Starting a Forensic Accounting Career at Golden Gate University

By Joey Byers
Bachelor of Science in Business, Accounting Concentration (’17)

I decided that I wanted to be an accountant a year before my exit out of military service. My aspirations were either to become a CPA and open a firm or to become a forensic accountant for a government agency that pursues fraud investigations. I have always wanted to get into some type of investigative field. This began in my youth when I thought being a crime scene investigator or detective would be fun. As an adult, my interest shifted to forensic accounting which is essentially a field of “number detectives.” After watching a few episodes of the TV show American Greed, my interest solidified.

I’m currently completing an undergraduate business degree at GGU with a concentration in Accounting. I shopped around for accounting master’s programs in the Bay Area, but other schools didn’t have as many specialized classes in accounting like GGU offers. The curriculum was the same reason I chose GGU for an undergraduate degree in the first place. GGU not only offers a competitive Master of Science in Accounting (MSA), but also offers a concentration in forensics which happens to be in line with one of my career goals.

The Path2CPA Program

I am taking advantage of the Path2CPA program to finish the MSA program in just one year after finishing my undergraduate business degree. Students like me can get a head start in an accounting career and save time and money in the process. If you were to apply in earnest to the master’s degree program without having an accounting-focused undergraduate degree, the amount of time to complete the program effectively doubles. Fortunately, GGU lets you reduce the time-frame to one year. It’s worth noting that you’re able to take upper-level courses in the undergraduate program.

At my current job, I wear several hats. I own the Accounts Receivable process; reconcile numerous General Ledger accounts at month, quarter, and year end; review and approve expense reports after the departmental managers; and work a lot with compliance issues relating to sales, use, or local taxes. I also have cross-functional roles working closely with the legal and sales operations departments. Now that I am approaching the next phase of my accounting career, it has become apparent that becoming a CPA is a must.

I am taking advantage of the Path2CPA program to finish the Master of Science in Accounting program in just one year after finishing my undergraduate business degree. Students like me can get a head start in an accounting career and save time and money in the process.
—Joey Byers, BSB (’17)

My Advice for Future CPAs

In addition to my educational path, I would like to share some things that I think will help other people who want to start an accounting career.

Being adaptable. Expense reporting systems, accounting systems, month-end close applications, etc., are always changing, so you have to keep up. Also, you might be tasked with managing implementation projects, comparing different systems and then training colleagues on them, doing a month-end close, researching compliance, and gathering audit evidence all on the same day. You should be adaptable and learn to accept the change and the growing pains that might result from it.

Having Technological Intelligence. Knowing Microsoft Word and Excel inside and out will help you immensely. Knowing complex and generic formulas are a must. In some instances, you could be manipulating a General Ledger or other data dump with tens of thousands of line items. If you don’t know your way around Excel, it will eat up hours which doesn’t look good to employers in a time crunch.

Knowing It’s Never Too Late. My message for people who may want to start a career in accounting is that it is never too late. But after you start, don’t stop and understand that sacrifices might have to be made. As an adult coming out of the military, I couldn’t wait for long to begin my career; and a degree is mandatory in the accounting profession. If you can get an entry-level accounting position, accept it. Certain accounting topics in school might become easier for you if you’re getting real-world experience.

If you’re planning on getting your CPA, doing a 1-year Path2CPA stint to get a master’s degree at GGU is the way to go. While getting the degree, I will sit for the CPA exam. The MSA Forensic Accounting concentration is focused on real-world applications and case studies. It is a specialized field, and the program is designed with the Certified Fraud Forensics (CFF) exam in mind. Once I have completed all the requirements for the CPA and go on to test for the CFF designation, my career trajectory is relatively limitless.


LEARN MORE ABOUT STUDYING ACCOUNTING AT GOLDEN GATE UNIVERSITY >>

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