Forensic and Fraud Jobs – An Overview
Published: 28 Feb 2013 By CareersinAudit
If you are looking for finance and accounting jobs, and you want to try other options, you may want to look into forensic and fraud jobs. These are just two types of jobs that fall under the category of accounting and auditing. By knowing more about forensic and fraud jobs, you will be able to take advantage of job openings in both positions, which you may consider as a long-term career or as a stepping stone to other auditing and accounting jobs.
What is Forensic Accounting?
Forensic accounting is a special branch of accounting that focuses on auditing, investigating, and evaluating the accuracy of financial reporting documents. This kind of work is often necessary for cases facing impending or ongoing legal action. The responsibility of a forensic accountant, therefore, is to check for questionable data and investigate it to prevent occurrences of white collar crimes. Due to the nature of their work, forensic accountants may work in small and medium sized businesses, large corporations, banks, for individuals, and as an employee of a government or law enforcement agency. Due to recent regulation changes, forensic accountants are now facing high demand, so there are lots of career choices for those who are interested.
The line of work of a forensic accountant or a fraud examiner, as this position is sometimes called, may sometimes overlap that of the risk manager. The forensic accountant may assist in risk management and risk reduction by providing advice on financial transactions, such as planned mergers, acquisitions, capital investments, corporate bonds or stocks purchase, and so on. They are also usually involved in bankruptcy proceedings.
In the course of their work, they may uncover some criminal activities such as fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, concealed assets, concealed debt, and other financial crimes and fraudulent activities. In case legal proceedings occur, the forensic accountant may be asked to appear or to testify in court as expert witnesses.
To be able to do their job completely and skillfully, forensic accountants need to be well acquainted with all types of financial documents, including the balance sheet, the income statement, the statement of retained earnings, and the statement of cash flows.
The more experience a forensic account gains, the more value they will be able to provide to their employers, and the faster they will progress through the usual career path of a forensic accounting professional. The usual job positions that a forensic and fraud job specialist may fill include:
- Forensic accountant
- Forensic services manager
- Forensic audit manager
- Forensic auditor
- Fraud specialist
- Forensic director
- Senior auditor
- Risk assurance and risk analyst
- Audit advisory
Education and Certifications
If you are interested in working as a forensic accountant, you will need to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Both certifications will be necessary for an individual who wishes to specialise in forensics and fraud. The Certified Fraud Examiner certification is only given to specialists that have received extensive training in preventing and deterring fraud. The certification will require the individual to pass an examination of 500 questions which covers a variety of topics, including:
- Financial transactions
- The legal aspects of fraud
- Fraud examination
- Fraud investigation techniques
As required by the nature of their work, forensic accountants should also maintain a high moral character and high professional standards. These, along with academic achievements, will be taken into consideration before an individual is given a CFE certification.
As for the educational requirements, the most basic of all is a bachelor’s degree in any field, as long as the curriculum includes at least 24 credit hours from accounting classes. A forensic accountant is not required to have a master’s degree, but having one can open up more job opportunities, may provide an advantage over competitors, and may bring about a faster advancement in one’s career. This master’s degree, however, should be a business or financial related course.
The work of a forensic accountant can be fascinating, not to mention adequately rewarding and compensated. Entry level forensic accountants earn anywhere between US$30,000 and US$60,000 per year, while more veteran professionals can earn up to $150,000 plus. Before you decide to enter the forensic accounting field, you should be determined to stick it out for the long haul. More often than not, the salary of a forensic accountant depends heavily on his or her experience or the number of years they have spent in the profession.
Other factors that may influence the salary of a forensic accountant are the size of the business and the location. As expected, the salary of a forensic accountant working in a major city will be different from the salary of a forensic accountant working in a rural area.
The good news, however, is that even individuals with no prior background in finance can serve as forensic accountants or fraud examiners, as long as they are involved in related fields, such as legal services and law enforcement.
Forensic accountants are expected to face continuous demand as employee and management fraud and theft has become very common. The growth in forensic audit vacancies can also be attributed to the high profile corporate financial scandals that have occurred in several companies in recent years.
Four years ago, fraud job specialists and forensic auditors earned up to $60,000 on average. The top ten percent in the group, however, can earn more than $100,000 per annum.
If you’ve had enough experience working as a regular accountant or internal auditor, it helps to consider other related job positions. Forensic accountant and fraud examiner jobs just so happen to be some of the most fascinating in the accounting industry.