Forensic Accounting Career Information and Education Requirements

Forensic accountants, who are licensed accountants, use their skills in finance and accounting to help investigate white-collar crimes. People of high respectability and social status who are able to steal money through work commit the types of crimes forensic accountants work on.

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Career Information for Forensic Accountants

Forensic accountants work with law enforcement officials and lawyers to determine whether illegal transactions have occurred. They investigate different crimes related to fraud, such as corporate, health care, mass marketing, hedge fund and securities fraud. Money laundering, contract disputes, embezzlement and bankruptcy are among other crimes explored.

In addition to understanding accounting techniques and financial transactions done at corporate and government levels, forensic accountants must have a clear understanding as to what constitutes legal and illegal transactions. They understand auditing in order to analyze financial, bank and credit statements. Forensic accountants may also be required to understand computer technology and get into a suspect's related digital files.

All accountants and auditors could expect employment to increase 16% from the years 2010 and 2020, predicted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS also indicated that these workers earned median annual wages of $63,550 in May 2012.

Education Requirements for Forensic Accountants

Like all accountants, forensic accountants are required to have earned a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related subject. The curriculum often consists of classes in business administration, finance, marketing, economics and statistics. Graduates who earn a graduate certificate or master's degree in forensic accounting can increase their employment and salary potential. Students who didn't major in accounting as undergraduates can also benefit from advanced education in the subject.

Forensic accountants are also generally required to have their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. Graduates must complete a certain number of semester hours beyond a bachelor's degree. In most states, the required number is 30 semester hours. Some schools offer a combined 5-year program for those looking to become CPAs. Forensic accountants can also become a Certified Fraud Examiner or Certified Forensic Accountant. Two years of experience is necessary to take the applicable exams.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics