Pooja Shah Feb 15, 2024
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How Long is ACAMS Certification?

ACAMS certification is a crucial credential in the fight against money laundering. This certification opens doors to rewarding careers in the financial industry and helps combat financial crimes. One common question that many aspiring professionals have is, "How long does it take to complete ACAMS certification?" 

This blog will break down the ACAMS certification process and provide insights into the time required to earn this valuable certification.

What is ACAMS Certification?

The acronym ACAMS is the "Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists." This organization plays a pivotal role in anti-money laundering (AML) by setting high standards and providing valuable certifications.

ACAMS certification is a testament to an individual's expertise in AML, which is critical in preventing illicit financial activities. It holds significant importance in the financial and legal sectors as it demonstrates a commitment to upholding the integrity of financial systems.

ACAMS offers a range of certification programs catering to different career paths within AML. 

These programs include the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification, CAMS-Audit, CAMS-FCI, CAMS-Risk Management, and more. Each program is designed to equip professionals with the specialized skills and knowledge to excel in their specific roles, making ACAMS a versatile platform for career advancement in the fight against money laundering.

The ACAMS Certification Process

Professionals seeking ACAMS certification must navigate a well-defined process that ensures their competence in anti-money laundering (AML). This process encompasses prerequisites, the application phase, and the examination itself.

Prerequisites for ACAMS Certification

  • Educational Requirements - To be eligible for ACAMS certification, candidates typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent. This foundational educational requirement ensures that candidates have basic knowledge and skills to engage with AML concepts.
  • Work Experience Requirements - Alongside educational qualifications, candidates must meet specific work experience criteria. ACAMS requires candidates to have at least 40 to 60 months of full-time experience in AML-related roles. This hands-on experience is crucial in building a deep understanding of AML practices and challenges.

Application Process

The first step in the application process involves creating an account on the ACAMS website. This account is the gateway to the certification journey. Candidates will need to provide personal information and create login credentials.

Once the account is established, candidates must submit relevant documentation to verify eligibility. This documentation typically includes transcripts, proof of work experience, and identification. ACAMS carefully reviews these documents to ensure that candidates meet the prerequisites.

Examination Process

  • Format of the ACAMS Exam - The ACAMS certification exam is typically a computer-based test, although paper-based options may be available. The exam consists of MCQs that assess a candidate's knowledge of AML concepts and practices. Depending on the candidate's location and preferences, it is administered at designated testing centers or online.
  • Exam Content and Topics Covered - The ACAMS exam covers a wider range of topics related to anti-money laundering. Candidates are tested on their understanding of money laundering techniques, regulatory compliance, risk assessment, and other critical AML areas. ACAMS provides a detailed examination content outline to guide candidates in their preparation.
  • Passing Score and Retake Policy - To pass the ACAMS exam, candidates must achieve a minimum passing score, which may vary depending on the specific certification. ACAMS has a well-defined retake policy, allowing candidates who do not pass on their first attempt to retake the exam. This policy ensures that individuals can learn from their mistakes and improve their knowledge.

Length of ACAMS Certification

Understanding the duration required to obtain ACAMS certification is essential for planning and preparation. Here's a breakdown of the time factors involved:

Typical Timeframe for Preparation

The duration of ACAMS certification preparation can vary from one individual to another. On average, many candidates spend 3 to 6 months preparing for the certification. This timeframe allows for a thorough review of the exam content, practice exams, and addressing any knowledge gaps.

Suggested Study Hours

ACAMS suggests dedicating a substantial amount of study hours to ensure success. Candidates are recommended to commit approximately 150-200 hours of study time. This allocation of hours accounts for the depth and breadth of the AML concepts and regulatory knowledge covered in the certification.

Tips for Efficient ACAMS Certification Preparation

Here are some tips for efficient ACAMS certification preparation;

  • Create a structured study plan with specific goals.
  • Utilize ACAMS study materials and resources.
  • Join study groups or forums for discussion and support.
  • Practice the sample questions to familiarize yourself with the exam format.
  • Set aside dedicated study time regularly.
  • Seek guidance from ACAMS-certified professionals or mentors.
  • Stay updated with AML industry news and regulations.
  • Manage time effectively to cover all exam topics.
  • Don't procrastinate; start preparing early.
  • Take breaks to maintain focus and avoid burnout.

Renewal and Maintenance of ACAMS Certification

Renewing ACAMS certification is vital to keep one's AML expertise current. ACAMS-certified professionals must earn Continuing Education Credits (CECs) by attending AML-related training or events to renew. Typically, 40 CECs are required every two years. Renewal fees must also be paid to ACAMS.

Maintaining ACAMS certification demonstrates a commitment to staying updated with AML trends. It enhances career opportunities, earning potential, and professional credibility. Failure to renew results in certification expiration. This may limit job prospects and require additional steps to regain certification, including re-taking the exam. Staying current is key in the dynamic field of AML.


In conclusion, ACAMS certification serves as a crucial pillar in the fight against money laundering, offering a pathway to rewarding careers. Understanding the certification process, preparation duration, and renewal requirements empowers professionals to make informed choices in advancing their AML expertise.


Senior Finance & Accounting Trainer

Pooja Shah is a well-established Corporate Trainer with more than 10 years of experience in Training and Development in the GCC region and India. Over the years, she has coached over 1000 CA, CS, and M.com students and taught Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Auditing for various batches of CPT, IPCC, CS Foundation, and CS Executive. Pooja is also an accomplished communicator with the capability of simplifying complex finance theories and practices for the easy understanding of people from various backgrounds.