Is a Forensic Accounting Degree Right for You?

Forensic accounting is a niche in the accounting field, in which accountants work alongside the legal system to resolve financial disputes and solve crimes. Forensic accounting may also be referred to as investigative accounting, as it uses accounting and financial analysis practices and systems to investigate fraud, white collar crimes, tax evasion, divorce and alimony payments, and more.

A forensic accounting degree program includes study in finance, accounting, and criminal justice and prepares students to testify in court and collaborate with law enforcement personnel. Graduates of forensic accounting programs can go on to work at insurance companies, large companies, law firms, governmental agencies, and banks.

Advice for Earning Your Forensic Accounting Degree Online

Online bachelor’s degree programs in forensic accounting may be difficult to find. However, you should be able to choose from a number of accounting degree programs that offer concentrations in forensic or investigative accounting. You should confirm that your school of choice is accredited before moving forward with enrollment.

Accreditation demonstrates to employers that a graduate has received adequate training in their field, and it’s required for students to be eligible for federal financial aid. Also, confirm that the program’s curriculum and accreditation meets the requirements in your state to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. It may be required for some accounting positions, should you decide to transition out of forensics.

Required Courses

Online Forensic Accounting degree programs usually build your accounting skills from the ground up. You will take courses in business, financial reporting, accounting and more, with core courses in forensic and investigative accounting techniques. Some required courses might include:

  • Business Law
  • Detection and Prevention of Fraudulent Financial Statements
  • Auditing Principles
  • Introduction to Forensic Accounting
  • Governmental Accounting

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Accounting include:

Forensic Accountants and Auditors

  • Expected Growth: 16 %
  • Average Annual Salary: $61,690

Forensic accountants assist federal criminal investigations by examining financial reports to determine if any laws are being broken. They use their knowledge of accounting, finance, and criminal justice to investigate securities fraud, embezzlement, bankruptcies, and other financial crimes. Many accountants are required to appear as expert witnesses during trials.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting or forensic accounting is typically required for employment. However, employers may prefer an applicant who has a master’s degree. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes.

Financial Examiners

  • Expected Growth: 27%
  • Average Annual Salary: $74,940

Financial examiners are responsible for evaluating banks and financial institutions to ensure they remain in good financial standing and follow federal banking laws. Their tasks might include calculating the risk attached to loans to maintain the bank’s credit status or monitoring loan practices to make sure banks operate ethically.

A degree or forensic accounting is not required for this position; an accounting bachelor’s degree will do. However, a forensic accounting degree may provide you with additional auditing and investigative skills that will be useful in this field. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Tax Examiners, Tax Collectors, and Revenue Agents

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $49,360

Tax examiners and collectors work for the government, either at the local, state, or federal level, to ensure individuals and business pay taxes. This may involve calculating underpayments and pursuing individuals or businesses for payment, investigating financial documents and records, and more. A bachelor’s degree in Forensic Accounting or Accounting is necessary to work in this field, although you may need to significant experience to work at the federal level. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

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