What is Forensic Accounting?
There are many accounting companies worldwide who provide forensic accounting services. It is a field that allows a person with accounting knowledge to apply this knowledge to the investigation of financial crimes. Forensic accountants analyze and investigate financial information related to the crime to determine how embezzlement or fraud were perpetrated to assist in identifying and prosecuting a suspect.
The field of forensic accounting provides exciting opportunities for those interested in a career related to finance. Forensic accountants are typically employed by police departments, government agencies, banks or insurance companies to assist in investigations related to financial fraud and embezzlement.
The work day of a forensic accountant may be spent collecting evidence, analyzing financial information related to a crime and reporting any findings. Acting as an expert witness during a trial is not uncommon.
Becoming Qualified for Forensic Accounting
Qualifications for forensic accounting are similar to those for any other accountant, but there are additional education requirements needed to ensure an individual has criminal justice knowledge.
A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting is required. Because successful completion of the certified public accountant (CPA) exam is necessary to become a forensic accountant, some states may require an individual to obtain a master’s degree in the field.
An additional designation as a certified forensic accountant is an option that can increase earning potential. This certification involves gaining two years of work experience and taking an exam.
As noted above, some states require a person to obtain a master’s degree in order to be eligible to become a CPA. However, it may be beneficial for professionals to pursue a master’s degree even if it is not required in their state. The additional education gives professionals in the field of forensic accounting the opportunity to take more courses in law, psychology and sociology to make them more effective at conducting investigations.
Forensic accounting requires a professional to be highly analytical and focused on minute details that could assist in an investigation. Professionals must value ethics and be able to keep their cool under the pressure that often comes with the process of investigation.
The opportunity to assist in identifying perpetrators of financial crimes gives forensic accountants a high level of job satisfaction. The rewards don’t stop at the satisfaction of helping to put criminals behind bars: The average annual salary of a forensic accountant is approximately $75,000, and experienced forensic accountants can make up to $150,000.