What does a Cost Analyst do?

Cost analysts examine corporate expenses to create reports for management. They often work in manufacturing, where their skills come in handy for auditing production costs. Cost analysts gather financial data including inventory purchases or labor costs and analyze it to uncover any deficiencies. They often estimate production costs and track regular expenses, which may be related to a new process or a new product, and collect and analyze financial data.

Cost analysts estimate costs, compare a budget to the actual expenses, and monitor costs while following significant product or process changes. They prepare reports which help shape management decisions and must be well-versed in data and financial analysis. They determine standard costs and investigate variances in expenses and may be called upon to prepare detailed reports both periodically and on the spot. They create and manage budgets, monitor spending, and conduct audits on financial processes and transaction cost analysts who need a degree in finance, accounting, or related fields. Certified public accountant designation is often preferred.

What responsibilities are common for Cost Analyst jobs?
  • Focus heavily on forecasting, team learning, and process improvements.
  • Perform detailed variance analysis of actual financial results versus plan, forecast, and key performance metrics.
  • Ensure operational departments understand and follow policies and procedures.
  • Provide daily leadership, coaching and direction to direct reports.
  • Work closely with accounting to ensure accurate financial reporting.
  • Weekly tracking and reporting to program management and customers.
  • Develop and maintain Estimate to Complete (EAC's) across various projects (Cost-Type, T&M, Fixed Price, etc.)
  • Serve as the primary interface between assigned and designated departments.
  • Report directly to finance management when necessary.
  • Review strategic and task order pricing, providing pricing recommendations.
  • Drive VCP activities and lean initiatives in the supply base to optimize cost.
  • Examine data to help with reducing cost in all operations.
  • Develop/conduct training of both program and functional staff in cost estimating.
  • Monitor project costs and commitment to budget and forecast.
  • Design reporting tools to monitor cost of goods sold data.
  • Maximize profitability through product cost savings initiatives factoring in impact from sourcing strategy shifts, manufacturing practices, duty landscape, macro-economic variables, payment terms, logistics models, business and consumer needs.
  • Assist with the preparation of purchase orders and bid specifications.
  • Perform schedule risk assessments to identify and mitigate program cost and scheduling risks.
  • Maintain variable cost files and price/volume variance analysis by product.
  • Work with key stakeholders to identify project risks and track them.
  • Consult on cost impacts of potential product engineering solutions for key product programs / categories.
  • Contribute to plans for yearly operations, budgets, and estimating new product costs, including economic analysis.
What are the typical qualifications for Cost Analyst jobs?
  • Bachelor's or Graduate's Degree in mathematics, business, finance or engineering, or equivalent experience.
  • Experience with spreadsheets, PCA, AS/400, and SQL software and systems.
  • Comfortable with decision making and problem solving.
  • Skilled at cost estimates and cost analysis with an eye for detail.
  • Is a leader and negotiator.
  • Strives for continuous improvement.
  • Comfortable collaborating, negotiating and planning budgets.
  • Prior experience as a consultant.
  • Experience with takeoffs, variance analysis and change orders.
Work/Life Balance
3.8 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.6 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

How much does a Cost Analyst make?

$75,140 /yr
Total Pay

Base Pay


Additional Pay


 / yr
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Cost Analyst Career Path

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

Cost Analyst

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
2 - 4
5 - 7
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Cost Analyst Insights

Read what Cost Analyst professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Senior Cost Analyst
Jun 17, 2022

“Once you get in the door there are many opportunities to develop your career and be promoted from within.”

Okland ConstructionOkland Construction
Cost Engineer
Mar 27, 2021

“Dont mind pulling 70 hours a week to get deadlines done for bids when that situation arises because my boss is awesome.”

Washington State UniversityWashington State University
Fiscal Analyst
Mar 22, 2021

“One of the best teams I've worked with and the job is fun because there is always something to learn”

Cost Engineer
Oct 31, 2021

“Good and competitive salary.”

SL AmericaSL America
Cost Analyst
Apr 22, 2021

“Good good good good good”

FSI InternationalFSI International
Cost Estimator
Feb 15, 2021

“Good good good good good”

Cost Segregation
Aug 22, 2022

“Structure was good but not enough support”

L.A. Darling CompanyL.A. Darling Company
Cost Analyst
Mar 22, 2022

“Paid holidays and first day benefits”

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Cost Analyst Interviews

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

The most similar professions to Cost Analyst are:
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Finance Manager
  • Controller

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Cost Analyst Jobs