The need for a forensic accountant in law enforcement has never been more necessary than it is now. The Feds and other federal agencies are all conducting audits and investigations that would be difficult to manage without someone who understands numbers like a pro.
This career path could lead you into some exciting fields such as crime scene analysis, where they use accounting skillsets against criminals or financial forensics, which uses math techniques relevant across many disciplines from different areas of study, including economics, business management, etc., all while helping catch those guilty parties responsible.
Forensic accountants have many responsibilities, but their main role is to “assist FBI’s, lawyers. and other law enforcement professionals in the United States in the presentation of evidence.” Forensic accountants analyze a wide range of evidence, including documents, audio recordings, video footage, and computer data.
Becoming a Forensic Accountant for the FBI: Requirements
Forensic accountants are valuable members of numerous police departments, financial firms, accounting firms, and other businesses. They require an in-depth knowledge of accounting concepts and practices, as well as excellent analytical abilities. The FBI employs forensic accountants to perform audits that involve everything from bank robberies to organized crime.
Step 1: Take the right accounting courses. Forensic accountants are typically referred to as “special agents.” Regardless of their area of focus, Special agents must take at least 21 credits in basic accounting courses like financial management and business law. Other courses that will be helpful include auditing, advanced accounting, and fraud examination.
Step 2: Get a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Generally speaking, all special agents need to hold at least a four-year college degree.
Many colleges and universities offer vast degrees in accounting, so it’s best to speak with your guidance counselor or the admission department about where you should start looking.
Step 3: Apply to the FBI
The Federal Bureau Of Investigations prides itself on being pro-diversity and accepts applications from all qualified individuals are welcomed to apply, regardless of race, sex, or religion.
You can visit the FBI website – www.fbijobs.gov – and click on “WANT TO JOIN THE FBI?” under the “Careers” section. Once you click on the application page, where you’ll create an account and submit your application.
Step 4: Take and pass a physical test. All special agents must pass a rigorous physical fitness test that includes push-ups and sit-ups, as well as a 1.5 mile run.
Consider getting a personal trainer to train you on weekends to get in the finest shape possible for this test. Discuss with your trainer how to stay in top physical shape while still making time during the week to focus on your accounting classes.
Step 5: Complete an interview. As part of your application process, you’ll be given an opportunity to meet with a friendly FBI representative, who will ask you a few questions to determine your suitability for the position.
Step 6: Undergo background checks and testing procedures. In addition to completing the qualifications listed above, you must also pass numerous examinations before being approved as an FBI agent.
These tests include drug screenings, handwriting analysis, background investigations and psychological evaluations.
Step 7: Begin your career as an FBI forensic accountant. Once you’re accepted into the program, you’ll be given extensive training that will cover everything from crime-scene investigation to undercover operations.
What is the salary for a forensic accountant for the FBI?
FBI forensic accountants are paid according to the general schedule for federal employees. As it’s known, the GS system ranges from grade 1 (the lowest) to grade 15 (the highest). Entry-level FBI special agents earn a minimum of $52,907 per year or more, depending on the grade to which they’re assigned.
Tips on Getting a Job in Forensic Accounting
Step 1: Gain employment in forensic accounting. Many forensic accountants have previous experience working for companies like Deloitte, KPMG, or PricewaterhouseCoopers. They may get their start as an auditor and work up the ranks to become a forensic accountant. However, some accountants go directly into the field without first becoming an auditor.
Step 2: Enroll in a master’s degree program for accounting. After gaining employment, you’ll need to gain experience and knowledge in core areas of accounting before specializing. This means taking advanced courses like advanced accounting, auditing, and tax planning.
Step 3: Take a few classes in forensic accounting. Courses like fraud examination, litigation support, and advanced-level financial forensics will help you learn the specific skills needed to succeed as an accountant within the industry.
Step 4: Gain certification as a CPA (certified public accountant). To achieve this, you’ll need to pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which consists of four sections:
- Accounting and reporting
- Business environments and concepts
- Auditing, attestation, and compilation
Step 5: Consider becoming a certified fraud examiner (CFE). In addition to gaining experience as an accountant, you can also take classes in this area.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners provides CFE certification. It requires 50 hours of training and two years of experience in fraud examination or related work.
Step 6: Pursue an advanced degree in forensic accounting. To advance your career and become a senior-level forensic accountant, consider earning a master’s or doctoral degree in higher education administration or business administration.
Auditor vs. Forensic Accountant
Auditors seek to provide an unbiased, third-party opinion for a company’s financial statements. The auditing process reveals that a company’s numbers don’t match generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In that case, it could be an indication of criminal activity. Forensic accountants, on the other hand, are hired by individuals or companies as consultants.
They are both professionals perform analysis on financial data, they do so with different objectives
An auditor is responsible for ensuring that financial information is accurate. An auditor reviews financial statements prepared by management to ensure the accuracy of those statements.
While an auditor may investigate fraud cases, they typically don’t perform any investigative work.
Auditors analyze financial data but don’t address issues like white-collar crime or cybercrime. Similarly, forensic accountants perform financial analysis but don’t follow GAAP standards.
A forensic accountant’s work can be used to support or dispute allegations made by businesses, attorneys, government organizations, and people.
A forensic accountant who provides false or misleading information or otherwise violates the law can be disbarred and face possible prosecution for fraud and other crimes.
A professional certification helps you stand apart from your peers and validate your expertise to current and potential employers. Attaining a CPA certification demonstrates that you’re committed to learning and that you’ve made a major investment in your career.
When other accounting and financial professionals see the CPA certification after your name, it signals that you’re well-equipped to comprehend what drives corporate performance and fuels outcomes.
A senior forensic accountant will also need to have expertise in securities, computer forensics, fraud investigation, and anti-money laundering.
Senior Forensic Accountant Salaries: How much does a senior forensic accountant make?
The US Labor Department has indicated that the average annual compensation of the forensic accountant was $92,000.
On average, in North Carolina, for example, forensic accountants make $92,134; and from New York, they make $95,540 on average.
For example, you can expect to earn an annual average of $108,473 when working as a senior forensic accountant in the district of Columbia.
The salaries given above are only meant to be used as guidelines. We always suggest that you speak to a senior forensic accountant or your human resources department for the best information on salary levels.
In Conclusion, working as a forensic accountant for the FBI in the private sector is a highly fulfilling career. If you love researching complicated financial crimes and are fascinated by intricate fraud schemes, being a forensic accountant might be the ideal career path for you.
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