Intro: What You Need to Know about the CAMS Certification & ACAMS Exam

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, money laundering has become a globally massive and evolving challenge that requires collaboration across every level, as it impacts financial institutions, non-financial firms, and international trade across the world.

Since September 11, 2001, the Anti-Money Laundering field has been revolutionized, creating complex challenges, imposing tougher standards regarding national and international legal requirements for financial institutions, and imposing harsher penalties.

If you are seeking a quick overview of key information related to the ACAMS certification and the CAMS certification, then this review guide has been published for you.

Below, we provide information on the ACAMS exam, CAMS certification fees, exam requirements, sample CAMS exam questions, types of CAMS AML certifications, and a wide range of additional information.

First, let’s quickly discuss ACAMS, the organization that administers the CAMS examination, sets the exam fees, and develops ACAMS exam questions.

Photo courtesy of: ACAMS

ACAMS Cost, Exam Questions, Requirements, & Reviews | CAMS Certification Review

Due to the surge in global money launderers, terrorists financing, and corruption, financial and non-bank financial organizations across the globe are in a situation in which they urgently seek competent AML and compliance professionals.

ACAMS is the global leader in responding to that need, having helped standardize AML expertise by creating the CAMS designation.

    The CAMS certification is only given to candidates who pass a rigorous examination that is produced by an independent company of psychometricians, with AML content guidance and advice from a worldwide group of AML experts.

    The CAMS certification has become the most sought-after and prestigious credential in the AML field and is a crucial asset in the advancement of careers and professional standing.

    One of the key goals of the CAMS certification program is to set the standard for the AML profession.

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    About ACAMS

    The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) is a trade association dedicated to the training and certification of anti-money laundering professionals nationwide. 

    Founded in 2001, ACAMS serves both public and private sector employees and organizations alike, with current membership reaching more than 20,000 individuals worldwide. 

    Image Source: ACAMS Certification and Education

    Through ACAMS certification and education, their mission is to:

    • Promote international standards for the detection and prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
    • Educating professionals in private and government organizations about required standards, practices, and strategies
    • Certifying member achievements
    • Providing network platforms for global collaboration

    ACAMS’s certification program is focused on anti-money laundering initiatives and combines the practical application of current regulatory guidelines with in-depth training.

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    CAMS Training Program and Certification

    ACAMS developed the industry gold standard for AML certification, known as the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS). 

    Since the inception of CAMS, professionals within the industry have recognized CAMS as the most distinguished designation coveted by private institutions, governments, and law enforcement agencies.

    About the CAMS Certification

    The ACAMS CAMS exam is an internationally recognized examination that rigorously tests for aptitude and expertise in anti-money laundering detection, prevention, and enforcement.

    Each individual who passes the ACAMS certification exam becomes a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist® (CAMS), a designation that denotes one as an authority in the AML field.

    CAMS Exam—ACAMS Membership Requirements

    In order to sit for the CAMS examination, you must be an active ACAMS member in good standingMembers can be private industry professionals (those who work in the private sector) or public (those who work in the government or public sector).

    CAMS Eligibility Requirements


    Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists

    CAMS Eligibility Requirements

    Before you can enroll to take the CAMS exam and earn the certification, you are required to fulfill a 40-credit prerequisite.

    For those who are curious about the ACAMS exam and the ACAMS certification, the CAMS calculator is a quick and easy way to determine eligibility via credits. 

    This is how ACAMs calculates/allocates the 40-credit prerequisite:

    Professional Experience

    You are eligible to receive 10 credits per year, for up to 3 years of experience (even if you have 20 years of professional experience, ACAMS will only accept 3 of the years). Three years of professional experience will give you 30 credits toward qualifying to take the CAMS exam.

    Note: A full year means 12 consecutive months of professional experience. Such experience does not have to be related to AML. It can be in any industry or sector. Professional experience means “any” professional experience.

    To clarify, professional experience does not mean any work experience. You can have work experience as a cashier, but that wouldn’t necessarily imply professional development.

    Also, an internship or years of volunteer experience is great and can be included on your resume. However, technically, these do not count as professional experience.

    Financial Professional Certifications

    You are eligible to receive 10 credits for each financial professional certification that you hold. This includes certifications such as CPA, CPP, CRCM, CFE, CPE, NASD Series, etc.

    The certification program must include a minimum of eight hours of instruction and the ACAMS certification exam.


    You are eligible to receive 10 credits if you have an associate’s degree, 20 credits if you have a bachelor’s degree, and 30 credits if you have a master’s degree, PhD, JD, or any of their equivalents.

    AML Foundations Course

    You are eligible to receive up to 4 credits toward the ACAMS certification exam for completing an AML course.


    You also get 1 credit for each hour of attendance at a live or online training event on the topic of money laundering (i.e., seminar, conference, or webinar).

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    CAMS Professional Requirements

    As detailed by the 2017 Candidate Handbook for the CAMS Certification Examination, you are also required to submit three professional references as part of your CAMS exam application.


    Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists

    CAMS Certification Costs and Fees

    Below are the various CAMS certification costs and fees associated with taking the CAMS examination.


    Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists

    Taking the CAMS Examination

    The CAMS certification exam consists of 120 multiple choice ACAMS exam questions. You will have 3½ hours to complete and answer all questions.

    Keep in mind, there are no penalties for guessing. As such, ACAMS recommends that you complete all of the ACAMS exam questions (whether you know the answers or not) to maximize your chances of passing the CAMS exam. 

    They state, “It is better to guess than to leave a CAMS question unanswered.”

    CAMS Examination Questions

    The CAMS exam questions are centered on the concepts below:

    • Risks and methods of money laundering and terrorism financing
    • Money laundering and terrorism financing methods
    • Recognition of AML compliance risks
    • Compliance standards for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT)
    • AML/CFT compliance programs across different industries and sectors
    • Maintenance of an effective AML/CFT compliance program
    • Conducting or supporting the investigation process
    • SAR and STR filing
    • Assistance of institutional investigations

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    Sample CAMS Practice Questions

    1. Which of the following is the most common method of laundering money through a legal money services business?

    A. Purchasing structured money instruments.
    B. Smuggling bulk-cash.
    C. Transferring funds through Payable Through
    Accounts (PTAs).
    D. Exchanging Colombian pesos on the black market.

    2. In general, the three phases of money laundering are said to be: Placement, …

    A. Structuring, and manipulation.
    B. Layering, and integration.
    C. Layering, and smurfing.
    D. Integration, and infiltration.

    3. Which statement is true?

    A. Bust-out schemes are popular in creating large
    bankruptcy frauds where businesses secure
    increasing loans in excess of the actual value of the
    company or property and then run with the money,
    leaving the lender to foreclose and take a substantial

    B. Cuckoo smurfing is a significant money laundering
    technique identified by the Financial Action Task
    Force, where a form of structuring uses nested
    accounts with shell banks in secrecy havens.


    C. In its 40 Recommendations, the FATF issued a list of
    “designated categories of offense” that asserts crimes
    for money laundering prosecution.


    D. E-cash is not attractive to the money launderer
    because it cannot be completely anonymous and does
    not allow for large amounts to be “transported” quickly
    and easily.

    For a comprehensive list of sample ACAMS exam questions, click below to view and download ACAMS’s 5th Edition CAMS Certification Guide. Start from page #345 for a comprehensive view of CAMS example questions.

    Study Guide for the Certification Examination” Fifth Edition (ACAMS)


    Image Source: ACAMS Study Guide

    Where to Mail Your CAMS Application

    Mail or fax your completed CAMS exam application AND supporting documentation (diplomas, copies, etc.) that demonstrates the 40-credit prerequisite to:

    Attn. Certification Department
    Brickell City Tower
    80 Southwest 8th Street, Suite 2350
    Miami, FL 33130 USA

    Fax: +1.305.373.7788 or +1.305.373.5229

    ACAMS Cancellation Policies

    ACAMS does not issue a refund to anyone who registers for the CAMS exam and then cancels afterward. However, a change in the exam date is allowed at no extra cost. 

    Such a change must be completed at least 72 hours prior to the original exam date. If an ACAMS certification exam is rescheduled within 72 hours of the original date, a $100 fee will be assessed.

    CAMS-Audit Certification Program

    Previously certified CAMS industry professionals are able to advance their knowledge of AML principles by completing the CAMS-Audit certification programming

    Individuals who participate in the CAMS-Audit certification are equipped with the tools necessary to:

    • Evaluate the effectiveness of BSA/AML compliance programs, suspicious activity reporting, and transaction monitoring systems
    • Address and ultimately mitigate BSA/AML risks, including the correction of previously identified weaknesses
    • Identify, analyze, and recommend improvements and adjustments to AML policies and procedures in accordance with regulations
    • Assess transaction testing in relation to risks or suspicious activities in order to determine adequacy
    • Understand and communicate reporting requirements for independent testing
    • Enhance audit role using AML training and compliance monitoring standards
    • Identify communication techniques to increase message reception and collaboration

    CAMS-Audit Exam Prices

    • The CAMS-Audit exam price is $4,850 for members of ACAMS who are in the private sector.
    • The CAMS-Audit exam price is $4,268 for members of ACAMS who are in the public/government sector.

    **All materials required for the completion of prerequisite coursework are included in the examination fee.

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    CAMS-FCI Certification Program

    Individuals previously distinguished as CAMS professionals are able to further their knowledge of AML/CTF application through the achievement of the CAMS-FCI certification.

    This ACAMS certification provides industry professionals with the unique ability to apply AML/CTF principles through:

    • Utilizing critical thinking, as well as analytic skills, in an effort to determine the best approach to support investigations, case decisions, or suspicious activity reports.
    • Disseminating new typologies and risks uncovered during investigations while efficiently adjusting controls, training, and due diligence procedures.
    • Effective communication of information necessary to support law enforcement during investigations.
    • Minimizing institutional risks while cooperating with law enforcement during an investigation.

    CAMS-FCI Examination Prices

    • The CAMS-FCI exam fee is $4,850 for members of ACAMS who are in the private sector.
    • The CAMS-FCI exam fee is $4,268 for members of ACAMS who are in the public/government sector.

    **All materials required for the completion of prerequisite coursework are included in the examination fee.

    What Does the CAMS Training Program Cover?

    Each of the CAMS certification programs covers a broad range of topics, with CAMS examination questions focused on the following areas:

    • How to conduct and support a money laundering investigation
    • Elements of AML programming
    • AML/CTF risks and methods
    • Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations for AML professionals
    • SAR and STR Filing
    • Money laundering and terrorism financing methods
    • International and regional compliance standards and current regulations

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    Benefits of the ACAMS AML Certification Program

    • Expansion of network through conference events and seminar participation
    • Advancement in career due to CAMS’s position as an industry gold standard in AML certification and training
    • Enhancing AML/CTF knowledge and skills through personal and customized compliance training
    • Unlimited access to continuing education webinars through ACAMS membership
    • Ability to track and manage individual and team goals
    • User-friendly interface that keeps information current and easily accessible

    Conclusion: Closing Thoughts on CAMS Certifications 

    Keep in mind that, in order to stay current in CAMS certifications, individuals must complete the recertification process every three years.

    Candidates are required to prove their commitment and dedication to the AML/CTF community by earning a minimum of 60 CAMS credits within that time frame.

    Conference attendance, web seminars, and live chats available through ACAMS do not require membership. 

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