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Forensic Accountant

Career Overview

This job has good potential in either the civil or criminal side of the court docket. A forensic accountant is a trained accountant who engages in gathering evidence related to a legal dispute. The skills require not only an understanding of accounting and auditing practices, but also a grasp of banking laws and standards.

Many of the criminal cases that require forensic accounting involve fraud and/or money laundering. A forensic accountant in a criminal justice commission is charged with tracing the movement of funds, movement which often includes false identities and foreign banking regulations. Forensic accountants often work closely with law enforcement offices, employing criminal investigative techniques to develop a case.

Required Education

A bachelors degree in accounting is usually required for a forensic accounting position. Certification as a CPA is also of value, because forensic accountants are often called as expert witnesses in both civil and criminal suits. Some employers now require an MBA for forensic accounting work.


In 2007 there were 1.3 million accountants working in the United States. A substantial portion of those worked for various government agencies including the IRS, where forensic accounting is important; however the number of forensic accountants is not available.

Job Outlook

There will be a rapid increase in the number of forensic accountants and auditors employed in the next few years as business and banking regulations tighten. White collar crime is also on the rise and the methods of stealing have become more complex.

Salary Range

Hourly Annual

Lowest 10%  $17.10  $35.570
Median Salary  $27.43  $57,060
Highest 10%  $47.22  $98,220

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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