How do I Become a Forensic Accountant?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2019
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In order to become a forensic accountant, a candidate will need to obtain an accounting degree, along with special certification in forensic accounting or fraud examination. The more credentials someone obtains, the more money he or she will be able to demand for services, and the more credibility he or she will be given in a court of law. Because forensic accountants focus on examining accounting practices for the purpose of testifying in court or helping to build a legal case, many pursue as many certifications as possible to make themselves into very trustworthy authorities.

Forensic accounting is a branch of the accounting field which focuses on the examination of accounting practices and records to determine whether or not illegal activities such as fraud have occurred. Forensic accountants can be called in when a company is audited, when law enforcement officials suspect that someone is involved in illegal activity, or when a lawyer wants someone to testify in court about an accounting-related matter as an expert witness.

The first step in becoming a forensic accountant is receiving an accounting degree from a college which offers such degrees, and sitting for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. Once someone becomes a CPA, he or she can enter accounting practice, which can provide valuable real-world experience, but additional coursework is usually required to become a forensic accountant.


One option is to take classes which will result in a forensic accounting degree. It is also possible to become a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), an individual who has received specialized training which helps him or her detect signs of fraud an illegal activities. Several colleges offer fraud certification and forensic accounting training, and some have Master's degrees in forensic accounting available for people who want to become highly skilled.

After someone has received the necessary training, it is beneficial to join a professional organization of forensic accountants. Belonging to a professional organization increases credibility, and also provides access to workshops, publications, and other materials which will help someone keep up with the field. Many forensic accounts also belong to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a worldwide organization which promotes excellent and integrity in fraud examination.

Even with qualifications, it helps to have real practice. Working under an experienced forensic accountant is an excellent idea in the beginning, as it will provide many training opportunities along with real-world exposure to fraudulent accounting practices. It also helps to practice as a regular accountant, because this helps a forensic accountant keep up accounting skills and keep track of changes in legislation and policy which pertain to accounting.


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In India, professionals are named as Certified Forensic Accounting Professionals.

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