Hot Career: Forensic Accounting

Forensic Accounting is not new to the job world. Forensic accounting is what helped Elliot Ness put Al Capone behind bars for tax fraud. The increasing amount of white collar crimes of embezzlement, securities fraud, banking and investment misappropriations, organized crime activities, and ponzi schemes have caused the increase in stricter accounting governmental regulations. With the increase in regulations, comes the increase in demand for applicants with strong knowledge of accounting procedures and financial experience coupled with strong analytic and investigative skills to enter the career field of forensic accounting continues to grow.

What is Forensic Accounting?

Forensic accounting uses legal, technology, and investigative accounting and auditing techniques to either prevent or expose financial fraud and illegal practices. Forensic accountants work with government agencies such as local law enforcement, FBI, and the Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. These government supported forensic accountants investigate everything from money laundering and identity-theft-related fraud to arson for profit and tax evasion. Businesses, law firms, insurance companies, financial and other organizations also use the services of forensic accountants to expose or prevent internal fraud. These specialized forensic accountants may be involved in investigations in divorces, bankruptcy, and regulations accountability. Due to the nature of the work, forensic accountants are often called upon as expert witnesses. They also may work with professional organizations to develop auditing procedures and regulations, act as advisors to audit committees and assist in investment analyst research.


Most forensic accountants have a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a CPA designation, and many have additional academic preparation in fields like criminal justice or law enforcement. Many colleges and universities now offer a graduate degree in Forensic Accounting.


Forensic accountants can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 a year in an entry-level position in the forensic accounting field. With experience, forensic accountants could see an annual salary of six figures.

Job Outlook

2008-09 Occupational Outlook Handbook: Increased focus on and numbers of financial crimes such as embezzlement, bribery, and securities fraud will increase the demand for forensic accountants to detect illegal financial activity by individuals, companies, and organized crime rings.

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