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A Career In Forensic Accounting

Aug 17, 2007
What Is Forensic Accounting?

The forensic accountant calculates damage and helps in settling disputes before they reach the courtroom. If the dispute goes as far as the courtroom, the forensic accountant can double as an expert witness. In an investigation, they review the situation and come up with possible course of action, assist in the recovery of assets and work with private investigators and consultants.

As a part of the job, they may recommend the action that should be taken and the steps necessary to minimize future risk. They may also aid in the investigation of civil matters. For example, a forensic accountant may be hired to search for hidden assets in a divorce case.

Who Hires Forensic Accountants?

There are a number of industries that hire forensic accountants. Divorce disputes, investigation claims of business negligence and personal injury claims are a few fields that need the help of these professionals. Forensic Accountants find work in major accounting firms and are a part of investigating mergers and acquisitions, tax investigations and economic crime investigations.

Forensic Accountants work in all branches of the government, from the FBI, the IRS and the CIA to offices of the local authorities. Public companies are likely to increase the hiring of forensic accounting in the future, due to the need for strong internal control to comply with government demands for accurate financial reporting. More and more companies now realize that forensic accountants help in the detection and prevention of misuse of company resources.

How Can I Become A Forensic Accountant?

Most existing forensic accountants have a bachelor's degree in accounting and a number of them have additional academic qualifications in fields such as law enforcement and criminal justice. To be a forensic accountant, you generally require a CPA designation. To increase your value as a forensic accountant, you can take the Certified Fraud Examiner Exam that is administered by the ACFE. By earning this certification, you can improve your chances of landing a better position.

How Much Can A Forensic Accountant Make?

You can expect to earn around $30,000 to $60,000 a year, in an average entry-level position. After acquiring a few years of experience, you could easily improve your annual salary to six figures. It is quite common for experienced forensic accountants to make more than $100,000 a year.

What Other Skills Do I Need?

A forensic accountant has to combine the skills of a record keeper, a paralegal and a detective. In short, forensic accounting requires you to possess the ability to think logically. A capable forensic accountant must possess curiosity, persistence, discretion, organization, confidence, professional judgment and creativity. In addition, the forensic accountant must have good communication skills and the ability to listen patiently. You must be updated on recent developments in the field in order to be effective.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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