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The outlook is bright for individuals who want to pursue a career in forensic accounting. Those with a keen eye for numbers, knowledge of accounting software, and a background in principles of economics and accounting are primed to succeed as forensic accountants.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for accountants, including forensic accountants, will rise 6% from 2018-2028. In many states, jobs for accountants will rise even faster, with plenty of states showing growth estimates of 20% or more.
How Much Do Forensic Accountants Make?
How much does a forensic accountant make and what is the average salary of a forensic accountant? According to the BLS, accountants, including forensic accountants, earned a median salary of $70,500 in 2018. Forensic accountants typically hold a bachelor's degree in accounting. Job and salary prospects typically increase when employees specialize and obtain relevant certification. Forensic accountants, for instance, can become a certified forensic examiner (CFE) and/or a certified public accountant (CPA).
Salary by Experience
Experience is a deciding factor in forensic accountant salaries, with potential for significant increases in the first five years alone. The table below illustrates average forensic accountant salaries based on years of experience. Details vary by education level, certifications, and location.
|Entry Level (0-12 Months)||$57,000|
|Early Career (1-4 Years)||$62,000|
|Mid Career (5-9 Years)||$80,000|
|Experienced (10-19 Years)||$87,000|
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Salary by Degree
No degree guarantees a specific salary, but obtaining an accounting degree can influence compensation. While some individuals may obtain a forensic accounting position without a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting, the following table illustrates some of the salary possibilities with those degrees.
Median Salary: $69,000
Median Salary: $91,000
Career Path Salaries
Depending on their individual career goals, experience, specialist certifications, and education, forensic accountants may advance to work as senior accountants, senior financial analysts, or risk analysts. The table below illustrates average salary levels for each of these higher-level positions.
|Potential Next Step||Salary|
|Senior Financial Analyst||$79,447|
What Are the Top States for Forensic Accountant Pay?
Forensic accountant salaries vary by location. While details depend partly on the individual's experience and education, the table below illustrates five of the country's top-paying locations for accountants and auditors, including forensic accountants. The District of Columbia tops the list, with an annual mean wage of $98,130. See below for some of the top states for forensic accountants when it comes to pay. Note that the data is for all accounting jobs, not only forensic accounting.
- District of Columbia Annual Mean Wage: $98,130
- New York Annual Mean Wage: $96,300
- New Jersey Annual Mean Wage: $90,400
- Virginia Annual Mean Wage: $85,640
- Connecticut Annual Mean Wage: $84,890
What Are the Top Industries for Forensic Accountant Pay?
In addition to experience, education, and location, choosing a job in a particular industry can influence a forensic accountant's compensation. The table below illustrates five of the country's top-paying industries for accountants and auditors, including forensic accountants.
|Industry||Annual Mean Wage|
|School and Employee Bus Transportation||$109,250|
|Federal Executive Branch||$100,080|
|Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities||$97,000|
|Other Investment Pools and Funds||$96,770|
|Other Pipeline Transportation||$93,590|
Are Forensic Accountants In Demand?
Historical Career Growth
In the short term, Projections Central projects that all United States territories will see an uptick in demand for accountants, including forensic accountants, from 2018-2020. Though some states, such as Alaska and Maine, expect growth of less than 1%, opportunities are nevertheless on the rise. In the long term (2016-2026), the projected change increases to 10% nationwide.
Future Career Growth
The BLS projects that jobs for accountants and auditors, including forensic accountants, will rise 6% from 2018-2028, about the same rate as the average for all other careers. The projected increase is due to the growing global economy, among other factors. Even in the short term, the BLS projects in some states -- such as Utah, Georgia, and Nevada -- jobs for accountants and auditors will grow 5-6% from 2018-2020.
- Arizona: 6.9% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Colorado: 4.4% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Florida: 4.3% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Georgia: 5.6% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Guam: 5%projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Nevada: 5.3% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- North Carolina: 5% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Tennessee: 4.5% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Texas: 4.4% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Utah: 6.4% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
- Washington: 4.2% projected short-term growth (2018-2020)
Top States for Job Growth
All U.S. states and territories are projected to see a rise in demand for accountants from 2018-2028. All of the top five states project double-digit growth, with Utah projecting the greatest growth at 32.7%. The table below shows the expected change for the top five U.S. states and territories.
32.7% Change from 2016-2026
24.7% Change from 2016-2026
25.5% Change from 2016-2026
24.8% Change from 2016-2026
23.6% Change from 2016-2026
How do Forensic Accountants Compare to Other Accounting Careers?
The BLS includes forensic accountants alongside public accountants, management accountants, government accountants, and both internal and external auditors. Among these jobs, the BLS projects 6% growth from 2018-2028. By a narrow margin, this is the highest percentage among financial professions.
Projections Central also projects:
- a 9.8% rise in demand for financial clerks
- a 9.6% rise in demand for financial specialists
Demand for bookkeepers, accounting, and auditing clerks is projected to drop by 4% in the same time period as digital accounting tools become more robust and fewer administrative jobs are needed.
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Learn More About Forensic Accountant Salaries and Job Growth
- Bureau of Labor Statistics The BLS collects and organizes occupational data from around the United States, providing salary averages, job prospects, and information on what employers look for when hiring.
- O*Net O*Net provides detailed information on the skills, training, and education needed to pursue a particular occupation. Divided into categories such as technology skills, knowledge, tasks, and abilities, O*Net presents an overview of what a job entails, as well as notes on a field's future outlook.
- PayScale PayScale provides detailed salary information by occupation and degree, including national salary averages, salary by experience level, potential job titles, and frequent career paths.
- Projections Central Searchable by state and occupation, Projections Central is a database that provides information on job projections in the long and short term. Individuals can make informed decisions by using the database for comparison studies.
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce This study provides salary data by college major and degree level along a sliding scale, highlighting average numbers for each.
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