Forensic Accountants and Auditors
About 1.4 million accountants and auditors (including those who specialize in forensic accounting and auditing) are employed in the United States. Forensic accountants and auditors usually work for accounting companies that provide litigation support for insurance companies, law firms, and other parties involved in litigation. Others are employed by government agencies and colleges and universities.
Most people spend several years working as accountants before specializing in forensic accounting. Their first hurdle after college is to find employment as an accountant. College professors and career placement counselors can help accounting majors arrange interviews with respected accounting firms and government agencies. Students also can contact these firms and agencies directly to learn about job opportunities. Many accounting firms and government positions are advertised in newspapers and on the Internet.
In general, accounting firms tend to offer better starting salaries than government agencies. Larger firms also sometimes have entire departments dedicated to litigation support services. New graduates who secure positions with these firms might have opportunities to learn the forensic ropes while gaining experience as accountants. With time, after earning a C.P.A. and gaining experience, an accountant within a large firm may have an opportunity to specialize in litigation support and forensic accounting. The largest firms (known as the "Big Four") include Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Another excellent way to gain relevant experience is by working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). IRS auditors and accountants use many of the same skills necessary for forensic accountants.
Forensic accountants usually advance by gaining experience and establishing reputations for integrity, thorough documentation, and reliable calculations. As a forensic accountant gains experience, he or she usually attracts more clients and is able to work on more interesting, complex cases. Experienced forensic accountants also can charge more per hour for their services, which is of special benefit if the professional is self-employed. With experience, a forensic accountant also may gain opportunities to manage a litigation support department or to become a partner in an accounting firm. A significant number of forensic accountants also advance by leaving larger firms to establish their own companies.
Tips for Entry
Use social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings. LinkedIn is especially useful because you can create a professional profile, network with accounting industry recruiters and workers, and join accounting-related groups.
Visit https://www.thiswaytocpa.com for useful information about resumes, job interviewing, networking, accounting careers, licensing, and much more.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers a wealth of information about landing an internship at https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/work-experience/articles/internships.
Visit https://mycareer.aicpa-cima.com for job listings.
Read the FVS Consulting Digest (https://www.aicpa.org/interestareas/forensicandvaluation/newsandpublications.html) to learn more about the field.