What does a Cost Accountant do?

A cost accountant often works in the accounting department of a company to prepare financial records, such as cost analyzes and monthly budget reports. A successful cost accountant has the excellent analytical skills necessary to manage vast amounts of numerical data to calculate profit margins and recommend ways for an organization to minimize their costs. They also need a keen eye for details to update information regularly into accounting software programs and spot inaccuracies.

In general, cost accountants study in the fields of accounting or finance to achieve a minimum of a Bachelor of Science degree. Some will work in a public accounting firm or may manage multiple clients by means of their own independent practice. To excel, a cost accountant should be proficient in computer skills, creating databases, and be able to help an organization to establish a stable budget within their specifications.

What responsibilities are common for Cost Accountant jobs?
  • Collect and organize cost information into a database of expenses
  • Construct systems to accumulate and monitor data
  • Determine and calculate formulas for fixed and variable costs, such as rent, insurance, and monthly purchases
  • Plan budgets and prepare reports for multiple departments within a company
  • Review receipts and compare with actual charges to detect inaccuracies
  • Project profit margins for upcoming quarters and analyze trends of highs and lows
  • Prepare cost forecasts for monthly, quarterly, or annual operating schedules
  • Analyze month-end and year-end reports to identify and recommend cost-effective improvements
What are the typical qualifications for Cost Accountant jobs?
  • Demonstrated understanding of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • 2+ years of work experience as a cost accountant, analyst, or other relevant role
  • In-depth knowledge of accounting principles and best practices
  • Familiarity with accounting software programs, such as FreshBooks and QuickBooks
  • Computer literacy skills, especially with MS Excel and basic data entry and computation
  • Analytical skills with a keen sense of organization and detail
  • Proven time management skills and ability to work under strict deadlines
  • Respect for confidentiality of information laws and local ethics
  • Expertise in activity-based costing for fixed and variable costs in relation to the overall direct cost of a line of products
Education--
Work/Life Balance
3.6 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.6 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

How much does a Cost Accountant make?

Confident
$72,860 /yr
Total Pay
$63,883
 /yr

Base Pay

+
$8,977
 /yr

Additional Pay

$72,860

 / yr
$49K$109K
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Cost Accountant Career Path

Learn how to become a Cost Accountant, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Cost Accountant

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
24%
2 - 4
52%
5 - 7
8%
8+
16%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Cost Accountant Insights

Read what Cost Accountant professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
NHSNHS
Cost Accountant
May 20, 2021

“Nice place to work everyone working towards a common goal to deliver the best quality patient care”

SMG Engineering Automotive Company
Senior Treasury Accountant
Nov 17, 2021

“plus medical insurance which is also not the best”

CummingCumming
Cost Manager
May 16, 2022

“Good Work life balance is good”

AccentureAccenture
General Ledger Analyst
May 17, 2022

“Better salary and good hike on promotion”

CovetrusCovetrus
Cost Accountant
Aug 12, 2021

“Can bring your dog to work and people can be friendly.”

Turner and TownsendTurner and Townsend
Cost Manager
Dec 13, 2020

“Salaries/day rates not competitive.”

Turner and TownsendTurner and Townsend
Cost Manager
May 13, 2020

“Good performance is not rewarded financially.”

Turner and TownsendTurner and Townsend
Senior Cost Manager
Jan 4, 2022

“Directors were career men and there wasn’t much room to grow into.”

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Cost Accountant Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a Cost Accountant

The most similar professions to Cost Accountant are:
  • Management Accountant
  • Accountant
  • Accounting Manager
  • Project Accountant

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Management Accountant
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Accounting Manager
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Project Accountant
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Cost Accountant Jobs