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.

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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.

Related: What Is Forensic Accounting? Definition, Uses and Career Description

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

  • 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

Related: 18 of the Best Cities for Accountants (Plus Average Salaries)

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

  • Insurance

  • Automotive

  • 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.

Related: Top 8 Accounting Certifications to Enhance Your Career

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.

Related: How To Secure a Job in Accounting With No Experience

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.

Related: Should I Get a Master's in Accounting? (With FAQs)

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:

  1. Earn a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting. 

  2. Take and pass the CPA exam.

  3. Obtain your certified public accountant license.

  4. Apply for entry-level forensic accounting positions.

  5. 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.

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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:

1. Fraud investigator

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

2. Credit analyst

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.

Related: How To Become a Certified Credit Analyst (With Certification Options)

3. Auditor

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.

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