How Much Does a Forensic Accountant Make?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 26, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated February 26, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

Preparing for a career as a forensic accountant means completing necessary research on salary expectations within your area and other factors that could influence your pay scale. By taking the time to research the average salaries available to forensic accountants, you can better negotiate your payment terms with an employer.

In this article, we will define the job responsibilities of a forensic accountant, their average salary, job outlook, highest paying locations for forensic accountants, how to improve your salary as a forensic accountant, related career opportunities and additional questions with answers.

Related: Learn About Being an Accountant

What does a forensic accountant do?

A forensic accountant works for a law enforcement agency or a large corporation, reviewing financial data for discrepancies and identifying potentially incriminating details that could contribute to a court case. These instances of criminality can include fraud, embezzlement and money laundering.

Related: 16 Accounting Jobs That Pay Well

How much do forensic accountants make?

The average annual salary for a forensic accountant can be around $79,929 per year whereas certain federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) offer their forensic accountants salaries averaging $89,601 per year. Based on these figures, it can be estimated that forensic accountants have the potential to earn between $70,000 and $90,000 per year. That being said, salaries are always fluctuating, for updated salary information refer to salaries on Indeed.

Job outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for accountants and auditors is projected to increase by 6% by 2028. There are currently around 1,400,000 accountants and auditors working in the United States. Based on the estimated increase in the profession, there could be an additional 90,000 positions that become available by 2028. This does not include those currently employed who might reach retirement age.

Related: Chartered Accountant vs. Certified Public Accountant: What Is The Difference?

Highest forensic accountant salaries by state

The following section will review seven states (and the District of Columbia) with the highest paying salaries for forensic accountants.

  1. Texas: $72,478 per year

  2. New York: $73,550 per year

  3. Florida: $75,782 per year

  4. Indiana: $77,078 per year

  5. Pennsylvania: $78,912 per year

  6. California: $86,700 per year

  7. District of Columbia: $112, 445 per year

Related: Analytical Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to increase a forensic accountant salary

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to a forensic accountant earning a higher salary. This section will provide a few different ways a forensic accountant can increase their salary expectations.

1. Earn industry certifications

Consider earning relevant certifications and licensure before and during your career as a forensic accountant. You can earn your certified public accountant (CPA) license to increase your eligibility for career advancement opportunities. You can also focus on earning more job-specific certifications such as core forensic accounting, specialized forensic accounting and fundamentals of forensic accounting certificates that are offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

These credentials can demonstrate your passion for the industry, your expertise in accounting principles and related areas. They can also justify your claims to receive a raise.

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 you have been in the field might contribute to a gradual increase in pay within your current company. Your experience level might also be helpful in negotiating a higher salary with a new employer.

3. Consider a master's degree program

Forensic accountants are expected to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, but if you are looking to achieve a higher salary as a forensic accountant, you might want to enroll in a two-year master's degree program. By earning your master's degree, you can stand out among job competitors and you might be more eligible for administrative roles with better pay.

Related: 6 Essential Accounting Skills

Related jobs list

The following section will review a few career options that have similarities to forensic accounting as well as their job responsibilities and salary expectations.

1. Fraud investigator

National average salary: $19.11 per hour

Primary duties: A fraud investigator works as part of law enforcement, government agencies or in finance companies to identify instances of fraud within a company or made by an individual. They collect evidence of fraud, write reports and present their findings in a court setting.

2. Credit analyst

National average salary: $57,277 per year

Primary duties: A credit analyst works for investment companies, banks or insurance agencies. They are responsible for reviewing a loan applicant's credit score to determine whether or not they are consistent in paying their creditors back. They might also review a loan applicant's current source of funds and whether their current income will allow them to pay back the loan in the future.

3. Auditor

National average salary: $64,424 per year

Primary duties: Auditors are responsible for reviewing a company's financial data and checking the company's financial documents for accuracy. This is done to make sure that a company's taxes are being paid correctly, and that the company doesn't have any unaccounted revenue that isn't being taxed.

FAQ

The following section will address additional questions about the forensic accounting profession and what it takes to pursue this career.

1. What skills do you need to be a forensic accountant?

There are a variety of hard (technical) skills and soft (interpersonal) skills that are needed for a forensic accountant to complete their daily job responsibilities.

  • Written and oral communication: Forensic accountants might have to coordinate with other industry professionals on particular cases and write reports on discrepancies they find in a company or individual's financial documents. Therefore, they should be able to write and speak effectively.

  • Public speaking: A forensic accountant might be asked to testify in court and relay incriminating evidence of fraud or other finance-related offenses.

  • Attention to detail: A forensic accountant should be very detail-oriented as this skill can help them identify patterns within financial records and further identify discrepancies within someone's finances. Being attentive to detail could determine whether or not a company or individual is rightfully prosecuted for financial misconduct.

  • Analytical thinking: A large portion of a forensic accountant's job might entail interpreting data found in financial records to determine whether or not a company or individual has participated in criminal activity. Therefore, being able to think analytically can be seen as a valuable skill for this profession.

2. How do you become a forensic accountant?

To become a forensic accountant, you must first earn a four-year bachelor's degree in accounting. After graduating, you should take the (CPA) exam to earn your certified public accountant license. Then you can apply for entry-level forensic accounting positions and gain valuable work experience to achieve career advancement opportunities.

3. Will technology hurt the job prospects of forensic accountants?

Although advances in technology might lead to an increase in its presence within the profession, it most likely will be used to help forensic accountants complete their daily responsibilities. According to the (BLS), much of an accountant's job duties will still require human action, and technology will only help improve their efficiency.

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