Online Forensic Accounting Certificate Programs

As a forensic accountant, you might be called on to testify in court or tear through computers to find hidden records. A forensic accountant investigates the flow of money in a company and discovers the ways that people commit fraud. Learn more about the field, how to earn a certificate, certification and career outlook. Schools offering Accounting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Forensic Accounting?

With the many corporate scandals that have happened in recent years, both businesses and governments have come to realize the need for monitoring and legislation. Most forensic accountants are trained general accountants, but they use specialized accounting techniques to detect financial fraud. A forensic accountant looks at business records to determine if a company is incorrectly reporting financial activity or misrepresenting the company's assets. It used to be that accountants could only learn forensic accounting on the job, but now there is specialized training through certificate programs at colleges and universities.

Skills Learned Fraud detection, asset and activity monitoring
Program Length Varies depending on program; minimum of two to three courses
Certifications Exams given through Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants and American College of Forensic Examiners
Job Growth11% for accountants for 2014-2024

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Long Does It Take to Get a Forensic Accounting Certificate?

There are many online programs that offer this certificate, and the amount of time it will take to complete the program differs from program to program. Some programs are part of a graduate degree program, and credits earned in the certificate program can count toward a master's degree.

The majority of programs take less than a year to complete, although there are some limited programs that issue a certificate after taking only 2-3 courses. You need to have an undergraduate degree in accounting to enroll in most programs, and some schools may require that you have professional accounting experience. Some programs also might require you to be admitted to a graduate program before you can enroll.

What Kind of Certifications Can I Get?

In addition to certificates offered by colleges, there are also a variety of professional certifications that you might want to pursue. Some professional organizations also have training programs to help you prepare for certification exams. Such designations are not required to work in this field; most state licensing requirements relate to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation.

The American Institute of CPAs does not list a separate designation for forensic accounting and, in fact, encourages a study of forensic accounting as part of CPA studies. The Institute of Certified Forensic Accountants offers the Certified Professional Forensic Accountant (CPFA) designation, and the American College of Forensic Examiners International offers training leading to the Certified Forensic Accountant (Cr.FA) designation. In some cases, you may have to be a CPA to qualify to take the exams.

Are There Jobs for Forensic Accountants?

According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for accountants are expected to have a higher than average rate of growth at 11% in the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). In 2014, there were more than one million accountants and auditors in the U.S. The BLS doesn't provide wage statistics for forensic accountants, but the median wage of accountants and auditors in 2014 was $65,940.

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