What Does it Mean to Study Economic Crime?
White collar crooks. Fraud. Identity theft. This small sample of terms represents the variety of economic crime. Economic crime accounts for a loss of more than $200 billion dollars annually, and as the complexity and costly nature of such activity becomes more sophisticated, this number is expected to increase. The profile of a white-collar criminal usually includes characteristics such as preceived honesty, intelligence, and trustworthiness within his or her corporate environment. These traits often make an economic crime investigation harder to pursue and prevention more troublesome to implement. While these perpetrators may not be violent or physically threatening, the prevention and prosecution of economic crime is essential to American justice. Thus, corporations rely on the expertise and training of investigators and criminal justice professionals to safeguard their financial assets and identities against unscrupulous economic action.
Increasingly, the options and methods for studying economic crime have expanded to include distance learning. The development of online economic crime degree programs has enabled more students to obtain an education in the subject without having to relocate to a physical campus. Students interested in criminal justice degree in economic crime have several options, ranging from certificate programs, to bachelor's degree programs, to master's degree programs. Thus, online college degree programs have opened the doors to many future entry-level professionals as well as to seasoned investigative professionals hoping to advance their careers with distance education.
Because the field of economic crime advances as quickly as the smartest, most sophisticated white-collar criminal, many criminal justice professionals rely on distance learning to continually increase and advance their technical skills and training. Online education makes it possible for students to maintain commitments to full-time jobs while completing requirements to earn a degree. Studying economic crime also opens up doors to many other related careers including private investigation, accounting, security consulting, federal investigation, and auditing.
Trends for Economic Crime Investigation Careers
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job opportunities for qualified public law enforcement agents are expected to grow faster than average through 2012. Projections for the private sector are also positive. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics also expects employment opportunities for private detectives and investigators to increase more quickly than average during that time. Public and corporate awareness of economic criminal activity increases the demand for the services of investigators and detectives.
Preparing for a Degree in Economic Crime Investigation
Professionals in the field of economic crime investigation draw on many different areas of knowledge. A strong economic crime degree program can be an excellent place to develop this knowledge, along with the skills an economic crime investigator needs while on the job. If you're intrigued by the idea of this field, there are some steps you can take before enrolling in order to learn more about economic crime investigation and whether it's really for you.
First, a potential student should investigate the scope of his economic criminal investigation and prevention interests, to get a clear notion of what the work entails. Investigators often work long hours, and professionals focused on corporate fraud and white-collar crime might spend months investigating a single lead. Taking this into consideration, applicants to economic crime degree programs should be inspired by the notion of societal protection, uncovering deeply buried financial deceit, and serving as a legal check on corporate activity.
Secondly, earning a college degree in economic crime involves intense and thorough study of advanced social science, accounting, business, business law, computer technology, psychology, and ethics. Use high school courses in math, science, computers, communications and social sciences as a test run to see how you fare in these fields.
Third, future economic crime students should compare and contrast available degree programs. This can help a student understand not only what degree programs are out there, but also what qualities he or she personally desires in a program. This research may take a lot of work, but the more information a student can gather about economic crime degree programs before applying to one, the better informed his or her decision can be.
Fourth, it is a good idea for prospective students to speak with a current economic crime investigative professional. Take the opportunity to ask questions about day-to-day job tasks, opportunities for career advancement, additional education and training requirements, and anything else you would personally like to know about having a career in this field.
Types of Economic Crime Degrees
As the need for well-trained economic crime professionals increases, more schools develop training and academic programs to meet this demand. Even within this specialized field of criminal justice, many degree choices exist. Students interested in obtaining graduate level Economic Crime degrees could potentially have business, economics, math, computer science, and criminal justice backgrounds.
Additionally, as technology continues to advance, more economic crime schools offer degree programs online. Students participate in online sessions, web seminars, and interactive tutorials virtually. Students who enroll in distance learning degree programs enjoy a unique opportunity to tailor their own schedule and course load to fit in with existing commitments.
Bachelor of Science Degree Programs
The Bachelor of Science degree is a strong foundation for forging a career in economic crime investigation. Bachelor of Science degree programs focus heavily on practical training, criminal justice courses, accounting, computer and technology security, and investigative procedure. Known to be intense and rigorous, B.S. programs also place immense emphasis on merging strong investigation skills with the ability to understand complex, sophisticated technology and criminal efforts. Students pursuing a B.S. in Economic Crime Investigation should expect to commit to four years of academic study. Online economic crime B.S. degree programs offer students this well-rounded education over the Internet, making the opportunity to earn a degree possible from anywhere with internet access.
What Can You Do With a College Major in Economic Crime?
As the job title suggests, a corporate investigator is responsible for internal and external investigation for corporations. Internally, corporate investigators are commonly charged with the job of investigating employee drug use in the workplace, ensuring honest and legal use of employee expense accounts, or determining if employees are stealing merchandise or information from the business. A corporate external investigation usually aims to prevent criminal activity and scheming originating outside the corporation, including theft of company assets and fraudulent economic activity.
The work of a financial investigator may involve the development of financial profiles of individuals and companies who are prospects in major business and financial transactions. It is common for a financial investigator to start his or her career as a Certified Public Accountant, which requires at least a Bachelor degree, related work experience, and the successful completion of a certification examination. Investigators in this specialty search for assets in an attempt to recover court awarded damages.
A private investigator is hired by an individual or corporation to research, determine, and verify facts. Utilizing search and surveillance methods, private investigators are essential figures in the determination of sophisticated, visibly subtle criminal activity. The results of their investigations are turned over to the hiring party who can choose to proceed with an appropriate response. It is common for private investigators to specialize in a specific area, including adultery, economic, and criminal investigation. Careers for private investigators are advanced through education, field experience, and technology training.
Experienced security management professionals may offer consultation services to banks, Internet companies, and other corporations. Experts in developing efficient, reliable security systems are highly valuable in the prevention and detection of fraudulent activities. Consultants offer guidance and advice specific to the particular needs of the client. For example, a security consultant might be hired to verify that financial transactions on an e-commerce website are protected against identity theft. A large corporation might require the services of a security consultant to develop a financial and expense monitoring system. Typically, a security consultant has a related degree and multiple years of field experience.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Accountants offer various accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services to clients such as corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. Accountants advise clients about tax advantages and disadvantages, prepare tax returns, and offer financial guidance. Other accountants may develop security expertise and offer consultation services to help corporations safeguard their assets. Additionally, other accountants audit financial statements to ensure honesty and accurate reporting to investors and government authorities. Public accountants typically earn C.P.A certification and have a Bachelor degree in accounting.
Internal auditors are employed for the purposes of verifying the accuracy of their organization's internal records. An important function of an internal auditor's job is to investigate for employment mismanagement and fraud. This type of work is increasingly necessary and useful for managing security and preventing fraudulent activity. Internal auditors analyze financial and information systems. They also put internal measures in place to ensure that controls are sufficient to protect against fraud and waste.
Economic Crime Certification and Licensure
Appropriate certification is necessary depending on what career path an individual pursues. To clarify, the umbrella of economic crime encompasses private investigators, public investigators and law enforcement professionals, internal and external auditors, accountants, and other technical professionals.
For example, almost every state has determined its own set of certification standards and requirements for private investigators. Students interested in pursuing a career in private investigation should consult their state's private investigation association for a detailed explanation of certification and licensure requirements.
In addition to obtaining a state license or certification, private investigators can also earn the Certified Investigative Professional (CIP) certification. Licensed private investigators must have two years of experience, 40 hours of continuing-education credit, have participated in networking meetings, and have passed a written examination to earn this designation.
Internal auditing professionals can earn the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors. Requirements for this certification include obtaining a Bachelor degree, two years of professional experience, a character reference, and completion of 80 hours of continuing education courses every two years. The CIA candidate must also pass a national examination. This professional association also offers the Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) certification for auditors working in the public sector. Requirements for this designation also include obtaining a Bachelor degree, two years of professional experience, and a character reference. CGAP candidates meeting these requirements are qualified to sit for a national examination covering public auditing principles, which is the final step in obtaining this certification.
Accounting professionals earn the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification. To take the exam associated with this designation, a professional must apply through his State Board of Accountancy. States have differing requirements. Some states require an additional 30 hours of academic credit earned beyond the Bachelor degree, while other states substitute two years of professional experience in lieu of additional coursework. Students hoping to enter the field of economic crime prevention and management via accounting should contact their state's accountancy board for a description of specific requirements. Once the state's requirements have been satisfied, an accounting professional can apply to take the national CPA exam, offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Civil service regulation governs the appointment of public detectives in almost every state, major city, and special enforcement agency. In order to be appointed as a local or state government employed detective, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen, at least 20 years old, and must meet many other strenuous physical and personal qualifications. Appointment in the Federal government mandates that a candidate must be at least 21 years old, but no more than 37 years old, on the day of appointment. In addition to physical examinations that test vision, hearing, agility, and strength, candidates must also perform well on a written examination. Previous education and work experience is also a factor.
Other Economic Crime Management Related Professional Associations and Certification Bodies:
For more information about careers in the field of economic crime prevention:
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- Certified Investigative Professionals
- Institute of Internal Auditors
- National Association of Investigative Specialists
- National White Collar Crime Center
- Association of Christian Investigators
- High Technology Crime Investigation Association
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants