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May 2, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

What is the best path for me to get a job doing forensic accounting for the IRS or a similar EU body?

I am currently the bookkeeper for a small business and am taking on my first client as a personal accountant next week. I have completed all of my training and tests to be a certified bookkeeper, and am around half way through the two years of experience needed to claim that credential. I have attended college but have no degree. I am 27.

I enjoy accounting and feel very passionately that people ought to pay what they owe to the government. I would love to get a job with the IRS and even more with a comparable EU body. To a lesser extent I would be happy to work for the FBI or Interpol or a similar body. I am not interested in working for the Big Four or doing divorce cases.

What is my best path? I would prefer to not have to go back to school, but I expect that I may well need to do that. Is there a career latter I can climb, some kind of work experience that I can get now that will help prepare me to do the kind of more specialized work I want to do later?

Is CPA really the most important thing, or should I go for an Accounting degree, or is there some other education that would help more?

Any advice is welcome, thanks.
posted by Work Related MeFi to Work & Money (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Forensic accountants in the US are almost always CPAs. Most also have either a JD or MBA or both. It's a rather highly specialized field.
posted by dfriedman at 10:20 AM on May 2, 2010


If you want to work in the EU your schooling should ideally be complete in the EU. Assuming English is your only language, look into schools in the the UK. Open universities/distance education is quite common there and would allow you to complete much of your coursework there while working at your current position.

Look for job posting that come close to your ideal job and examine what qualifications they ask for.
posted by saucysault at 10:42 AM on May 2, 2010


I think I would start with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. The requirements to be a CFE do not require a college degree of any kind, as long as you have sufficient experience doing fraud work in accounting or a related field. However, the exam is apparently quite difficult, and there is a significant continuing education requirement. I believe being a CFE would go a long way towards having a career in tax examination.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:44 AM on May 2, 2010


If you ended up going back to school and didn't mind moving, you could look at East Tennessee State University. Low tuition, excellent weather, nice people and professors, excellent undergrad and graduate accounting.
posted by Honkshu at 11:26 AM on May 2, 2010


dfriedman: Forensic accountants in the US are almost always CPAs. Most also have either a JD or MBA or both. It's a rather highly specialized field.

Wow, I did not know that, thanks. If you know of anything similar that might be more attainable, I'm really not locked into the title.

saucysault: Look for job posting that come close to your ideal job and examine what qualifications they ask for.

I looked at the IRS job listings, but they CPA or undergrad accounting degree or graduate accounting or 'comparable work experience,' which, really, wasn't very helpful.

I am taking French classes, but the EU distance learning is a great idea, thanks.

Thanks also ob1quixote and Honkshu; CFE definitely sounds like something worth looking into, and I'll check out Tenn State, too.
posted by Work Related MeFi at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2010


Are you a citizen of an EU member state? You need to be a citizen of an EU country to work for the EU itself, and working within law enforcement and civil service in particular member states will be tricky if you don't meet citizenship requirements and language fluency, so take that into account.
posted by cmonkey at 12:19 PM on May 2, 2010


I work for a District Attorney and we use forensic accountants from time to time on paper crimes. We ALWAYS use a CPA because they need to testify in court and we want them to be an expert in the field. I think you're just going to have to bit that bullet if you want to do this work in the US.
posted by eleslie at 12:54 PM on May 2, 2010


Thanks for all the comments, the all helped, but I only marked the ones that I'm acting on at this moment: the first one got me on the track of distance learning in the UK, which is looking very promising so far (knock on wood) and the one that pointed out that doing national-level law enforcement as a foreign national is going to be neigh-impossible.
posted by Work Related MeFi at 7:32 AM on May 14, 2010


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