Accounting CSI - The World of Forensic Accounting by primusboy


									Accounting CSI - The World of Forensic Accounting
What do you get when you combine investigation with accounting and
auditing? You get the exciting field of Forensic Accounting. The word
forensic means "suitable for use in a court of law," and that is the high
standard that Forensic Accountants are held to. Forensic Accounting
provides an accounting analysis that is suitable to a court of law and is
used to help resolve both civil and criminal cases. Forensic accountants
often have to give expert evidence at trial.
What is a Forensic Accountant?
Forensic accounting encompasses three main areas: litigation support,
investigation, and dispute resolution. Litigation support represents the
factual presentation of economic issues related to existing or pending
litigation. In this capacity, the forensic accounting professional
quantifies damages sustained by parties involved in legal disputes and
can assist in resolving disputes, even before they reach the courtroom.
If a dispute reaches the courtroom, the forensic accountant may testify
as an expert witness.
Investigation is the act of determining whether criminal matters such as
employee theft, securities fraud (including falsification of financial
statements), identity theft, and insurance fraud have occurred. As part
of the forensic accountant's work, he or she may recommend actions that
can be taken to minimize future risk of loss. Investigation may also
occur in civil matters. For example, the forensic accountant may search
for hidden assets in divorce cases.
Forensic accounting involves looking beyond the numbers and grasping the
substance of situations. It's more than simple accounting, and more than
basic detective work. Because of its unique elements, it is a combination
that will be in demand for as long as human nature exists. Who wouldn't
want a career that offers such stability, excitement, and financial
Becoming a Forensic Accountant
The first step toward becoming a Forensic Accountant is taken by earning
a Bachelor's degree in accounting. This is a standard four-year degree
available at most colleges and universities, and many now offer this
degree as a distance learning option online.
Next, you must prepare for and sit for the Certified Public Accountant
exam to become a CPA. There are also online prep courses available to
help you easily pass your CPA exam.
Once you've earned your Bachelors in Accounting and passed the CPA exam,
you can begin practicing as a Forensic Accountant. However, to have the
best foothold in the field (as well as the best salary) you might also
consider graduate school. A Masters Degree in Forensic Accounting is now
available, both as a traditional Masters degree and also as a Masters of
Business Administration with a focus in Forensic Accounting. Earning a
graduate degree serves dual purposes-it further trains you for work in
the field, and also helps to fulfill the continuing education
requirements that are needed to maintain your CPA status.
You will find that additional coursework in areas like law enforcement
and criminal justice is usually required, and some legal training is
helpful. Additionally, you may want to pursue an accreditation as a
certified fraud examiner (CFE) from the Association of Certified Fraud
Examiners. This is a nationally recognized accreditation similar to the
CPA designation.
Last but not least, you also may want to pursue the Certified Forensic
Accountant (CrFA) accreditation. While this may seem on the surface like
a slam-dunk, in actuality this is a fairly new certification and not
every Forensic Accountant has it. As the industry continues to evolve,
however, it may well become the standard.
Forensic Accountant Career Outlook and Salary
Forensic Accountants work in most major accounting firms and are needed
for investigating mergers and acquisitions, and in tax investigations,
economic crime investigations, all kinds of civil litigation support,
specialized audits, and even in terrorist investigations. Forensic
Accountants work throughout the business world, in public accounting,
corporations, and in all branches of government. Forensic Accounting
firms are everywhere.
If you do an Internet search, you'll find article after article worrying
that the demand for Forensic Accountants far outstrips the current
supply. This translates into an anticipated growth in this field of
nearly 25% over the next ten years! You would be hard pressed to find a
more stable and in-demand career.
You will most likely start out earning between $30,000 and $40,000 a
year, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But after just a few
years of experience in the field, you can easily earn $70,000 to $80,000
a year. At the highest levels, particularly in the private sector,
forensic accountants can command $125,000 to $150,000 annually.
Forensic accountants are professionals who use a unique blend of
education and experience to apply accounting, auditing, and investigative
skills to uncover truth, form legal opinions, and assist in
investigations. If this sounds like you, consider a career in Forensic
Accounting-you won't regret it!

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