Forensic accounting is a branch of accounting that investigates cases of financial fraud. These can range from personal cases, such as a bankruptcy or divorce, to large cases that involve entire corporations. Forensic accountants examine cases of money laundering and other illegal financial activity. Often times, forensic accountants are even called to the witness stand to testify based on the evidence they uncover. The public perception of forensic accounting is often much more glamorous than the public perception of auditing. However, like most careers, forensic accounting careers have both their exciting and ordinary moments.
Forensic accounting careers are a good match for you if you have an interest in business and finance as well as an interest in the law. To work as a forensic accountant, you will need to earn at least your bachelor’s degree. Many accounting students who have an interest in forensic accounting take additional classes in law or criminal justice to augment their background in finance. Good forensic accountants will be good at analyzing the documents they audit and drawing conclusions based on evidence found in the financial statements they examine.
You will likely want to get your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification as a forensic accountant. Additional certification is available for forensic accountants as well. You may want to earn your Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) or Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification. Getting certified gives you a step up in the job market and proves to potential clients that you are good at what you do.
As a forensic accountant, you could work for a variety of different organizations. Many forensic accountants work for government agencies, such as the IRS. Others even work for police departments and other areas within government, but there are still lots of opportunities for work in the private sector, too. Large accounting firms hire forensic accountants, as do individuals. Sometimes, an organization, such as a bank, will hire an in-house forensic accountant to verify their financial statements and make sure every transaction is done legally.
Forensic accounting salaries vary based on where you work. Usually, forensic accounting salaries mirror public accounting salaries. In an entry-level position, you could be making around $50,000 per year. As your forensic accounting career improves, you could earn around $100,000 in a managerial position with the possibility for more improvement depending on where your career takes you.