The following article discusses the career path of Forensic Accountant. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of Forensic Accountants.
Forensic accountants work for a bank, insurance company, government agency, or police force. Some have their own private practice. Their role is to determine whether any fraudulent activities are taking place. Specifically, they gather, analyze, and investigate financial evidence. Some may also take part in legal proceedings. They are often called upon as an expert witness, preparing visual aids to explain their findings in layman’s terms.
Other job duties of forensic accountants are:
- To ensure all financial statements are compliant with federal and state regulations
- To summarize and report on financial findings
- To collect, analyze, and investigate financial documents, account histories, and transactions
- To use the generally accepted accounting principles, as well as auditing and financial analysis knowledge, to prepare for litigation and legal disputes
Where We Work
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1.4 million accountants and auditors in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals were:
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 25%
- Government: 8%
- Finance and insurance: 8%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
- Self-employed workers: 7%
How to Become
Generally, a master’s degree is required for someone to work as a forensic accountant. The major can be in finance, general accounting, forensic accounting, or a related field. Additionally, they must be knowledgeable about relevant laws surrounding white collar crimes. Furthermore, most forensic accountants have further designations, such as CFE, CPA, CIA, and/or CFF-AICPA. This demonstrates that they understand the different financial analytical and accounting practices and understand all the different methods of financial transfers. Having this type of certification also proves that they keep their knowledge up to date.
Because forensic accounting is such a specialized area of accountancy, it is generally expected that a forensic accountant holds a master’s degree in a relevant field. Furthermore, it is important that they hold certifications and licenses as well.
The vast majority are a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This means that they have to complete education beyond their bachelor’s degree and pass the CPA exam. To be a CPA, an accountant must meet and exceed the 150 semester hours of coursework requirement for the certification examination. The CPA examination is offered by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). CPA certification must be maintained through continuous education.
Other certifications can also be beneficial for someone working as a forensic accountant, including:
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) offered by the Institute of Management Accountants
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
- Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) offered by the IIA
- Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) offered by the IIA
- Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) offered by the IIA
- Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) offered by the IIA
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- CPA Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) offered by AICPA
- CPA Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) offered by AICPA
- CPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) offered by AICPA
Traits & Qualities
The most effective forensic accountants have the following traits to some degree or other:
- Strong analytical skills
- Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
- Detail oriented
- Excellent mathematical skills
- Strong organizational skills
The national average salary estimate for Forensic Accountant was $82,160. This number is estimated from over 80,724 employees, users past and present job advertisements from Indeed.com. This equates to an hourly salary of $42.79 and monthly of $6,847.
- Most Reported
Salary by State
The following section lists Forensic Accountant salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, Virginia had the largest quoted salary of $115,667 while Arizona had the smallest quoted salary of $63,023.
Top 20 National Employers
According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a Forensic Accountant. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.
|Employer Name||Location||Average Salary|
|Robert Half Finance & Accounting||Virginia||$123,751|
|Kforce Finance and Accounting||New Jersey||$111,757|
|Selby Jennings||New York||$105,949|
|Creative Financial Staffing||California||$100,000|
|Pure Search||New York||$95,815|
|Gables Search Group||DC||$90,000|
|Career Development Partners||DC||$90,000|
|Chicago Search Group||DC||$90,000|
|Phillips Staffing Solutions||DC||$87,909|
|PMG Employment Consultants||DC||$87,909|
- Forensic accounting – Wikipedia
- Characteristics and Skills of the Forensic Accountant
- What is a Forensic Accountant? | Forensic CPA Society
|Career Name||Average Salary|
|Information Technology Manager||$83,668|
|Business Systems Analyst||$82,655|
|Director of Communications||$81,076|