How Much Does a Forensic Accountant Make? (With FAQs)
Updated May 30, 2023
Preparing for a career as a forensic accountant can mean researching salary expectations in your area and other factors that may influence your earnings. You may find a lucrative career in this field by advancing your education and skills, such as data analysis. Understanding the average salaries available for this role may help you negotiate compensation with an employer.
In this article, we discuss how much a forensic accountant makes, including helpful information about the earnings by state and highest-paying cities with helpful frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the position and related careers you may consider.
What does a forensic accountant do?
A forensic accountant works for law enforcement agencies or large corporations, like insurance companies, to review financial data for discrepancies and identify potentially incriminating details that may contribute to a court case. These instances of criminality can include fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.
Read more: Learn About Being a Forensic Accountant
How much do forensic accountants make?
The national average salary for a forensic accountant is $79,753 per year, whereas federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), offer their forensic accountants salaries averaging $69,977 per year. Based on these figures, you can estimate forensic accountants have the potential to earn between $70,000 and $90,000 per year. Additionally, your potential earnings can vary based on experience, education, location, skills and employer.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.
Job outlook for forensic accountants
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects accountants and auditors to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. This average is about as fast as other accusations in the nation. Additionally, there might be about 136,400 job opportunities annually.
Salaries by state for forensic accountants
Here are the salaries for a forensic accountant for each state, including the District of Columbia:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
Alabama: $51,169 per year
Alaska: $79,238 per year
Arizona: $68,822 per year
Arkansas: $73,027 per year
California: $89,659 per year
Colorado: $90,743 per year
Connecticut: $66,161 per year
District of Columbia: $120,879 per year
Delaware: $55,419 per year
Florida: $79,809 per year
Georgia: $86,563 per year
Hawaii: $76,661 per year
Idaho: $72,848 per year
Illinois: $76,759 per year
Indiana: $74,688 per year
Iowa: $75,067 per year
Kansas: $69,296 per year
Kentucky: $45,079 per year
Louisiana: $74,295 per year
Maine: $76,239 per year
Maryland: $81,751 per year
Massachusetts: $91,852 per year
Michigan: $58,779 per year
Minnesota: $76,554 per year
Mississippi: $71,077 per year
Missouri: $71,265 per year
Montana: $72,236 per year
Nebraska: $75,055 per year
Nevada: $81,923 per year
New Hampshire: $76,490 per year
New Jersey: $76,557 per year
New Mexico: $75,604 per year
New York: $68,440 per year
North Carolina: $98,741 per year
North Dakota: $75,897 per year
Ohio: $84,040 per year
Oklahoma: $72,991 per year
Oregon: $79,529 per year
Pennsylvania: $73,989 per year
Rhode Island: $78,444 per year
South Carolina: $71,522 per year
South Dakota: $73,051 per year
Tennessee: $74,982 per year
Texas: $74,305 per year
Utah: $55,867 per year
Vermont: $74,829 per year
Virginia: $100,362 per year
Washington: $83,716 per year
West Virginia: $73,038 per year
Wisconsin: $76,133 per year
Wyoming: $74,410 per year
Related: How To Get an Accounting Job
Highest paying cities for forensic accountants
Here are some cities that offer lucrative salaries for forensic accountants:
Nashville, Tennessee: $74,982 per year
Chicago, Illinois: $76,759 per year
New York, New York: $77,440 per year
Atlanta, Georgia: $80,225 per year
Burbank, California: $82,665 per year
Houston, Texas: $88,642 per year
Cedar Creek, Texas: $95,592 per year
Los Angeles, California: $97,516 per year
Miami, Florida: $108,106 per year
Industries for forensic accountants
Here are common industries where you may earn a lucrative salary as a forensic accountant:
Finance and financial institutions, like public accounting firms
Government, such as law enforcement agencies
Public and private companies, including consulting firms
Tips for increasing your forensic accountant salary
Here are a few tips that may help you boost your potential earnings in this position:
1. Earn industry certifications
Consider earning relevant certifications and licensure before and during your career. You can obtain your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license to increase your eligibility for career advancement opportunities. You may also focus on earning more job-specific certifications such as core forensic accounting, specialized forensic accounting and fundamentals of forensic accounting certificates offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Additionally, you may consider earning your Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) certification from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
These credentials can demonstrate your passion for the industry and your expertise in accounting principles and related areas. They can also justify your claims to receive a raise.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
2. Gain valuable work experience
As you devote more time to the finance industry and forensic accounting, your experience paired with the number of years in the field might contribute to a gradual increase in pay within your current company. Your experience level might also help negotiate a higher salary with a new employer.
3. Consider a master's degree program
Many employers require forensic accountants to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. If you're seeking a higher salary as a forensic accountant, you might consider enrolling in a two-year master's degree program. By earning your master's degree, you differentiate yourself from job competitors, and you might be more eligible for administrative roles with better pay.
Frequently asked questions
What are the skills of a forensic accountant?
Various technical and soft skills for forensic accountants help them complete their daily responsibilities successfully. Here are a few examples:
Ethical accounting practices: It's vital for forensic accountants to use ethical accounting skills because they're working with potentially fraudulent situations. Developing honest and straightforward relationships can help, including not working with conflict of interest or using a personal bias in their work.
Auditing and business analysis: Individuals in this role use their auditing and business analysis to review financial documents from various businesses. Understanding how to conduct this process can help them find financial crimes or other unethical behavior.
Data analysis: In this role, it's crucial to understand how to apply data analysis, including knowing how to transform data and use a SQL or related server. Data allows these specialists to make informed decisions, including learning how to reduce financial risks.
Attention to detail: Generally, forensic accountants are detail-oriented because it can help them identify patterns within financial records and further identify discrepancies within someone's finances. Attentive to detail can determine whether someone rightfully prosecuted a company or individual for financial misconduct.
Analytical thinking: A large portion of a forensic accountant's job might entail interpreting data, using analytical thinking, found in financial records to determine whether or not a company or individual has participated in criminal activity.
Public speaking: A forensic accountant might be asked to testify in court as an expert witness and relay incriminating evidence of fraud or other finance-related offenses. Expressing their message clearly and concisely can help with a case.
Communication: Forensic accountants might coordinate with other industry specialists on particular cases and write reports on discrepancies in a company or individual's financial documents. This means it's essential for them to write and speak effectively.
How do you become a forensic accountant?
Here are a few general steps on how to become a forensic accountant:
Earn a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting.
Take and pass the CPA exam.
Obtain your certified public accountant license.
Apply for entry-level forensic accounting positions.
Gain valuable work experience to achieve career advancement opportunities.
Can technology hurt the job prospects of forensic accountants?
Although technology advancements might increase its presence within the occupation, individuals may use them to help forensic accountants complete their daily responsibilities. According to the BLS, much of an accountant's job duties require human action, and technology can help improve their efficiency.
Related jobs list
If you want to pursue a role aside from forensic accounting, here are a few positions that use similar skill sets and knowledge:
National average salary: $57,058 per year
Primary duties: A fraud investigator works as part of law enforcement, government agencies or finance companies to identify fraud within an organization or by an individual. They collect evidence of fraud, write reports and present their findings in a court setting. Fraud investigators can also collaborate with other specialists, like defense attorneys, to share evidence and updates about a case.
Related: How to Become a Fraud Investigator
National average salary: $59,544 per year
Primary duties: A credit analyst works for investment companies, banks or insurance agencies. They review a loan applicant's credit score to determine whether they're consistent in paying their creditors back. Credit analysts might also investigate a loan applicant's current source of funds and whether their current income allows them to repay a loan in the future.
National average salary: $92,985 per year
Primary duties: An auditor reviews a company's financial data and checks the company's financial documents for accuracy. This is done to ensure a company is paying its taxes and has no unaccounted revenue not being taxed. Other primary tasks include examining company accounts and financial systems, checking on assets to ensure their protection and identifying financial risks in an organization.
Explore more articles
- 27 Jobs That Pay $1,000 a Week Without a Degree
- 20 Computer Scientist Degree Jobs That Pay Well
- What's The Best Times to Apply for Jobs?
- How To Get a Job on an Oil Rig in 8 Steps (With Skills)
- 12 Fast Typing Jobs To Consider
- 26 In-Demand Jobs You Can Do From Home or Remote Sites
- 16 Jobs in Developmental Psychology (With Salaries and Duties)
- How To Change From a Nurse to Teacher (Careers and Skills)
- How To Become a Body Piercer
- 50 Ideas on How to Work From Home
- Part-Time vs. Full-Time Jobs: Key Differences To Know
- 20 In-Demand Science Degrees Worth Pursuing for 2023