Exploring the various career possibilities in the broad field of accounting often leads interested prospective professionals to find an answer to the question, “What is forensic accounting?”
Forensic Accounting Overview
Forensic accounting professionals perform a number of tasks and can have many responsibilities, but the field is primarily focused on everything from fraud examination to fraud reporting and litigation. These include auditing and internal controls as well as electronic discovery and advanced interview techniques. Forensic accountants must also have high standards of ethics and the ability to comply with all regulation and legislation in financial operations.
Some of the activities a forensic accounting will be a part of in a work day include analyzing financial statements and other data to identify potential fraud. This also requires the ability to research in order to create a map of the path of financial transactions. After an investigation has been completed, a forensic accountant will likely have to complete a report that clearly discusses the findings, recommendations, and conclusions of the case. Many forensic accountants will also prepare additional reports for litigation purposes. Some professionals in this field might also be required to give testimony in court.
To begin to prepare for a profession in forensic accounting, the majority of candidates will need a bachelor’s degree. Many programs at the undergraduate level include a traditional accounting degree program with a concentration in forensic accounting. Students gain skills and knowledge in accounting, financial operations, management, and other important aspects of general types of operations. Some common courses include auditing and forensic accounting, interviewing techniques, computer-aided investigation, statistics, financial statement analysis, digital forensics, advanced accounting systems, and corporate governance.
Additional Important Skills and Certifications in Forensic Accounting
A high standard of ethics and the knowledge gained in a degree program are the start to beginning to qualify for many career positions after graduation. Forensic accounting professionals will also need to illustrate objectivity, maintain high levels of credibility, employ creative and critical thinking, have quick decision and problem solving skills, and be skilled with various computer applications. Additional information on forensic accounting can be found on the website for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Many forensic accountants will also complete professional certifications. The most common of these designations include the Certified Forensic Accountants, Certified in Financial Forensics, and Certified Fraud Examiners. The certifications help to advance skills in identifying potential for fraud and investigative techniques.
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Career Positions in the Forensic Accounting Field
After gaining the education and developing the skills to enter the field, there are a number of options for careers and industries for the future forensic accounting professional. These options include loss prevention, fraud investigator, accountant, internal auditor, information security, ethics officer, expert litigation witness, consultant, and forensic auditor. Forensic accountants work in law enforcement, attorney offices, and government agencies. Professionals in this field might also work in public accounting firms, consulting firms, insurance corporations, and financial institutions such as credit unions and banks.
Forensic accountants combine skills in mathematical and financial operations with investigative techniques such as interviewing to identify situations of fraud and misuse of finances. Individuals who look for what is forensic accounting find an exciting and interesting career field to put these skills to use.