How to Become a Forensic Accountant


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‘How to Become A Forensic Accountant’ is a guide for those who are contemplating a career in forensic accounting. The article discusses certain important points like how do you become a forensic accountant, job profile of forensic accountants, education & training and employment opportunities which can help in ones endeavor of becoming a forensic accountant.

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How to Become a Forensic Accountant

  1. 1. How to Become a Forensic AccountantMove over, suit-clad, briefcase-toting accountants who work numbers within the four walls of anoffice. A new and exciting breed of accountants is here: They uncover fraud, solve financialcrimes, and appear as expert witnesses in court. Their job can be filled with mystery, intrigue, andthrills—a far cry from the image of a stereotypical accountant. They’re called forensicaccountants.What Do Forensic Accountants Do?Forensic accountants are people who use their accounting and auditing knowledge to investigatewhite-collar crime and provide analysis that is admissible in a court of law. Although forensicaccountants have been around for some time, it’s only recently that they have come into thepublic eye, owing to a rise in the number of financial fraud cases and an increasingly complexbusiness environment.Given this background, the job of a forensic accountant is filled with challenges. Some of theirduties include: • Legal investigation of a company’s financial documents • Examination of a firm’s accounting practices to detect illegal activities • Investigation of criminal matters like identity theft and insurance fraud • Probing financial crimes like securities fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, etc. • Investigating the financial angle of divorce cases • Examining bankruptcy cases filed by individuals or businesses • Supporting legal proceedings by participating in trials as expert witnessIf you feel your adrenaline pump when you read that job description, you may want to giveforensic accounting a serious shot.How to Become a Forensic AccountantForensic accounting is a specialized branch of accounting and, consequently, you needspecialized education to become a forensic accountant.You can choose a bachelor’s degree in accounting, which is a four-year academic programavailable at most universities and colleges. Some institutions offer a forensic accounting degreeor emphasis, which may include specially designed courses on the subject.Whichever educational path you choose, your next step toward becoming a forensic accountantis to earn your certified public accountant (CPA) license, which takes additional time and expenseoutside of the degree. This involves taking a rigorous four-part examination conducted by theAmerican Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).Training and CertificationsSeveral organizations, such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the AmericanCollege of Forensic Examiners International, also offer training and certifications for aspiringforensic accountants. Getting additional certification from these organizations may help forensicaccountants prove their increased competency in the field and boost their prospects in the jobmarket.In addition to completing training and certifications, forensic accountants should join professionalorganizations to increase their credibility, as well as attend seminars and workshops to keepabreast of the changes taking place in the industry.
  2. 2. Employment OpportunitiesForensic accountants may find themselves on the rolls of any organization that needs theirspecial investigative accounting skills. A diverse cross-section of organizations and industriesretain the services of forensic accountants, including law enforcement agencies such as policedepartments and courts; insurance companies; banks and other financial institutions; governmentbodies; and private corporations.The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition, projects a 22percent increase in the overall employment of accountants and auditors through 2018, so nowcould be the time to enter this exciting profession. (