Is it getting hot in here? A new report released by the American Institute of CPAs aims to educate CPA firms and college professors about the skills required to get into forensic accounting – a niche that is getting increasingly popular with younger CPAs.

The report, “Characteristics and Skills of the Forensic Accountant” combs the brains of attorneys, forensic CPAs and academics to gather their thoughts on the qualities they believe are essential in a forensic accountant.

Not surprisingly, analytical ability was cited as the most essential characteristic of a forensic accountant by all groups surveyed – 78 percent of attorneys, 86 percent of CPAs and 90 percent of academics.

The three groups differed, however, on how they ranked core skills. Attorneys believed oral communications to be the most important skill, especially in a court of law. CPAs identified critical and strategic thinking as the most important skill with written and oral communications as second and third in importance, respectively. And the academics agreed with the CPAs that critical and strategic thinking was prime, but they rated auditing skills and investigative ability as second and third.

Hmm …

The AICPA is looking to draw younger people into the field, according to Michael Ueltzen, a forensic CPA who chairs the AICPA Certified in Financial Forensics Committee. And as a result, the Institute hopes the report will guide academics on what a forensic accounting curriculum needs to encompass.

“Students see opportunities in forensic accounting, so we’re developing a program for the forensic accountant of the future,” Ueltzen said. “About 50 colleges offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in forensic accounting or a certification in the discipline. That’s five times what the number was only five years ago.”

The report is free. Download a copy here