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Is a Masters Degree in Forensic Accounting Worth the Investment

Forensic Accounting is a new sub-specialty of accounting that integrates auditing, accounting, and investigative skills to provide an accounting that holds up as expert evidence in court disputes. As a forensic accountant, your accounting and financial skills will be used to carry out forensic investigations examining financial records to be presented in a court of law. Forensic accountants must merge an understanding of accounting with legal investigative skills and knowledge of court proceedings and the ability to provide documentation and analysis of financial matters that stand up as expert evidence in legal proceedings.

Due to the highly specialized nature of forensic accounting, entry- level requirements begin with a Bachelor’s degree. However, once you have obtained your basic certification for accounting, it is recommended that you obtain a masters degree in Accounting that includes specialized courses and experience in forensic investigation, analysis, and reporting. Certification in forensic accounting requires additional hours of study in subjects including bankruptcy and solvency, family law, fraud prevention, economic damage calculations, computer forensic financial analysis, valuations and calculations. The added investment of time, commitment, and money to obtain a traditional masters in accounting is not taken lightly. Adding an even bigger investment to a masters degree in Accounting that offers the courses needed to qualify, as a Forensic accountant is one that is a concern for individuals interested in specializing in this exciting accounting career option. Special designation as a Certified Fraud Examiner or official recognition as being certified in Forensic Finances requires an investment to meet extra requirements, as well as the expense of taking certification exams and staying current through continuing education. Rather than considering the completion of a masters degree in accounting as the final step in becoming a forensic accountant, you would do better to consider it one-step towards that specialization process.

A masters in accounting provides the basic accounting knowledge all financial consultants and accountants need for traditional accounting roles. Yet, a forensic accountant must not only be an expert in accounting, but also have in-depth knowledge of legal aspects including laws, courtroom procedure, and dispute resolution. While many masters in accounting programs are beginning to offer courses in fraud identification, and other subjects associated with forensic accounting, it is imperative that you research the forensic courses offered and verify that the program has met credentialing standards. You do not want to invest extra time and financial resources into masters of accounting programs that will not meet eligibility requirements for CFF or CFE recognition. You can contact the American Institute of CPA’s for full information concerning CFF credential requirements and compare the programs listing for the masters of accounting programs you investigate prior to seeking admission. As with most professional courses of study, some masters of accounting programs focus on general preparation requirements while others may include a focus on specialized areas.

The cost of a masters in forensic accounting can be a factor for many individuals. While a masters in accounting online is a good option to keeping the cost of a masters degree lower, it is not recommended for most individuals seeking a forensic accounting degree. A masters in accounting online does not allow for face-to-face experience in courtroom proceedings, communications, or interactions with lawyers and others involved in legal proceedings. It may be possible that as the demand for forensic accounting continues to grow, some schools offering masters in accounting online programs may expand to include face-to face interactions through scheduled on site lab sessions or the use of web conferences. Is the additional cost involved in a masters in Forensic Accounting worth it? Salary potential is a large consideration in career options. The following table compares the average income of a forensic accountant with the average salary of those in similar occupations. Ultimately, it is up to you to do the research, weigh the advantages, and cost against your career skills, values, and goals before making your final decision.

Average Salary of Related Accounting Jobs

Job Title

Average Yearly Salary

 

 

Internal Audit Manager

$80,000

Forensic Accountant

$73,000

Bankruptcy Analyst

$72,000

Senior Financial Auditor

$64,000

Senior Internal Auditor

$62,000

Senior Accountant

$55,000

Auditor

$51,000

Accountant

$47,000