An Associate of Applied Science in Forensic Accounting degree program prepares students to work with financial data to investigate crimes, identify white-collar criminals and prevent financial wrongdoing by setting up secure accounting and auditing systems. These 2-year programs are often offered in a community college's department of criminal justice or business. To enter into an associate degree program, students must have a high school diploma or its GED equivalent.
Associate Degree in Forensic Accounting
In these programs, students take a mix of business, criminal justice and accounting courses. Students learn about the legal principles of fraud and the process for identifying patterns of fraud. Common courses include:
- Principles of finance
- Organizational audit procedures
- Fraud examination
- White collar fraud
- Legal Elements of Fraud
- Asset Recovery
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals often must have a bachelor's degree in accounting to work as an accountant, but with a bachelor's degree and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, individuals could qualify for a variety of careers (www.bls.gov). Popular careers include:
- Internal fraud examiner
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Accountants and auditors in general earned an annual median salary of $70,500 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment opportunities for these professionals were expected to increase as fast as average rate of 6% from 2018-2028, the BLS predicted.
Continuing Education and Professional Certification
Students can pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting at a 4-year university and often can transfer the credits from an associate degree to the 4-year bachelor's degree program. These degree programs, commonly offered as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting, are often found in a school of business. Another possibility is a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a concentration in forensic accounting.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) offers the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential to individuals who qualify. First, individuals must join as an associate member, and then they must submit a CFE exam application, academic transcripts and a recommendation form. That certification is valid until an individual allows their membership in ACFE to lapse.
Students interested in forensic accounting may obtain an associate degree in this field through a college's business or criminal justice program. This is a stepping stone to obtaining a bachelor's degree in forensic accounting.