How Do I Become a Forensic Accountant?

The best way to become a forensic accountant is to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting or forensic accounting.  The forensic accounting career field is a growing phenomenon in today’s world. More people are choosing to enter this field due to the high demand it offers to graduates interested in white-collar crimes and fraud investigations.  In fact, fraud is one of the most widespread problems affecting every business, organization, or company, regardless of its size, location, or industry.

Where Do Forensic Accountants Work?

Many forensic accountants work among high-priority law and accounting firms and businesses. Their job is to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions or misrepresentations of business activity within an organization’s financial reports. They may also be called into court to provide testimony in courtroom trials or offer litigation support to new clients. In most cases, a forensic accountant will need to be ACFE certified before going into private practice or working for an accounting firm.

Which Degree is Best for Forensic Accounting?

The best way to become a forensic accountant is to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting or forensic accounting itself.  Some students also receive a second major in criminal justice to help them diversify their career goals and have more doors open and available while searching for a job after graduation.

Most people working as forensic accountants need to earn a BS in forensic accounting prior to working as one. Those with traditional accounting degrees usually take forensic accounting courses and, if available, a forensic accounting certification. In some cases, students can also earn a CPA license upon graduation or right before they start working.  Earning a CPA license will make a big difference in your job searching.

What Skills Does a Forensic Accountant Need?

  • Analytical skills:  identifying patterns or a lack of patterns.
  • Communication skills: cooperation with others during an investigation and while testifying in court.
  • Detail-oriented: looking for the smallest inconsistencies that might indicate something is not correct in a case.
  • Math skills: looking at a set of numbers and quickly deducing what they mean.

Degree Requirements of a Forensic Accountant

As mentioned above, a BS in Forensic Accounting is often a requirement to enter this field. As with most bachelor’s degrees, the program is 120 credits. Courses may include basic mathematical principles for the first two years and can either be online or on campus. The curriculum also includes knowledge of criminal investigation, taxation, law processes, and fraud detection and prevention.

Understanding the criminal justice system is also a must. Although many careers in forensic accounting only require a BS degree for entry-level positions, some graduates would benefit from going the extra mile and receiving an advanced-level degree from a master’s degree in forensic accounting. In fact, many colleges and universities will offer a dual-degree option, which combines a bachelor’s degree with a graduate program for the accounting program. Read on to learn more about the most common careers in forensic accounting. 

Careers in Forensic Accounting

There are many options for a person choosing a career in the accounting field since the industry is quite broad. One of the most common positions is a financial and fraud investigator. Another possible career opportunity is as an auditor. Whatever your choice is, the accounting field will be one that can provide many benefits to the candidate in the field. Below are some of the top jobs, the degree needed to do the job, and their descriptions in the accounting field. These are what most experts in the forensic accounting career are applying their knowledge and skills toward. 

Top Choices of Accounting Careers:

Fraud Investigator – investigate cases of insurance and credit card fraud, perform a wide range of tasks for civil and criminal investigations, and research records and transactions. Fraud Investigators commonly will require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and accounting. 

Financial forensic analyst – Investigates and uncovers acts of embezzlement, accounting fraud, or financial crimes. Have the ability to determine evidence of criminal activity by analyzing the business’ or organization’s financial statements. A degree in forensic accounting is required. 

Internal auditing manager – May oversee the auditing of accounting and financial data from various departments within an organization. A BS in accounting will be necessary to have. 

Operational risk consultant – Reporting assessments and monitoring the risks of an organization’s operations. Types of risks monitored include operational, financial, technological, and compliance-related. BS in accounting is needed, however, many times a master’s is recommended. 

Anti-Money Laundering specialists – They investigate potential money laundering risks at banks and financial institutions. They may also ensure the efficient identification, monitoring, and documentation of suspicious transactions. In most cases, students should have a bachelor’s degree in accounting.   

Certified Fraud Examiner – conducts professional expertise in investigations regarding illegal activity in banks, corporations, and retail stores. They may also review documents and perform interviews with suspects of a financial fraud claim. To work as this type of forensic accountant, students should have a degree in accounting or white-collar crimes.