Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated October 2010
Studying In the field
In addition to an undergraduate degree in a field such as accounting or business, some forensic accountants have backgrounds in law enforcement or criminal justice. A few schools offer accounting degrees with an emphasis in forensic accounting. For people already in the accounting field, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers a certification exam. Entry-level forensic accountants typically earn between $30,000 and $60,000. Forensic accountants who have worked in the field for several years can make six figures.
Job opportunities In the field
The field of forensic accounting is a specialty area of accounting that has to do with lawsuits or legal disputes. Webster’s dictionary defines the word “forensic” as “belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature or to public discussion and debate.” A forensic accountant might investigate white-collar crimes such as fraud or analyze financial information in a personal injury case. Sometimes forensic accountants, also called forensic auditors or investigative auditors, need to be expert witnesses at trials.
All of the Big Four accounting firms have forensic accounting departments. In addition, some smaller firms, such as Boston-based Feeley & Driscoll, offer forensic accounting services. International forensic accounting firm MD&D has 32 offices in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore. Police departments, government agencies, insurance companies and other businesses also hire forensic accountants.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the demand for all accountants, including forensic accountants, to increase. The BLS explains, “Increased focus on and numbers of financial crimes such as embezzlement, bribery, and securities fraud will increase the demand for forensic accountants to detect illegal financial activity by individuals, companies, and organized crime rings. Computer technology has made these crimes easier to commit, and they are on the rise. At the same time, the development of new computer software and electronic surveillance technology has made tracking down financial criminals easier, thus increasing the ease, and likelihood of, discovery. As success rates of investigations grow, demand for forensic accountants will increase.”
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