Forensic accountants work in investigative auditing and accounting to produce analyses that can be used in a court of law. The investigation covers such areas as insurance claims, personal injury claims, business disputes and even criminal investigations and financial fraud. Forensic accountants also provide expert testimony in court and are expected to be able to describe complex financial information in easy-to-understand terms.
The starting salary for a forensic accountant, as of 2009, ranges between $30,000 and $60,000 depending on the location of the job. Many forensic accountants eventually make six figures with $150,000 not being uncommon. The average annual salary for forensic accountants is $74,000.
To become an accountant one needs to get a degree in accounting at the associate, bachelor's or master's level. Since forensic accounting requires advanced study, at least a bachelor's degree is required.
Before becoming a forensic accountant, you will need to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which involves taking and passing the certification exam and meeting the other requirements for being a CPA.
Special Training and Certification
Additional training is needed to become a forensic accountant, and there are several classes available, especially online. The American College of Forensic Examiners (ACFEI) offers an online course. Upon completing your training, you will need to take and pass the ACFEI forensic accounting certification to attain certified forensic accountant (Cr. FA) designation, as well as complete 15 hours of continuing education requirements each year in order to maintain Cr. FA certification.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for accountants and auditors in general is good. The number of jobs available to this group is expected to increase 18 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is described as faster than the average for all occupations. In times of economic meltdowns and financial improprieties, forensic accountants are expected to be especially busy.