The purpose of the Board of Forensic Document Examiners (BFDE) is to administer a professional certification program. Any group of individuals can call themselves a "board" and offer a certification program. However, the BFDE is accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) and was the first Document Examiners organization to do so. The FSAB was established with grants and assistance of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The FSAB currently has accredited 16 forensic science boards. BFDE issued its first certifications in 2006.
This certification program is available to all who are able to meet the prerequisites to sit for the examination. The background check is thorough for all applicants. Candidates must provide, their CV, all advertising, copies of college diplomas, copies of all training and continuing education certificates. References and a list of testimonies are also required. It is the only board certification program for forensic document examiners that proctors all phases of the testing. The testing is administered through a professional testing company called Occupational Research and Assessment, Inc. (ORA) which validates all parts of the testing.
This certification program tests the skills and knowledge of documents examiners in most areas of their daily practical use. A 240 question written examination as well as an 8 part performance examination must be passed in order to achieve certification.
Testing covers the 8 sections: Foundation Skills, Gathering Evidence, Analyze Handwriting, Analyze Falsified Documents, Analyze Features of Paper and Media, Analyze Impact and Non-Impact Images, Use of Laboratory Instruments, Evaluating Evidence and Presenting Case Findings, and Demonstration of Knowledge of Legal Procedures.
BFDE certified members are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. The Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility can be downloaded from the BFDE website. Certification is given for a five year period. All certified members must renew their certifications every five years.
While there is no requirement to be certified by the BFDE, hiring an expert that is ensures that the client is hiring a seasoned professional document examiner who passed rigorous testing. This can save a tremendous amount of money down the road as compared to hiring some fly-by-night charlatan who has just put up his own website.
This information was obtained by the BFDE and FSAB websites.