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Become A Cost Accountant

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Working As A Cost Accountant

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Getting Information
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $50,974

    Average Salary

What Does A Cost Accountant Do

A Cost Accountant is responsible for performing cost analyses and preparing budget reports. They establish standard costs, maintain and review the general ledger, and reconcile balance sheets.

How To Become A Cost Accountant

Most accountants and auditors need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Certification within a specific field of accounting improves job prospects. For example, many accountants become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).  


Most accountant and auditor positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire applicants who have a master’s degree, either in accounting or in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

A few universities and colleges offer specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in internal auditing. In some cases, those with associate’s degrees, as well as bookkeepers and accounting clerks who meet the education and experience requirements set by their employers, get junior accounting positions and advance to accountant positions by showing their accounting skills on the job.

Many colleges help students gain practical experience through summer or part-time internships with public accounting or business firms.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Every accountant filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is required by law to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Many other accountants choose to become a CPA to enhance their job prospects or to gain clients. Many employers will often pay the costs associated with the CPA exam.

CPAs are licensed by their state’s Board of Accountancy. Becoming a CPA requires passing a national exam and meeting other state requirements. Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be certified, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree to meet the 150-hour requirement, but a master’s degree is not required.

A few states allow a number of years of public accounting experience to substitute for a college degree.

All states use the four-part Uniform CPA Examination from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Candidates do not have to pass all four parts at once, but most states require that they pass all four parts within 18 months of passing their first part.

Almost all states require CPAs to take continuing education to keep their license.

Certification provides an advantage in the job market because it shows professional competence in a specialized field of accounting and auditing. Accountants and auditors seek certifications from a variety of professional societies. Some of the most common certifications are listed below:

The Institute of Management Accountants offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) to applicants who complete a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must have worked at least 2 years in management accounting, pass a two-part exam, agree to meet continuing education requirements, and comply with standards of professional conduct. The exam covers areas such as financial statement analysis, working-capital policy, capital structure, valuation issues, and risk management. 

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) offers the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) to graduates from accredited colleges and universities who have worked for 2 years as internal auditors and have passed a four-part exam. The IIA also offers the Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA), Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA), and Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) to those who pass the exams and meet educational and experience requirements.

ISACA offers the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) to candidates who pass an exam and have 5 years of experience auditing information systems. Information systems experience, financial or operational auditing experience, or related college credit hours can be substituted for up to 3 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, or security.

For accountants with a CPA, the AICPA offers the option to receive any or all of the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), or Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certifications. The ABV requires a written exam, completion of at least six business valuation projects, and 75 hours of continuing education. The CITP requires 1,000 hours of business technology experience and 75 hours of continuing education. Candidates for the PFS also must complete a certain amount of work experience and continuing education, and pass a written exam.


Some top executives and financial managers have a background in accounting, internal auditing, or finance.

Beginning public accountants often advance to positions with more responsibility in 1 or 2 years and to senior positions within another few years. Those who excel may become supervisors, managers, or partners; open their own public accounting firm; or transfer to executive positions in management accounting or internal auditing in private firms.

Management accountants often start as cost accountants, junior internal auditors, or trainees for other accounting positions. As they rise through the organization, they may advance to accounting manager, chief cost accountant, budget director, or manager of internal auditing. Some become controllers, treasurers, financial vice presidents, chief financial officers, or corporation presidents.

Public accountants, management accountants, and internal auditors can move from one aspect of accounting and auditing to another. Public accountants often move into management accounting or internal auditing. Management accountants may become internal auditors, and internal auditors may become management accountants. However, it is less common for management accountants or internal auditors to move into public accounting.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to identify issues in documentation and suggest solutions. For example, public accountants use analytical skills in their work to minimize tax liability, and internal auditors use these skills to detect fraudulent use of funds.  

Communication skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to listen carefully to facts and concerns from clients, managers, and others. They must also be able to discuss the results of their work in both meetings and written reports.

Detail oriented. Accountants and auditors must pay attention to detail when compiling and examining documentation.

Math skills. Accountants and auditors must be able to analyze, compare, and interpret facts and figures, although complex math skills are not necessary.

Organizational skills. Strong organizational skills are important for accountants and auditors who often work with a range of financial documents for a variety of clients.

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Cost Accountant jobs

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Cost Accountant Career Paths

Cost Accountant
Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Accounting Director
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Accountant Accounting Supervisor
Accounting Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Finance Manager Senior Manager Controller
Accounting Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Controller Accounting Consultant Accounting Manager
Corporate Accounting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Accountant Accounting Manager Controller
Corporate Controller
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Assistant Controller Controller
Director Of Accounting & Finance
11 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Senior Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Division Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Cost Analyst Senior Accountant Assistant Controller
Divisional Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Controller
Finance Controller
9 Yearsyrs
Accounting Supervisor Finance Analyst Senior Finance Analyst
Finance Planning Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Finance Manager Business Manager Controller
Finance Vice President
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Finance Analyst Finance Manager Controller
Interim Controller
15 Yearsyrs
Controller Finance Consultant Senior Finance Analyst
Manager, Finance Analysis
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Cost Accountant Cost Accounting Manager Accounting Manager
Manager/Finance Accounting
8 Yearsyrs
Staff Accountant Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Plant Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Finance Analyst Controller
Regional Controller
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Cost Accountant Senior Accountant
Reporting Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Staff Accountant Internal Auditor Accountant
Senior Accountant
6 Yearsyrs
Cost Analyst Senior Finance Analyst Accounting Manager
Senior Accounting Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Accounting Manager Finance Manager
Senior Finance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
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Cost Accountant Demographics


  • Female

  • Male

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Asian

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

  • French

  • Mandarin

  • Russian

  • Portuguese

  • Cantonese

  • Italian

  • German

  • Arabic

  • Vietnamese

  • Hindi

  • Korean

  • Japanese

  • Armenian

  • Greek

  • Hebrew

  • Urdu

  • Polish

  • Swedish

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Cost Accountant

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Cost Accountant Education

Cost Accountant

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Real Cost Accountant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Property Accountant DF Property Management LLC Washington, DC Apr 13, 2016 $115,000
Cost Accountant Ajulia LLC North Brunswick, NJ Oct 19, 2016 $101,000
Chief Cost Accountant Bright Star Academy Day Care Corp Miami, FL Nov 21, 2016 $97,053
Cost Accountant Bohong, Inc. Santa Clara, CA May 01, 2015 $90,000
Cost Accountant Schumann/Steier, Inc. Coral Gables, FL Sep 06, 2015 $86,000
Cost Accountant Bentley Laboratories LLC Edison, NJ Sep 12, 2016 $85,000
Cost Accountant North American Spares Ltd. Culver City, CA Jan 29, 2016 $82,805
Cost Accountant By Design LLC New York, NY May 23, 2016 $76,066
Cost Accountant Johnson Controls, Inc. Riverside, MO Jul 06, 2015 $75,774 -
Cost Accountant-Senior Cummins Filtration, Inc. Neillsville, WI Mar 23, 2016 $75,600 -
Cost Accountant-Senior Cummins Filtration, Inc. Neillsville, WI Sep 16, 2015 $75,600 -
Cost Accountant Lino International Inc. Great Neck, NY Sep 21, 2016 $55,932
Cost Accountant Luminus, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jul 01, 2015 $55,786
Cost Accountant Choudhry & Sons Corporation Waldorf, MD Apr 15, 2016 $55,660
Cost Accountant, Manufacturing Facility Olivet International Inc. Mira Loma, CA Jan 29, 2016 $55,640
Cost Accountant New York Mart Group Inc. Islandia, NY Aug 21, 2016 $55,556
Cost Accountant Camellia Wang LLC New York, NY Sep 22, 2016 $55,556
Cost Accountant Knack Ny Inc. New York, NY Sep 25, 2016 $55,556
Cost Accountant Lenwich HQ LLC New York, NY Sep 15, 2016 $55,370
Cost Accountant Plasticoid Company Elkton, MD Mar 08, 2016 $49,838
Cost Accountant The Plasticoid Company Inc. Elkton, MD Mar 08, 2016 $49,838
Cost Accountant Wholesale Club LLC Hartford, CT Dec 08, 2015 $49,650
Cost Accountant Hysco America Company Inc. Greenville, AL Sep 10, 2015 $49,500
Cost Accountant Foxconn Ems, Inc. Houston, TX Jun 20, 2016 $49,274
Property Accountant Catalyst Solutions LLC Houston, TX Jan 09, 2016 $49,274

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Top Skills for A Cost Accountant


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Top Cost Accountant Skills

  1. Monthly Financial Statements
  2. Monthly Journal Entries
  3. General Ledger Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepare monthly financial statements including variance analysis.
  • Prepared monthly journal entries, analyzed information and resolved any Discrepancies and issues with financial and operations departments.
  • Compile and analyze financial information to prepare entries to general ledger accounts, documenting business transactions.
  • Updated accounts with accurate information, provided monthly variance analysis for accounts.
  • Conducted physical inventory audits for fixed assets and updated asset registry in SAP.

Top Cost Accountant Employers

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