The field of forensic accounting offers many types of jobs in many types of organizations. With fraud at an all-time high today, the need for qualified forensic accountants and similar professionals has never been higher. While some forensic accountants may work independently as freelancers and provide their services as needed, other forensic accountants may work exclusively for one company. Here are some areas where forensic accountants may find work.
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Forensic accountants working for government agencies, like the CIA, IRS or FBI, have many responsibilities facing them throughout the course of their days. They track illicit funding sources; gather evidence; compile financial investigative reports; create financial profiles of suspicious people; investigate financial history of criminals, spies and terrorists; take part in interrogations; meet with law enforcement to discuss strategy, and testify as expert witnesses. For an entry-level position, applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, one year of specialized training, CPA and Fraud Examiner certification and the ability to obtain a top-secret security clearance.
Many forensic accountants start their careers working as accountants in accounting firms and advance to become forensic accountants. Their duties may include collecting evidence and uncovering fraud; performing computer forensics; counting financial losses due to internal fraud or misconduct; conducting fact-finding interviews; translating legal verbiage into everyday language and testifying in court. To get a job as a forensic accountant in an accounting firm, the candidate should possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting with at least one year of accounting in forensics experience, and CPA and CFE certification.
Forensic accountants working for law firms typically act in the role of in-house consultants for all things financial. They also conduct investigative audits throughout the company and with or for potential clients. Translating the complex and technical jargon into everyday language is also something forensic accountants do. They also offer help in finding expert financial experts for testimonies. Getting a job as a forensic accountant for a law firm has much stricter requirements than with other companies. Applicants are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting; experience working in litigations; certification as a fraud examiner (CFE) and from 5-10 years of experience working with investigative audits.
Financial Consulting Firms
Working for a financial consulting firm as a forensic accountant involves analyzing financial records and digital information; investigating corruption, regulatory scrutiny and fraud; dealing with embezzlement allegations; accessing the company’s vulnerability to fraud; and conducting interviews. Although the requirements for working in a financial consulting firm as a forensic accountant are not as rigid as working for other agencies, the applicant should still have an accounting bachelor’s degree and some experience in this field. The accountant should also possess advanced skills working in Microsoft Excel and similar spreadsheets. The candidate should also be a licensed CPA or qualify for CPA licensure.
According to a report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, organizations worldwide lose about 5% of their annual revenue due to fraud. With so many jobs available in forensic accounting, an accountant working in this capacity is in the position to solve the crimes, keep businesses thriving and experience a rewarding career.