Become a Certified Forensic Accountant with an Online Forensic Accounting Degree
a forensic accountant could be thought of as an accounting detective. Instead of keeping a company's books, such a person works in an investigative role to verify records, collect information and interview people.
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The individual's purpose is to detect and report—and in some cases prosecute accounting fraud, theft, and other finance related white collar crime. The crimes could be anything from "cooking the books" to make a business seem more profitable than it really is to out and out money laundering. (Money laundering is the act of using legitimate institutions to transfer large sums of money that have been either obtained illegally or will ultimately be used for criminal purposes.) Careers in this field provide an interesting alternative to working as a business accountant while still using the knowledge accumulated in your accounting courses. The salary is usually much higher as well.
A forensic accounting certification is good for people who have good analytical and communication skills. Additionally, you need to be able to recognize indicators that fraud could be taking place even before actual wrong doing has been detected. You may be called upon to present your information in court, and need to be prepared to defend your own conclusions aggressively as the opposition will certainly be prepared to challenge your findings and/or allegations.
It has been said that forensic accounting is the fastest growing type of accounting.
Some types of crimes that are investigated using highly developed computer programs along with the investigators skills are:
- Employee dishonesty;
- Business income loss;
- Wrongful death claims;
- Divorce claims;
- Business valuation.
Organizations that might have openings for certified forensic accountants include:
- Consumer dealerships;
- Education institutions;
- Construction and contracting firms;
- Financial institutions;
- Health care;
- Hospitality organizations;
- Real estate;
- Government agencies; and more.
You may be able to work within the firm itself or you maybe able to start your own consulting business and work as a freelance consultant. Of course the latter will be a more viable option once you have developed a track record of excellence within the field. If you choose to stay within a firm, you may start as an auditor and eventually move into a management field in charge of a team of investigative accountants.
The usual education requirement for a forensic accountant is a four year business accounting degree and a CPA designation. Often those who are trying to become forensic accountants already have a bachelor's degree and accounting experience. The forensic accounting program of study is in this case a master's degree or higher.