How to Become a Forensic Accountant

What is a forensic accountant?
A forensic accountant is a person who can be considered a financial detective. They put together a financial timeline by shifting through account records. They can also calculate assets and also procure evidence of financial wrongdoings. Often times they will work alongside law enforcement especially when dealing with cases of insurance claims, divorces, and fraud allegations. If they determine that illegal actions have occurred, then the law can take the next step to convict the suspect. If you are interested in learning about financial crimes, then perhaps this is an ideal career path for you.
What are the educational requirements of being a forensic accountant?
In order to have a career as a forensic accountant, you will need to first fulfill all the education requirements. Those who are interested in becoming a forensic accountant should their studies on accounting. Depending on which college or university you attend, you may have the option of having a specialized degree. If you do not have that option, you should focus on a generalized bachelor’s degree in accounting. Regardless of which choice you have, you will focus your studies on certain courses such as economics, business management, and statistics.
It is also recommended that those who are interested in a career in accounting have some work experience as well. The best way to earn some experience is to enter an internship. Internships are usually done for college credits but there are some that are paid.
What else is required for me to be a forensic accountant?
Regardless of whether or not you want to be a forensic accountant or a bookkeeper, all accountants are required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In order to become a CPA, you will need to pass a national exam and also meet whatever state requirements are necessary. Generally, all states require that a CPA candidate complete at least 150 hours of college coursework (which needs to be certified). Some states do require that the candidate also have a master’s degree in accounting as well, some do not. It’s best for you to do your research on your state to see if you fulfill all the requirements to become a CPA.
What skills do I need to be a forensic accountant?
There are certain skills that you need in order to be successful as a forensic accountant. You must enjoy doing math, working with numbers, and statistics. Also you must have the ability to piece together situations with the information given. Sometimes you must investigate further and think outside the box when it comes to researching and determining if fraud has occurred in the case you are investigating. Being very analytical will allow you to identify different types of issues found in the documents you research. Having an analytical point of view also can determine if you can find solutions as well. Another important skill to have is to be detail oriented. You need to record all your findings in a meticulous manner in order to ensure little to no errors in your findings.
Sources:
1. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4
2. http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2011.01

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