There are a few educational routes aspiring financial investigators might pursue in order to train for this career, beginning with completing a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, such as financial forensics or accounting. A master's degree provides more specialized training in areas like financial investigation and fraud detection, with coursework involving topics in business law and taxation. Professional certification is likewise offered and includes the Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Public Account credentials.
Financial investigation is a field that requires the ability to interpret and analyze financial data. Professionals in this field may also be referred to as financial examiners or forensic accountants. In addition to forensic accounting duties, financial investigators may also work with lawyers to locate hidden assets. Careers in this field require a formal education in finance or accounting, and voluntary certification is available.
|Required Education||Variable; a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting, forensic accounting or financial forensics|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||11% for accountants|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$67,190 for accountants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Requirements can vary, but many employers require a bachelor's degree from a related area, such as accounting or financial forensics. Completing a master's degree program, like the Master of Science in Accounting with a concentration in forensic accounting or Master of Business Administration in Forensic Accounting, can also prepare graduates for careers in fraud detection and financial investigation.
These degree programs also provide training in cost accounting, financial reporting, auditing, taxation, business law and financial management, as well as fraud detection and investigation techniques. For students who are pursuing or already have a degree from another area, certificate programs are available that cover the same topics.
Although not required by all employers, certification is also available. The Certified Fraud Examiner credential requires at least a bachelor's degree or related professional experience. Investigators who perform forensic accounting can obtain the Certified Public Account (CPA) credential, which generally requires a bachelor's degree, as well as additional coursework after graduation.
Financial investigators can seek employment in a variety of environments, such as government offices, law firms, corporations, anti-fraud organizations and accounting firms. Certified public accountants who work in financial investigations may provide forensic accounting services for individual and business clients. Financial investigators working with law enforcement may be required to give expert testimony in court. Other duties associated with financial investigations may include analyzing financial records and researching tax law.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 11% growth in employment for accountants and auditors between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS noted that accountants with professional credentials, such as the CPA certification, would have the best opportunities for employment. The BLS also reported that growth in worldwide financial activity could increase the need for investigators in that area. In 2015, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $67,190 for accountants and auditors.
Obtaining professional certification for this career typically requires at least a bachelor's degree in an accounting-related program. Some of the industries and employers where financial investigators work include accounting and law firms, corporations, government, and anti-fraud companies. Accountants and auditors are expected to experience a favorable increase in employment between 2014-2024, according to a BLS report.