As an accountant, you may want to get involved in forensic accounting to keep current in your field, learn new skills, and attract new clients to help you through seasonal slowdowns. Alternatively, this ever-evolving occupation could very well become the primary focus of your practice.
What is Forensic Accounting?
Forensic accounting is a specialized field within the accounting industry that primarily deals with financial crimes and litigation. While an internal auditor reviews policies, procedures, and transactions, a forensic accountant tracks individual cases and pursues questionable transactions from their origins to final destinations.
Forensic accountants have traditionally pursued financial crimes such as theft, embezzlement, money laundering and racketeering and transactions involving kickbacks. Advancements in technology and electronic currency, though, have opened the door to entirely new types of crimes, and the field is expanding. The forensic accountant of today must investigate additional crimes such as data skimming, security breaches and cyber theft.
How to Become a Forensic Accountant
Some colleges and universities offer graduate or postgraduate degree programs in forensic accounting, such as the two-year Master of Forensic Accounting (MFAcc) degree program offered by the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Some accounting organizations offer certificate programs, and Chartered Public Accountants Canada offers an intensive Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) credential program that requires a combination of coursework and work experience to complete.
The Average Salary of Forensic Accountants
After gaining your certification or degree, you can choose to set up your own practice, work for a company, or work for the government at either the commonwealth or the provincial level. As of 2017, the average annual salary for a government-employed forensic accountant was between $95,000 to $103,000. As the field expands with the increase in cybercrimes, forensic accounting offers terrific growth opportunities to current and future accountants.
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