Dan Dehner, Senior Consultant
It is never too early to start thinking about a career in accounting, and I applaud your interest at such a young age. The forensic accounting field is a thriving industry that is constantly seeking motivated individuals with a specific background. Accounting fraud examination requires certain base level skills, and the easiest way to obtain those skills is to become an auditor for a public accounting firm out of college. I encourage you to attend a university that has a strong accounting program. This can be achieved straight out of high school or from a junior college.
As far as what classes to take, I would focus on high level mathematics courses before college (i.e. AP Statistics and Calculus). This helps build your analytical skills. When in college, focus your studies in accounting and business administration. Also, I would recommend taking business law classes, which are very valuable since most forensic accounting projects are focused around litigation.
Your goal after school should be to begin in the audit group of a public accounting firm, which will allow you to develop an in-depth understanding of accounting transactions as they relate to financial statements and business processes. I always recommend at least three years in public accounting before pursuing other roles. This advice is not all-inclusive, and it certainly isn’t the only pathway to the forensic accounting field. However, it is the method that I recommend because I believe it is the best way to obtain the necessary baseline skills to be a successful forensic professional.
As far as the CPA exam is concerned, the simple answer is that the exam is a challenge, but certainly not impossible. I believe any student who is able to complete an accounting degree can pass the exam as long as they put forth the necessary effort. I would be happy to answer more questions in depth, so feel free to follow-up with me directly by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.