Forensic Accounting Careers An Overview

The profession of forensic accounting has been around for a long time. In ancient Egypt, scribes were given the responsibility of keeping a vigilant eye on the Pharaoh’s wealth, ensuring that the record books tallied and that nobody was swindling His Highness out of gold, grain, or other valuables. *Today’s forensic accountant has similar responsibilities. A forensics accountant ascertains the reliability of financial data, identifies white-collar crime, compiles data that proves instances of fraud, and can also assist in the legal aspects of financial fraud by acting as a witness or preparing/compiling evidence and reports. Careers in forensic accounting demand a background in finance and accounting, legal knowledge, and familiarity with business practices, as well as strong deductive and analytical skills.

There are three main facets to forensic accounting careers: investigation, dispute resolution, and litigation.

–Investigation takes place to ascertain if a monetary crime such as embezzlement, fraud, bribery, or money laundering has taken place. –As part of litigation, a forensic accountant will examine the financial statements/data provided and quantify the damages incurred in an economic dispute before the matter is taken to court. –When a dispute is taken to court, a forensic accountant can perform the function of an expert witness.

Studies show that white-collar crime is on the rise. For example, the average organization loses approximately 5% of its yearly revenue due to fraud. *Forensic investigators can prevent, detect, and prove monetary discrepancies, crimes, and fraud, and hence are in great demand across a wide span of industries and in a number of professional capacities. Forensic accountants are employed by accounting firms, law firms, corporations, healthcare providers, insurance agencies, banks, income tax offices, government and law enforcement agencies, and more.

In order to become a forensic accountant, you need to complete an accounting degree program at the bachelorlevel, but a degree with a focus in accounting forensics is preferred by employers. A forensic accounting program provides instruction in basic, intermediate, and advanced accounting, payroll accounting, federal taxation, auditing, spreadsheets, etc., but also incorporates courses such as fraud examination, legal elements of fraud, governance and internal control assessment, and psychology, all meant to equip you to fulfill the role of a forensic accountant.

The forensic accounting emphasis takes approximately four years to complete, but select colleges allow you to complete it in as few as 30 months. Admission criteria generally include a high school diploma or its equivalent GED® credential. In addition to the Accounting Degree, some employers may also require a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification in order to gain employment. Some employers may even require a Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) credential.

Becoming a forensic accountant means investing time, money, and effort towards gaining the necessary education, certifications, and experience. However, a forensic accountant can potentially enjoy a stable, engaging, and fulfilling career, which can make the investment well worth it.

*American Institute of Certified Public Accountants ( http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2000/oct/sothatswhyitscalledapyramidscheme.htm) *2010 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (http://www.acfe.com/rttn/rttn-2010.pdf)

CollegeAmerica® was established in 1964 and has grown to six campuses with comfortable facilities in Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona. CollegeAmerica has trained generations of graduates for new careers through its degree programs. CollegeAmerica offers associate’s, associate’s of occupational studies, and bachelor’s undergraduate degrees in healthcare, business, graphic arts, and information technology. Flexible online programs are offered by its affiliated institution, Stevens-Henager College, Salt Lake City/Murray.

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