Is Forensic Accounting a Law Enforcement Job?

When we hear the term “forensic”, we often think of crimes, which have many wondering if forensic accounting is a law enforcement job. Forensic accounting very well can be a law enforcement job because it involves investigating money and fraud, determining where a crime was committed and providing expert witness testimony in court. Forensic accounting may also be a field that’s widely used by large businesses. It’s a very versatile and challenging field. Here is an overview of forensic accounting.

Related resource: Top 10 Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs

What is a Forensic Accountant?

A forensic accountant is an accountant who uses his or her auditing and accounting skills to determine if a crime has been committed. They’re involved in all parts of an accounting investigation from the first investigation right until the time it actually goes into court. Forensic accounting consists of two areas: investigation and litigation support. The forensic accountant first investigates to determine if a crime, such as fraud or embezzlement, has occurred. If they determine a crime was committed, they research to find where the money went and start litigation, which involves finding a way to settle the matter outside of court. If the case does go to court, the forensic accountant will act as an expert witness and testify.

How to Become One

Accountants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or business administration. Forensic accountants are usually required to be CPAs (certified public accountants), and to be a CPA requires completing an additional 30 graduate credits.

They also must pass a 4-part CPA exam. Many colleges offer a 5-year MBA combined program that offers the student both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

A common degree program for aspiring forensic accountants is a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting with a concentration in forensics. In addition to earning the CPA credential, a forensic accountant may also obtain the Certified Forensic Accountant or Certified Fraud Examiner credentials. These credentials can be obtained by passing exams and having sufficient work experience. A forensic accountant must have a thorough understanding of financial statements, computer technology, and various accounting techniques.

Possible Jobs for Forensic Accountants

Although forensic accounting may be a law enforcement job, it is also a field that offers career opportunities in large corporations, healthcare industry, and hedge fund firms. Forensic accountants may also find very lucrative careers working for the FBI. Almost anywhere a monetary crime can be committed, a forensic accountant may be found hard at work. Forensic accountants may find the following types of jobs.

• Forensic accountant

• Forensic auditor

• Special agent

• Forensic Psychologist

• Forensic Accounting Manager


Career Outlook

Forensic accountants, which fall in the category of accountants and auditors, are expected to see a job growth of 10% between 2016 and 2026 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Forensic Accountants earned an average annual wage of $65,714 with wages ranging from $45,220 to $108,237 according to a November 2018 PayScale report. Factors that can affect wages are skills, experience, degree level, employer and location.

Although forensic accountants may find careers in many industries, they continue to be in demand in large corporations due to the increase in white collar crimes. Because of the excellent investigative skills possessed by forensic accountants, knowledge of forensic accounting can be a real bonus for a candidate looking for a law enforcement job.