Forensic Accountant Salary

By Henry R. Steele - January 8, 2018
Reading Time: 6 minutes

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.

Job Duties

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.

Education Requirements

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

Minimum Education

Master’s Degree

National Salary

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.

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$26,000

$168,000

Salary Distribution

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.

Alabama Florida Massachusetts Oregon
Arizona Georgia Maryland Pennsylvania
California Illinois New Jersey Texas
DC Indiana New York Virginia
Alabama$73,245 Rank: 11th

The average salary ranks 11th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$36,000

$122,000

Salary Distribution
Arizona$63,023 Rank: 16th

The average salary ranks 16th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$27,000

$113,000

Salary Distribution
California$77,258 Rank: 9th

The average salary ranks 9th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Consortium International, Ledgent Finance & Accounting, FBI, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$25,000

$156,000

Salary Distribution
DC$89,727 Rank: 3rd

The average salary ranks 3rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Gables Search Group, Career Development Partners, Chicago Search Group, and FBI.

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$45,000

$145,000

Salary Distribution
Florida$84,377 Rank: 6th

The average salary ranks 6th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders and Ascendo Resources.

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$32,000

$161,000

Salary Distribution
Georgia$69,802 Rank: 12th

The average salary ranks 12th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$35,000

$106,000

Salary Distribution
Illinois$68,284 Rank: 13th

The average salary ranks 13th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$22,000

$138,000

Salary Distribution
Indiana$79,027 Rank: 8th

The average salary ranks 8th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$40,000

$122,000

Salary Distribution
Massachusetts$65,477 Rank: 14th

The average salary ranks 14th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Valuation Forensics, LLC and Accountemps.

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$23,000

$130,000

Salary Distribution
Maryland$63,891 Rank: 15th

The average salary ranks 15th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$21,000

$130,000

Salary Distribution
New Jersey$106,524 Rank: 2nd

The average salary ranks 2nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Kforce Finance and Accounting.

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$53,000

$163,000

Salary Distribution
New York$89,366 Rank: 4th

The average salary ranks 4th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Pure Search, Marcum Search LLC, The Forum Group, and FBI.

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$26,000

$190,000

Salary Distribution
Oregon$82,080 Rank: 7th

The average salary ranks 7th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$38,000

$143,000

Salary Distribution
Pennsylvania$76,078 Rank: 10th

The average salary ranks 10th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI.

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$37,000

$129,000

Salary Distribution
Texas$85,837 Rank: 5th

The average salary ranks 5th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, FBI, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$31,000

$167,000

Salary Distribution
Virginia$115,667 Rank: 1st

The average salary ranks 1st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like FBI and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$21,000

$287,000

Salary Distribution

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

Learn More

Related Careers

Career Name Average Salary
Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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