Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Fraud Investigator

Job Description:

Fraud investigators specialize in identifying and investigating fraud and theft cases, including customer fraud, counterfeits, and insurance fraud. Most fraud investigators work for insurance companies, where they are asked to conduct interviews, perform background checks, and compile detailed reports. They interview complainants, obtain statements, depositions, and confessions, and obtain and serve subpoenas. Fraud investigators must present their findings to prosecutors and if necessary provide testimony in court.

Fraud investigators generally have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, business administration, or accounting, or a master's in economic crime and fraud management. Different types of coursework are helpful, depending on what kind of fraud an investigator specializes in. Additional licensing and continuing education requirements will vary by state.
Median Salary:
According to the Robert Half Finance & Accounting 2013 Salary Guide, in 2013, the national starting salary for fraud investigators was $64,000 - $85,500. Earnings of investigators, claims adjusters, appraisers, and fraud examiners vary depending on the employer and level of experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage of claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators was $61,110 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent of those employed as investigators, claims adjusters, or appraisers, earned less than $36,310, and the top 10 percent earned more than $89,590.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 3% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Although the number of natural disasters, and health and medical insurance claims continue to increase, fraud investigators are expected to see an overall decline in job growth, since the majority of professionals do not work in these particular sectors of this occupation. According to the BLS, 32% of claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators work for direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers. The next most populated sector is the federal government, excluding the postal service, at 18%, followed by other insurance related activities, at 17%. Fraud investigators typically operate in the 'other insurance related activities' realm, and may find there is rigid competition for top jobs in this occupation over the next seven years. Candidates with an advanced degree and extensive experience in insurance and/or consumer-related fraud investigation should find they have the widest range of career prospects.

Continuing Education:

Fraud investigators typically pursue certification and licensure to operate in their state. Once a fraud investigator has been licensed, they are required to complete a minimum of continuing study credits to maintain their license every three years. The International Association of Special Investigation Units website offers licensure through its own certified insurance fraud investigator program. Through this and other similar programs, continuing education brings fraud investigators up-to-date on the latest in ethics, analytics, software utilization, terminology, and case study. Investigators in this field who are able to demonstrate a mastery of professional skills in addition to an upper-level degree should find a wealth of job opportunities in the insurance industry.