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What do Forensic Accountants do?

Job Descriptions August 7, 2013

The popularity and demand for forensic accounting has increased considerably in the past few years. This is due, in part, to the increase in corrupt business practices and crimes such as financial fraud. Kessler International conducted a study that showed thirty-nine percent of organizations have considered the need for a forensic accountant. Forensic accountants work on anything from divorce and bankruptcy, to capital crime and major fraud cases; they have a love of the excitement that comes with law and order.

Individuals in a forensic accounting career combine their investigative, auditing, and accounting skills to interpret and analyze financial and business evidence, and may participate in trials as expert witnesses. Before you begin your sleuthing however, you will need to find the right degree program in forensic accounting. To begin working towards your career, find accounting bachelors, MBA (Master of Business Administration), or MAcc (Master of Accountancy) degree programs.

Required Education for Forensic Accountants

You are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and are usually expected to have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification to begin a career in forensic accounting. It is also beneficial to become a Certified Forensic Accountant (CrFA) or a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Skills required to become a Forensic Accountant

Along with legal knowledge and strong accounting skills, forensic accountants must have the following:

•Research and analytical skills
•Communicate effectively
•The ability to think creatively
•Persistence
•Attention to detail
•Remarkable curiosity

Places for Forensic Accountants to Work

Students who have completed the degree program in forensic accounting will work anywhere investigative accounting is needed. This ranges from private firms or corporations that help certain companies deal with suspected (or unknown) embezzlement and fraud to government organizations such as the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the police departments. Forensic accountants also frequently work for law firms, insurance companies, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), banks, and public accounting firms.

Forensic Accounting Salary Information

Forensic accountants are part of the larger field of auditors and accountants. The average national annual salary for auditors and accountants was $61,690, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 to 2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Actual salaries can vary significantly based on years of experience, location, specialization within the field, and various other factors.

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