Career Profile: Forensic Accountant

Career Profile: Forensic Accountant

Like any accountant, a forensic accountant works to verify that firms run in an efficient manner, pay taxes on time, and maintain accurate records.

But unlike a normal accountant, a forensic accountant uses these financial skills to detect fraudulent criminal activity.

Forensic accountants investigate and decipher white-collar crimes like embezzlement, contract disputes and fraud.  They are experts at detecting and solving crimes like money laundering, which is a popular racket for many organized crime syndicates.

To be a forensic accountant you'll need to be highly competent in finance and accounting, and also trained in investigation and law enforcement techniques and protocols, since you'll work closely with law enforcement.

Working with both lawyers and police agencies, you'll help with case investigation and trial prosecutions, often appearing as an expert witness.

Required Training

To become a forensic accountant, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation for forensic or public accountants.  The CFE requires a bachelor's degree and two years of relevant experience. You'll also need to pass an exam and agree to abide by a code of ethics.

Besides having the right degree, you should be highly analytical and bring excellent communication skills.

Successful forensic accountants, like all accountants, are talented in math and good at synthesizing a variety of facts and figures. Forensic accountants should be able to communicate their findings clearly to shareholders and in a courtroom.

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