Going beyond a bachelor’s degree and earning a master’s in accounting has its rewards. You might be surprised at the career paths you can follow. A master’s degree puts the credit hours under your belt that enable you to achieve certified public accountants (CPA) licensing. And there are so many more pathways ahead!
Have you ever thought about entering the fascinating field of forensic accounting? It’s one of the hottest careers in the law enforcement arena.
Forensic Accountants Follow the Money
How are crimes involving corporate, nonprofit, and government accounts sniffed out? They have digital fingerprints. They’re in tax records and bookkeeping software.
Experts—some trained as CPAs—track down traces of criminal acts in these records. These experts are vital to criminal cases. They make a difference in the outcomes in civil litigation as well. Their work draws out the evidence of corruption, including fraud, theft, money laundering, insider trading, embezzlement, and a host of other kinds of financial wrongs.
An Area of Accounting Whose Time Has Come
Not long ago, forensic accounting was nearly unheard-of. Today, with the explosive growth of computer and cloud-based communications, it’s on the radar of businesses and organizations of every size and scope. Ready to learn more? Let’s explore some questions and answers about this intriguing field.
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Where Do Forensic Accountants Work?
Some accountants focus on forensic work by contributing to state or federal police investigations. Some work for the FBI. Others work in-house at major corporations. Many find roles at public accounting businesses.
Some work for family lawyers who need to dispute fair outcomes for child support and the division of property in divorce cases. Others track down bankruptcy fraud.
Wherever they work, they are doing something new in accounting: Rather than crunching numbers, they are finding patterns of human behavior.
What Are the Steps to a Forensic Accounting Career?
The path to becoming a forensic accountant starts with a business or accounting bachelor’s degree. Then, many students go on to earn their certification or master’s in public accounting while gaining experience in an accounting job, preparing for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam, or a combination of both.
In their master’s studies, they may focus on forensic accounting specifically — which involves the in-depth study of study financial record-keeping, white-collar crimes, and investigation techniques.
What Special Certifications Can Help Expand Job Prospects?
Once qualified, you’d apply for forensic accountant openings. The position descriptions state the degree level necessary for the specific job opening and whether the firm is looking for a CPA. Many forensic accountants pursue specific credentials, such as:
- Certified Public Accountant.
- Certified Fraud Examiner.
- Certified Forensic Accountant.
- Certified Financial Forensics Specialist.
After being hired, forensic accountants are trained on the job. At the FBI, for example, the training for a forensic accountant could involve six weeks of immersion in financial investigation work and expert witness training.
How Do Cybersecurity Incidents Create Roles for Forensic Accountants?
Experts in forensic accounting might decide to specialize in hacking and online security practices. Cybersecurity is so vital in today’s business world that “the field of forensic accounting,” says New Jersey Business Magazine, “has arrived at the forefront.”
Forensic accountants answer calls to investigate hacking incidents. They are able to draw up reports so companies can report fraud to their customers and be better prepared to avert future disasters. They might help train staff in online safety, too.
After phishing and hacking incidents, forensic accounting specialists help managers add up the magnitude of their losses, and chart out the incident’s likely impact on reputation and financial performance of a company.
What Other Hot Topics Involve Forensic Accounting?
Other hotspots involve credit card fraud, insurance claims, and false statements made to obtain government contracts and monetary benefits.
Some forensic accountants are called in to investigate when a financial professional is suspected of diverting an organization’s funds for personal gain. Others find evidence of personal injury benefits fraud. Some uncover false statements admitted into courts in pursuit of unfair financial advantages.
As you can imagine, experience in coding, information technology, law, police work, psychology, or in any segment of the criminal justice system is helpful background knowledge.
What Are the Typical Working Hours for a Forensic Accountant?
There is no typical days or hours for the forensic accountant. Many people who seek out this career like it that way! As with many areas of accounting, there are opportunities to land 9-to-5 jobs. But there are plenty of challenges for people who set their own hours or for experts whose work ebbs and flows with court dockets or tax seasons.
Forensic accountants might start businesses as independent contractors, forming LLCs or S corporations. These business owners offer forensic auditing and consultancy services or serve as expert witnesses in criminal and civil litigation. They enjoy the sought-after benefits of choosing between stability and flexibility while earning solid incomes and enjoying an ever-unfolding range of new challenges and future options.
Why Post University?
With a master’s in accounting from Post University, you can prepare for CPA certification and pursue your career in forensic accounting. We know many master’s degree seekers are already working, and that’s why we have created a fully online master’s degree track. Yet you won’t miss out on the personal approach. Our faculty and staff treat you as an individual and work hard to ensure you receive personal attention every step of the way. If you’re ready to learn more, download your guide to pursing your accredited master’s in accounting, completely online.
At Post University, we’re committed to your current and future, success and very excited to show you the way to today’s leading-edge career options. We expect you’ll have many more questions, and we’re here to help you navigate the path ahead. Our admissions counselors can help point you in the right direction or answer questions about beginning your course work. So call us at 800.582.8250, and take the next step to one of the most exciting careers the accountancy space is offering today!