Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

CFCE: Certified Forensic Computer Examiner

Best Digital Forensics Certifications 2018

The International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) is the organization behind the Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) credential. This organization caters primarily to law enforcement personnel, and you must be employed in law enforcement to qualify for regular IACIS membership.

A formal application form, along with an application fee, is necessary to join IACIS. Regular membership include current computer/digital forensic practitioners who are current or former government or law enforcement employees or forensic contractors to a government agency. All other practitioners can apply for Associate membership to IACIS, provided they can pass a background check. IACIS membership is not required to obtain the CFCE credential.

To obtain the CFCE credential, candidates must demonstrate proficiency with CFCE core competencies. One option is IACIS' Basic Computer Forensic Examiner (BCFE) two-week training course; it meets the 72-hour training requirement, costs $2,795, includes a free laptop and waives some IACIS fees. Candidates completing the training course can enroll directly in the CFCE program at the completion of the course. Those not attending the BCFE course may meet the 72-hour training requirement with a comparable course (subject to IACIS approval), pay a $750 registration fee, and successfully pass a background check to enroll in the CFCE program and sit for the exam.

The CFCE exam is a two-step testing process that includes a peer review and CFCE certification testing:

  1. The peer review consists of accepting and completing four assigned practical problems based on core knowledge and skills areas for the credential. These must be solved, and then presented to a mentor for initial evaluation (and assistance, where needed) before being presented for peer review. Candidates have 30 days to complete each of the practical problems.
  2. Upon successful conclusion of the peer review, candidates may progress to the certification phase:
    • Candidates work independently to analyze and report upon a forensic image of a hard drive provided to them. Just 40 days can complete the hard drive practical problem. Following specific instructions, a written report is prepared to document the candidate's activities and findings.
    • Once that report is accepted and passed, the process concludes with a 100-question written examination (which includes true/false, multiple-choice, matching and short answer questions). Candidates have 14 days to complete the written examination. A passing score of 80 percent or better is required for both the forensic report and the written exam to earn the CFCE.

Upon completion of both the peer review and the certification phase, candidates must submit a notarized form certifying that the practical and written exams were completed independently without assistance from anyone else.

Certificants must recertify every three years to maintain the CFCE credential. Recertification requires proof of at least 60 hours of professional education, a passing score on a proficiency test in the third year, proof of computer/digital forensics work experience or passing scores on three proficiency tests within three years, and either three years of IACIS membership or payment of a $150 recertification fee.

Despite the time and expense involved in earning a CFCE, this credential enjoys high value and excellent name recognition in the computer forensics field. Many forensics professionals consider the CFCE to be a necessary merit badge to earn, especially for those who work in or for law enforcement.

CFCE Facts & Figures

Certification NameCertified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
Prerequisites & Required CoursesBasic Computer Forensics Examiner (BCFE) training course is recommended, ($2,795)
72 hours of training in computer/digital forensics comparable to CFCE core competencies; BCFE training course meets training requirement

Without BCFE training: take a comparable course, pay $750 registration fee and pass a background check
Number of ExamsTwo-part process: Peer review (must pass to proceed to subsequent phase) and certification phase (includes hard drive practical and written examination)
Cost per ExamIncluded in BCFE training; $750 for the entire testing process for those not attending BCFE training
Self-Study MaterialsIACIS is the primary conduit for training and study materials for this certification.