.com, most crime scene investigators earned between $20,000 and $77,000 as of April 2012.

Fire Inspector

If you're interested in applying your investigation skills towards saving lives, you can become a fire inspector. In this occupation, you'll ensure that businesses and other areas are meeting the appropriate fire codes. When a new building or area is being built, you can be assigned to oversee the plans and ensure that regulations and fire codes are being followed throughout the construction process. A high school diploma along with some job training is normally adequate for this occupation. The average salary for fire inspectors and investigators was about $57,000 according to the BLS in May 2011.

Popular Schools

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    1. Grand Canyon University

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      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
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    2. Saint Leo University

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      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
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      • AA: Criminal Justice
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    3. Regent University

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      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
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    4. Colorado State University Global

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    5. Colorado Christian University

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    6. Northcentral University

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    7. Saint Joseph's University

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    10. Central Christian College of Kansas

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Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • M.A. in Law - Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • Criminal Justice, M.S.
  • Criminal Justice, B.S.
  • Criminal Justice, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership

What is your highest level of education?