Forensic auditors, also referred to as forensic accountants, are responsible for performing investigative research into past financial transactions for the purpose of supporting or disproving legal disputes and litigations. Students enrolled in forensic accounting programs, some of which are available online, learn the skills and knowledge necessary to perform in-depth investigations into past financial transactions. They learn how to recognize and analyze the movement of money between parties, detect embezzlements, investigate bankruptcies and more. Before completing a master's degree program, it is necessary for students to have a bachelor's degree in a related field and all accountants and auditors are required to hold a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) degree.
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Master's Degree Programs in Forensic Accounting or Forensic Auditing
Courses in a master's degree program in forensic auditing cover both the foundations of accounting and criminal justice. Students must learn how to apply their knowledge of accounting systems to legal cases. Some courses that provide relevant information in these areas include:
- Advanced accounting
- Internal and external fraud investigation
- Asset protection
- Criminal law
- Securities fraud
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a master's degree program in forensic auditing or accounting can go on to use their skills in private or government firms. Auditors are often called upon to be witnesses in trials and depositions, and a master's degree program should cover the legal system well enough to enable them to do so.
Forensic accounting is a quickly growing aspect of the accounting field. Most major accounting firms have their own forensic accounting or auditing branches, and many large corporations keep forensic accountants on retainer. There are subcategories of the field, resulting in many career options for graduates of a master's degree program in forensic accounting. These categories include:
- Insurance claim forensic accountant
- Personal claim forensic accountant
- Tax fraud forensic accountant
- Professional negligence claim forensic accountant
- Royalty dispute forensic accountant
- Money laundering forensic accountant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for accountants and auditors, including forensic auditors, are expected to increase by 11% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is due to business globalization and a growing overall economy, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $67,190 as of May 2014, per the BLS.
Certification is not typically required for forensic auditors. However, some organizations, such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants, do offer optional certificates in the field. These can provide professionals with a working knowledge of forensic auditing with credentials.
There are a number of prerequisites for those looking to complete a forensic auditing degree program, namely that students must first have completed a bachelor's degree. Further certification is offered by a number of institutions on a voluntary basis.