Criminal Justice Degree Careers – Financial Forensic Accounting

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Wondering what jobs can you get with a criminal justice degree? Financial forensics, also referred to as forensic accountants, are professionals who work with law enforcement agencies to investigate the financial data of organizations or individuals. Generally, these professionals are called upon to help build a case against or for a third party. If you have a genuine love for the accounting field, but you wish to do more than simply prepare taxes, then a career as a forensic accountant may be your ideal option. While this career generally requires a certificate or degree in criminal justice, you must be prepared to expand your career by taking accounting and forensic accounting courses.

Job Duties of a Financial Forensic Accountant

While the exact responsibilities and duties of this position will vary based upon your employer and the industry in which you’re employed, nearly all of the positions within this field feature several universal duties and responsibilities. Some of these functions include:

  • Conduct forensic investigations and analysis of various financial records, which include both digital and hard copy financial documents.
  • Perform detailed research to trace the pathway of financial transactions in order to help identify various assets that may be recovered.
  • Prepare detailed forensic reports based upon findings discovered throughout the investigation.
  • Cultivate reports and other forms of analytical data that’s used for litigation. This position may require you to testify for either the prosecution or defense.

Educational Requirements

While the exact educational requirements for this profession can vary based upon the exact sector you with to work for, forensic accounting professionals are typically required to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice with an emphasis in forensic accounting. Some of the most successful candidates are those who obtain a double major in criminal justice and forensic accounting. Along with obtaining a degree, most employers prefer a candidate to hold a specialized certification. Some of the most desired certifications include:

  • Certified Fraud Examiner or CFE
  • Chartered Accountant or CA
  • Certified Public Accountant or CPA

Salary for Forensic Accountants

The salary for this position can range anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 per year. Of course, the city in which you work will determine your total take home amount. Those who have at least seven years experience within this field generally take home over $150,000 per year. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the company the higher the pay. For example, a major consulting firm will pay significantly more than a nonprofit organization.

The job outlook for this position is promising due to various legislative acts that were recently passed. These laws have created stricter accounting policies, which have not only created more jobs for standard accountants, but also a higher demand for well-trained forensic accountants.

Further Reading: Criminal Law vs Criminal Justice Degrees

4 Primary Courses of a Criminal Justice Degree Program

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A degree in criminal justice is one of the most rewarding, and flexible, degree programs any student can enroll in. Due to the various topics that are covered within this program, students are able to master a variety of skills and topics that are in-demand not only within the criminal justice system, but in the private sector as well. Post 9/11, the security services industry in America has been booming. These jobs typically entail security guards and officers, private security detail, and corporate security contracts. If you’re interested in enrolling in a criminal justice degree program to specialize in fields such as unarmed security guard training or for a federal position such as the U.S. Marshals, then you should take a moment to review the following four primary courses and topics covered in all security services and criminal justice degree programs.

Criminal Justice Degree Program Courses:

The Law and Legal System

This is perhaps the cornerstone of any criminal justice degree program. Throughout this course, you’ll be taught the processes, structures and history of the American legal system. This program is designed to introduce students about law who otherwise have little knowledge of this dynamic and complex subject. While this is the general course, it’s an essential building block before pursuing more specialty topics, such as constitutional law, business law or criminal law. Topics covered within this course include the structure the American court system, primary subdivisions of law, which include criminal procedure, law or torts and civil procedure.

Substantive Criminal Law

This essential course covers all topics related to substantive criminal law. While the exact topics covered within this coursework can vary based upon the training institutions, the most common topics include discovering the origins of criminal law, elements of criminal liability, substantive due process, a process of uncompleted crimes, criminal liability defenses and the doctrine of complicity. Other subject areas may include the various elements of crimes against property, public order, morals, habitation and persons. These courses can be particularly useful for those wishing to obtain their security guard card, or when submitting a PERC card application within their state, such as Illinois requires.

Law of Criminal Procedure

The law of criminal procedure is a vital subject matter for all criminal justice degree students. Within this subject matter, students will learn about the various laws that determine due process that’s involved in criminal defendants. The foundation of this course is case analyses and case interpretations. Students will learn the relationship between criminal procedures, court system and how the U.S. Constitution plays a role in these processes. Other topics include the use of interrogations and its subsequent confessions, identification processes, state law breaking, conviction by trial, the convictions by guilty plea and considerations related to sentencing.

Ethics

Criminal justice ethics are one of the most important subject matters as the topics covered within this coursework are applicable to industries outside of the criminal justice system. Throughout the coursework, students learn how to address various ethical issues that may arise when working within the criminal justice system. Throughout a combination of lectures, discussions and hands-on exercises, students are able to cultivate a better understanding in how ethical dilemmas play a role within the criminal justice system.

Criminal Law vs Criminal Justice Degrees

 

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If you’re considering a career within the criminal justice system, then you likely understand many of these career options require some form of certification or degree. While you may have a general idea of the coursework that’s involved for your desired career, many aspiring criminal justice system workers become confused when it comes to the exact type of degree they should obtain. Perhaps the most common area of confusion involves the difference between criminal law and criminal justice degrees. While similar, the scope of study involved within these two areas is vastly different.

The Differences Between Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Degrees

Although these two subject matters may sound similar, they are vastly different from what’s studied and required for graduation. While the criminal justice system involves both justice and law, the degree programs for each of these topics is vastly different. In the most general of senses, criminal justice is the collective of procedure, policy and practice, which is an essential component of security guard training. With the national increase in hiring security guard companies recently, a criminal justice degree with an emphasis in security services is more relevant than ever.

Criminal justice degree programs primarily focus on criminal investigations and crime prevention. Basically, these programs focus on the varied aspects that pertain to law enforcement and its strategies. There are various agencies that deal with criminal justice. Moreover, these agencies actively work to investigate and prosecute criminal behavior and specific crimes. For example, the FBI investigates federal crimes that occur throughout the United States while the CIA investigates international crimes. Local police departments investigate crimes and criminal behavior within city limits while U.S. Customs Agents actively work to secure the borders of the United States.

This brings us to Criminal Law. This subject, which is also referred to as Penal Law, does not focus so much on the actual criminal acts or behavior of a society, but rather on the actual laws and regulations that help control the peace and security of a civilization. Unlike criminal justice degree programs, which primarily focus on preventing crimes, criminal law narrows its coursework on what actually happens should a person commit a crime. Subject areas within this degree deal with topics such as: dealing with court proceedings, sentencing based upon local and federal laws, verdicts and all other elements that create the law portion of the criminal justice system.

Those who are seeking out a career in the actual court system, such as an attorney, legal mediator, or those interested in becoming a security officer should obtain a criminal law degree. Regardless of what specialty you wish to work in, it’s essential that you further your understanding of the difference between a criminal justice and a criminal law degree. While you may feel you need one or the other, it’s essential that you fully understand what each degree program requires and the job opportunities from having one of these degrees. Either way, expect to pursue a graduate-level degree in either criminal justice or criminal law to secure a professional-level, and well-paid, position within the criminal justice system.