Forensic accounting is the application of accounting principles, theories and discipline to facts or hypotheses at issue in a legal dispute and encompasses every branch of accounting knowledge.The purpose of the Forensic Accounting program is to prepare undergraduate students for careers in the professions of forensic accounting and fraud examination and to serve the profession and the community. If you are interested in forensic accounting degrees or are looking for a forensic accounting program, consider enrolling in CollegeAmerica’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting program with a Forensic Accounting emphasis.
Forensic accountants are the financial world’s crime watchdogs. Using sophisticated technology and accounting and auditing procedures, they investigate white-collar crimes, help with the litigation of contract disputes and bankruptcies, and navigate complicated and possibly criminal transactions like money laundering. Additionally, forensic accounting professionals may be called upon to act as witnesses in legal proceedings.
Forensic Accounting Degrees and Career Training
While there is no specific education or certification requirement to set up shop as a forensic accountant, accounting degrees and appropriate certification certainly increase your credibility and marketability among employers. Ideally, a forensic accountant would possess:
· A bachelor’s degree with at least a minor in accounting and preferably a major in accounting or forensic accounting. A master’s in accounting and/or licensure as a Certified Public Accountant is even better.
· Certified Fraud Examiner or Certified Financial Forensic Accountant designation, obtained by taking and passing either the CFE or CFFA exam. Candidates for the CFE must have a bachelor’s degree, two years of relevant experience, and the ability to pass a four-part exam. Related work experience may, in some cases, be substituted for the educational requirement.
· Membership in the American College of Forensic Examiners or similar professional association.
Employment Growth in Forensic Accounting
The corporate accounting scandals of recent years have led to increasing scrutiny over corporations’ financial reporting practices, and the establishment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This federal regulation forces companies to strengthen their internal financial systems and reporting accuracy, making them rely more on accounting professionals. Therefore, opportunities for accountants in all specialties are projected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
In particular, work opportunities in forensic accounting will grow. Companies’ increased focus on financial crimes such as embezzlement, bribery, and fraud will definitely increase the demand for forensic accounting professionals who have received specialized career training in how to address and report such issues. Most accounting firms maintain separate forensic accounting departments specializing in insurance claims, personal injury claims, fraud, royalty issues, etc. Forensic accountants are also in high demand on audit committees, insurance companies, banks, police forces, and other government bodies.
Additionally, as companies continue to increase their reliance on technology, there will be a greater demand for professionals trained in monitoring and investigating technological security. A 2008 survey of 1,400 chief financial officers found that of all the career training they’d received–including finance, accounting, sales, marketing, and the law–information technology surpassed all of these in importance in their day-to-day work. For those who wish to pursue forensic accounting, accounting degrees often provide excellent career training in the latest reporting software and security programs, which should provide an edge in an employment search.
Most accounting firms now have a department of forensic accountants that are hired by government agencies, businesses and other entities. Nobody wants to be caught in the middle of a corporate scandal these days! The Enron scandal will forever change the landscape of corporate accounting and audting. Forensic accountants are charged to constantly and actively look for incidents of fraud and other white collar crimes amidst financial transactions. If you are interested in crunching financial numbers, auditing, investigating, providing evidence in legal cases and helping prevent fraud then a forensic accounting degree may just be a good fit.
Certain universities and colleges offer forensic accounting programs either at the certificate, Bachelors or Masters levels. You can also take a Bachelor of Science/Commerce in Accounting with a specialization in Forensic Accounting. With the availability of remote technology, many of these institutions can offer online forensic accounting degree or diploma programs. Completing an online program allows you to study at a time and place that conveniently match your lifestyle. Depending on what level of education you pursue, length of study varies from eight weeks for a certificate program to four plus years for undergraduate/graduate degrees. As part of a forensic accounting degree, you will complete courses that delve into areas such as criminal justice, fraud prevention, white collar crime, criminal investigation, forensic accounting procedures, computer forensics, auditing, interview techniques, statistics and database management.
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