If you are interested in pursuing forensic accounting as a career, you should know what degree choices are available. Will any bachelor’s degree, for starters, in accounting suffice to enter this field? On the other hand, do you need a more specialized degree? The latter being a degree titled as forensic accounting or a concentration of it. There are options – you are not limited to a single degree.
Here are examples of some of the possibilities.
- A Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a focus on Forensic Accounting could be part of the school’s Business Administration program. In addition to accounting, you explore criminal justice topics, such as white-collar crime, fraud, and the justice system.
- A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination focuses on finance, accounting, cyber security, and securities fraud, among others.
- A Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Forensic Accounting deals with fraud, criminal law, and criminal investigation. Your accounting major provides courses in business statistics, finance, marketing, macroeconomics, accounting systems, and more.
- Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation involves various aspects of economic crime. For examples, money laundering, investment fraud, wire fraud, health care fraud, and insurance fraud.
Schools offering a major or minor in forensic accounting may offer the degree under the banner of business administration, accounting, criminal justice, business, or leadership and social change.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report on the occupation of forensic accountants. They have the category of Accountants and Auditors that numbered 1,397,700 in 2016. The job growth is expected to be 10% or a change in 139,900 jobs over the ten years from 2016 to 2026. However, this may be an inaccurate representation of the job market for forensics. Forensic accounting is a specialized area within the scope of accounting and finance. Therefore, you would expect fewer employees.
One way of insight into the job possibilities is to look at prominent employment sites, such as Indeed and LinkedIn. Both of these have current postings for forensic accountants throughout the United States.
Jobs are available in the private and public sectors, as well as government agencies. The following are samples of industries engaged in conducting forensic accounting services directly and as consultants.
Global consulting firms employ forensic accountants as part of their menu of services in legal, finance, accounting, auditing, and forensics. In unison with lawyers, the accountants may analyze financial statements, assess lost profits, prepare reports for litigation, and review tax returns.
At the state level of government, there are job openings for forensic accountants within the Attorney General’s Office. As an example, the State of Oklahoma requires an accountant to assist attorneys with the review, investigation, and interpretation of financial information for inaccuracies. Candidates for this position must have a CPA or Certified Public Accountant license.
Another example is New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice, which is associated with the Office of the Attorney General. A forensic accountant in this role works in conjunction with lawyers, investigators, and legal assistants. Accounting investigations involve taxpayer fraud, securities fraud, internet crimes, and organized crime.
Companies who supply investigative, compliance, and cyber defense services need forensic accountants. One example is K2 Intelligence in New York City whose client services extend to financial and forensic investigations. This service involves the review of volumes of business data to determine if misappropriation or embezzlement occurred.
Some corporations specialize in a host of forensic investigations. These may include evidence gathering, data breach response, computer forensics, IP theft, fraud, white-collar crime, and other quantitative losses.
Qualified individuals may aspire to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The federal agency hires forensic accountants to investigate the funding of illegal activities, corporate fraud, mortgage fraud, and commodities fraud. The FBI requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting. They also prefer professional certifications, such as CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), or Certified Financial Forensics (CFF). In addition to your degree and certifications, candidates must meet their stringent eligibility standards, namely the background investigation.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) also performs forensic accounting into criminal and regulatory financial matters. The Financial Investigative Services Division conducts forensic audits in the enforcement of the U.S. Department of Justice Asset Seizure and Forfeiture authority. Their auditors assist ATF agents, as well as Federal, state, and local prosecutors.
Forensic accounting has many job avenues to seek employment for those with a penchant for numbers. The skills of accounting seem paramount to any job related to investigative work in accounting.