What is a Forensic Certified Public Accountant?

forensic accounting

The demand to fill forensic certified public accountant positions in various types of organizations is continuing to increase as the awareness and intolerance of fraud and the desire for financial transparency in all industries also continue to grow. With the right education and certifications, accounting professionals in this field are able to perform a number of tasks that protect the financial integrity of businesses, public organizations, and individuals.

Forensic Accounting Education and Certifications

To begin a career in the field of forensic accounting, future professionals need to complete a program in accounting or professional accounting. Typically, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required, although a master’s degree is often preferred, particularly for management and upper-level positions. In addition to completing a degree, completion of the Certified Public Accountant designation and the Forensic CPA Certification is necessary. These certifications require fulfillment of a number of hours of experience in addition to testing in various areas of the field. It is often helpful to have some criminal justice or law enforcement background, training, or education to successfully pursue positions in this field.

The various courses and training a future forensic accountant will complete in an accounting program will help to build the skills that are necessary to effectively prevent and detect fraud. Skills that are helpful for meeting the demands of a forensic accounting position include an understanding of accounting procedures; knowledge of the legal system and legal processes; and the ability to communicate and summarize research.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Forensic Certified Public Accountant

A forensic certified public accountant utilizes a combination of skills when investigating illegal financial activities. These activities can include: embezzlement, money laundering, fraudulent insurance claims, securities fraud, misappropriation of assets, credit card fraud, and telemarketing fraud. To investigate these types of fraud, accountants specializing in forensics compile and analyze data in order to assess damages, identify hidden assets, and trace funds. Additional daily tasks are likely to include writing reports, coordinating with experts and witnesses, designing and maintaining computer applications and systems, and managing documentation.

Career Possibilities for Forensic Certified Public Accountants

Forensic certified public accountants have a diverse set of skills that are beneficial for investigating financial discrepancies and fraud in many different types of organizations. Forensic accounting professional may work in public accounting firms, government agencies, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, health care and insurance organizations, non-profit organizations, and other private or public organizations that need to investigate or monitor financial activity.


The investigation and monitoring of financial information is becoming increasingly critical as demands for transparency and honesty in financial processes grows throughout society. Forensic certified professional accountant professionals are an essential part of the protection of individuals, corporations, and organizations from fraudulent activity.

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