Becoming a Forensic Accountant

Updated February 21, 2017

There are several branches of accounting, and forensic accounting is becoming one of the most popular. This career path deals with audits, fraud, embezzlement and suspected illegal accounting practices. A forensic accountant investigates financial records of companies and individuals and then analyses and interprets them. In some cases, the information a forensic account finds is used as evidence in court proceedings. This speciality requires additional study and coursework to receive the designation of forensic accountant. The need for forensic accountants is expected to increase in the coming years.

Becoming a Forensic Accountant

The first step is to get a bachelor's degree in accounting from an accredited university or college. There are also master's degree programs in accounting. This is a one way to get advanced training. Still others take courses to become CPAs, or certified public accountant. A CPA is a person who has passed a licensing exams and met all other requirements for his state (see Resources below). Most forensic accountants are CPAs. To get work as a forensic accountant, most employers expect you to have a certification in forensic accounting. One option is the Certified Forensic Accountant, or CrFA. The American College of Forensic Examiners is a membership organisation responsible for administering and certifying individuals for the CrFA (see Resources below). Another option is the Certified Fraud Examiner, or CFA certification. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is a membership organisation that handles the CFA certification (see Resources below). You do not need to become a member of these organisations to take the CrFA or CFA exams, but the programs are more expensive for non-members. Another option to achieving your goal is to learn on the job. You can get an entry-level job in which you will be trained in forensic accounting, or once you get an accounting job, you can transfer to the forensic accounting department in the company.

Expanding Your Knowledge

Another thing that can help you gain more expertise as a forensic accountant is being proficient in various accounting and auditing software programs. Reading magazines in your field will keep you abreast of the latest trends, laws and regulations. "Forensic Accountant" and "Journal of Forensic Accounting" are two trade publications you should read regularly. Joining membership organisation such as those mentioned above is a good idea, because their websites have articles, jobs boards and forums. Another association to join is the Forensic Accountants Society of North America.

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