The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners just released its annual compensation survey, and the results clearly show that the right certifications can offer significant career enhancement. This particular survey focused on the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) credential, which is one of the leading credentials for investigators of fraud and financial crimes.

Professionals with the CFE credential earn almost 22% more than professionals in similar jobs, but without the credential. In almost every single job classification and industry, the earnings of employees with the CFE credential were noticeably higher than those without.

The job of a fraud investigator certainly doesn't require one to be a CFE, but the advantage of having the certification is clear, and I think it's likely that this isn't isolated to fraud-finding careers. It's clear that credentials like CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and CIA (Certified Internal Auditor) can also help professionals earn more money in their jobs.

Whatever industry in which you work, I think it's worthwhile to learn about the certifications available to you. What do you have to do to get them, and what are the chances of earning more with the credential? There are probably "credentials" that are nothing more than a piece of paper, and you should avoid those. But the value-added credentials that demonstrate your skill level to an employer are the ones you should carefully consider.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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