Cost Accountant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Cost Accountant, or Cost Analyst, is a financial professional who’s responsible for assessing business expenses and preparing optimized budget plans for their employer. Their duties include reviewing financial records, researching the market rate for key business costs and adjusting the company ledger to accurately reflect balance sheets.

Build a Job Description

Cost Accountant duties and responsibilities

Cost Accountants collaborate with other accountants and financial staff in the company to provide financial and accounting support to executives and department heads who establish goals and budgets for the organization. Their duties include:

  • Collecting and analyzing data about a company’s operational costs
  • Setting standard costs of manufactured goods
  • Developing and analyzing cost standards
  • Carrying out cost-volume-profit (CVP) analysis, including for small businesses
  • Establishing costs of business processes such as administration, labor, shipping, etc.
  • Performing account reconciliations
  • Preparing audit reports and presenting their findings to management
  • Recommending changes to the company’s processes and policies to reduce cost and maximize profit
  • Advising executives and upper management on appropriate costing based on financial data
  • Managing the company’s balance sheet and accounting books
  • Supporting other company accountants with invoicing and capital expenditure
Build a Job Description

Cost Accountant Job Description Examples

What does a Cost Accountant do?

Cost Accountants are typically employed at consulting firms, accounting agencies or in-house accounting departments at large companies to analyze a company’s expenditures and create reports to advise on improving efficiency and reducing financial waste. They review a company’s financial documents and recommend new accounting procedures that could improve cash flow and make it easier to understand and itemize expense reports. Cost Accountants use financial software to identify inconsistencies and irregularities in operational costs and model the impact of possible budget changes on a company’s financial health. Their role is to improve financial efficiency and give data-driven advice to company leadership.

Cost Accountant skills and qualifications

An excellent Cost Accountant should understand the principles of financial accounting and how it can be used to create a budget for a business. To do this, they use a variety of technical and soft skills, including:

  • Advanced knowledge of mathematics and statistics
  • Understanding of organizational accounting concepts
  • Strong financial analysis skills
  • Ability to prepare financial reports and give recommendations based on available data
  • Superior knowledge of financial reporting software tools and ERP software
  • Ability to perform risk and security assessments
  • In-depth knowledge of financial guidelines and regulations
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Effective communication, including writing, speaking and active listening
  • Collaboration and teamwork

Cost Accountant salary expectations

A Cost Accountant makes an average of $67,360 per year. Salary is may depend on level of experience, education and geographical location.

Cost Accountant education and training requirements

A Cost Accountant needs a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration or another related field. This degree provides candidates with a good understanding of business accounting, financial management, economics and ethics. Some candidates may also have a master’s degree in management accounting or similar fields and may be qualified for Senior Cost Accountant roles or Cost Accountant positions with specialized or leadership responsibilities.

Valuable certificates include the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification, which is for candidates who pass the two-part exam and have at least two years of work experience. Some candidates may also be Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

Cost Accountant experience requirements

Entry-level candidates likely have some professional experience from internships and other practical learning opportunities completed during their undergraduate study. Some entry-level candidates may have 1 or 2 years of professional experience as an Accounting Assistant, Assistant Cost Accountant or another accounting role. 

Candidates with 3 or more years of experience may be suitable for positions that require working with little additional training. Some candidates may also have years of experience as a Cost Accountant and are likely familiar with common and specialized tasks.,

Job description samples for similar positions

If you are hiring for another role or one similar to Cost Accountant, you may consider these templates as well:

Ready to Hire a Cost Accountant? Build a Cost Accountant Job Description

Frequently asked questions about Cost Accountants


What is the difference between a Cost Accountant and a Managerial Accountant?

Cost Accountants and Managerial Accountants both provide expert consultations on a company’s financial choices, but Cost Accountants focus exclusively on expenses while Managerial Accountants consider all of a company’s operations when planning budgets and making recommendations. Cost Accountants compute overall expenses, project long-term costs and look for ways to spend less money, while Managerial Accountants also address revenue sources and other aspects of a business. Managerial Accountants are often part of the leadership team and use qualitative observations and reports produced by Cost Accountants to make predictions about the direction of a company.


What are the daily duties of a Cost Accountant?

On a typical day, Cost Accountants process large amounts of expense information through bookkeeping software, financial documents and industry research. They study the market to produce cost standards for large expenses such as salaries, materials and shipping, then compare actual company expenditures to these standards. Cost Accountants compile information into weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly financial reports and perform cost-benefit analysis on the business’s key expenses. They also conduct valuations on inventory and company assets, monitoring variation in value and cost over time.


What are the characteristics of a good Cost Accountant?

Good Cost Accountants are excellent at multi-tasking, paying attention to detail and recognizing patterns in large sets of information. They enjoy working independently and are highly curious, allowing them to perform in-depth analysis and seek out the possible causes of a company’s high costs. Successful Cost Accountants are organized and focused, recording key information and noting what influenced their reports so they can easily pull up source data or correct unbalanced ledgers.


What should you look for on a Cost Accountant's resume?

A Cost Accountant’s resume should prominently feature their accounting qualifications, including their education and certifications as a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Analyst or Certified Internal Auditor. Strong candidates for a Cost Accountant role will include data on their resume that explains how their analysis saved their previous employers money or eliminated unnecessary expenses. When reviewing resumes for a Cost Accountant position, look for candidates who have experience in your business’s industry so that you can benefit from their knowledge of standard costs and operational procedures in that field.

Job Description Examples

Need help writing a job description for a specific role? Use these job description examples to create your next great job posting. Or if you’re ready to hire, post your job on Indeed.

No search results found

    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021