Why choose a forensic accounting career
If forensic accounting is the career you’d like to consider, there are some details you should think about before choosing this professional path. It’s vital to know what sort of forensic accounting job you would like to have and think about the steps and strategies you’ll need to take to get there. A bachelor of arts (B.A.) in forensic accounting can be an excellent starting point.
Earning a B.A. widens your professional perspectives in the forensic accounting field and grants you excellent opportunities. Whether you plan to become an auditor, a financial accounting specialist, an expert in charge of checking financial regulation compliance and investigating embezzlement, this degree is essential. Before signing your application forms, make sure that you assess all your choices to ensure that earning a B.A. in forensic accounting is what you need.
Choosing a degree in forensic accounting is easy
Forensic accounting is one of the most prominent specializations in the accounting field. When deciding on a degree, there are numerous details you should take into consideration. First, consider the overall tuition costs. Online or hybrid courses usually are less expensive than on-campus classes. Moreover, the more prestigious the school is, the higher they charge for forensic accounting B.A. programs.
No matter what institution you choose, be mindful that it should offer accredited programs – a sign of academic excellence. If you intend to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Chief Fraud Examiner (CFE), it’s vital to earn a B.A. from an accredited institution. You can check on the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) platform to see which programs are accredited.
There are also other relevant details you should consider when you choose a B.A. in forensic accounting. From the duration of studies to the proximity of the educational institution in case you opt for on-campus courses, it’s advisable to pay attention to all relevant factors so you can make an educated decision.
Types of bachelor’s degrees in forensic accounting
Even if you have already chosen to enroll in a particular program to earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting, there are still decisions that need to be made. For instance, there are various types of B.A. degrees, each with its own particularities, and you will need to understand the specifics of each program to decide which best meets your needs. No matter what you select, you’ll still study forensic accounting basics, like fraud investigations, auditing, or statistics. Nevertheless, the programs have different curricula and may provide unparalleled career opportunities.
Bachelor of science in forensic accounting
When you choose a bachelor of science (B.S.) in forensic accounting, you’ll study both the forensic fundamentals and means to analyze and report financial issues. Plus, you’ll get the chance to dive deeper into cyber forensics, legal procedures, audit, and courses on law and financial compliance.
Bachelor of arts in forensic accounting
The main topics you will study to earn a B.A. are similar to the core ones in a bachelor of science (B.S.) program in forensic accounting. However, these courses will focus more on fraud examination methodology, prevention strategies, investigation of financial crimes, and legal procedures.
Bachelor of business administration
By choosing a bachelor of business administration (B.B.A.) program, you can start a forensic accounting career and get to know the fundamentals of how to detect and investigate fraud. You’ll study core accounting curricula, together with courses on how information technology can support financial investigations. Other areas of study cover dispute resolution, taxation, financial risks, and corporate governance. You will grow a valuable skill set in investigations, analysis, and thorough legal know-how.
Duration of studies
To earn a B.A. in forensic accounting, you’ll need to complete about 120 credits over a period of 4 years. Students who already have college experience can shorten their studies if they transfer some credit hours towards this bachelor’s degree. Usually, forensic accounting programs have unique prerequisites for enrollment, so you should rigorously analyze each program before deciding to apply.
Most universities and colleges offer full-time programs, but you can still choose from part-time or online formats with lower tuition costs. If you already work full time and flexibility is critical for you, online programs may prove to be the right choice. This way, you can customize your studies and include them conveniently into your daily routine.
The tuition costs of a bachelor of forensic accounting program depend on the institution you choose, the format you decide to enroll in, and the state where you want to study. The National Center for Education Statistics provides an overview of the average annual college costs. In 2017-18, for 4-year institutions, the expenses aggregated $27,357, with an average of $20,050 in public colleges and $43,139 in private or for-profit institutions.
If you have already decided on which bachelor of forensic accounting program you want to enroll in, the next logical step would be to review the admission requirements. Each institution has its entry requirements for a bachelor’s program in forensic accounting. A high-school diploma, a good GED test result, or an associate degree are usually common prerequisites.
As a rule of thumb, the more prestigious an institution is, the higher are its admission requirements. First, you should have excellent Grade Point Average (GPA) results – at least 2.5 for most institutions or even 3.5 for the more prominent schools. This can be supplemented by very good college admission scores. Other requirements may include letters of recommendation, admission essays or tests, and application fees.
Coursework in forensic accounting B.A. programs
Most bachelor of forensic accounting programs focus on a specialized curriculum, with courses covering a wide range of topics. You will study, for instance:
Before diving deeper into forensic accounting, this course builds a solid foundation in accounting skills – revolving around topics such as accounting methods, public accounting, managerial accounting, and financial accounting.
You’ll get the chance to study generic economic principles that will help forensic accountants analyze financial situations and run audits.
This course reviews various types of fraud and instructs forensic accountants on how to detect and prevent fraud. You’ll learn more about fraud examination and how to gather evidence, examine documents, and interview witnesses.
You’ll learn the basic auditing rules and procedures, focusing on strong business ethics, monetary regulations, and best practices in the financial field.
Through this course, you’ll know how to review forensic documentation to detect and prevent financial misconduct, fraud, and embezzlement.
This course highlights state and national taxation laws and regulations and shows how these practices reflect in the business conduct of various companies and organizations.
By completing this course, you’ll develop several techniques to analyze data gathered from electronic devices that will help you move forward with complex financial investigations.
Enhance your forensic accounting education
After earning your B.A in forensic accounting, you can broaden your career opportunities by enrolling in a master’s (M.A.) program. Thus, you can become a forensic accounting expert and access more complex business roles.
Many organizations want to recruit experienced employees who have earned an M.A. degree and can prove in-depth financial knowledge. Alternatively, you may want to take a step further and get accounting certifications.
Certified Public Accountant
To get a CPA certification, you should successfully pass an exam held by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Once you are a certified public accountant, you should work for 2 or more years in a forensic accounting role before getting the chance to become a Certified Forensic Accountant (CRFAC).
Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
A CFE certification can bring you excellent job opportunities. First, you would have to become a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) to earn this credential. You’d also need to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or forensic accounting and at least 2 years of experience in related fields such as fraud detection, financial misconduct, auditing, or criminology.
Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
You can get CIA certification if you pass the Institute of Internal Auditors of North America (IIA) exam. By earning this credential, you can access new roles as an internal auditor. To enter the exam, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or forensic accounting and relevant professional experience in the field.
Career options with a B.A. in forensic accounting
With a bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting, you can opt for different career opportunities, ranging from forensic accountant to financial examiner, financial analyst, and internal or external auditor. You can also choose if you’d like to join public or private organizations such as law companies, accounting firms, corporations, or government departments and agencies.
In 2019, auditors and accountants earned, on average, $71,550 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Financial analysts earned $81,550 as median pay, while financial managers could earn up to $129,890. Your annual compensation and benefits may vary significantly depending on your education, certifications, professional experience, and the employer you choose. Here are some career options you may want to follow.