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Forensic Accountant Salary & Career Outlook

Those who want to have a rewarding career often look at several different things to determine whether that career will be a good option. They will want to know the salary, the type of work they will be doing, as well as whether it is going to be a viable career option with good opportunities. The forensic accounting job description shows potential candidates that it really does have plenty to offer in all of those areas.

A forensic accountant is a certified public accountant. They will be able to examine financial records and accounts that could then be useful as evidence. Often, they will work in areas where they can help to prove or disprove insurance claims and personal injury claims. They can work to help resolve business disputes, divorces, and fraud cases. In some instances, the accountant may be able to help with criminal cases as well. Accountants who work within this specialty can also testify in court as experts.

The Career Outlook for Forensic Accountants

Those who are on the path to become accountants will find that the outlook for growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010 to 2020 projection is 16 percent. Currently, there are 1.2 million accountant jobs, and the projected growth could add an additional 190,700 to the field, bringing the total to 1.4 million.

Forensic accounting is a sub-specialty of accounting and will likely have fewer job openings. However, because accounting is still a solid field, it is possible to get a job as a CPA and then to continue looking for a career as a forensic accountant. The BLS predicts that the demand for accountants is going to continue to grow in the coming years. The increased instances of fraud and computer crimes are helping to drive the need for these types of accountants up.

NAFA, the National Association of Forensic Accountants, offers training and certification for those who are entering the field. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, ACFE, offers help for those who are looking at the various career paths they can take. Both organizations understand that with better training comes a better job opportunity, especially in a field that is highly competitive.

Forensic Accounting Salary

The median wage for those who are accountants is $61,690, according to BLS data from 2010. It is important to remember that this is merely the median wage, and that other factors are going to play roles in the salary that an accountant is going to receive. Those who are in the lowest 10 percent of accountants may make around $48,940 annually, while the top 10 percent of earners are making more than $106,000 a year.

However, other things factor into the forensic accounting salary. These include the amount of experience the accountant has in forensic accounting, the geographic location, and where the individual works.

Job Requirements – Education & Experience

Those individuals who want to become forensic accountants need to have a degree. Most of the positions for accounting require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. However, many prospects will go on to earn high-level degrees to increase the chance of getting the job that he or she wants to have. Some universities are able to offer specialized accounting degrees as well, such as those that focus on internal audits for a company. Most of those who are in the field of forensic accounting will have a bachelor’s degree, and they will have worked as an accountant for two years before they dive into forensic accounting.

Forensic accountants need to have certain skills that they bring to the job. This includes the ability to think analytically and to pay great attention to all of the details. Math skills, and an actual enjoyment of math, are important as well. The accountant should be highly organized as well.

Licensure and Certification for Accounting

While it might not be a requirement, most people that choose to follow a path to accounting and eventually forensic accounting are going to want to become CPAs, or certified public accountants. Those who have to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission will need to have certification. Often, one will need to have a certain amount of time in the field in order to apply for certification. Those who have more certifications are going to look like better candidates to employers.

Accountants can find a number of certifications from organizations such as the Institute of Internal Auditors, and the ISACA.

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