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Cost Accountant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Cost Accountant, or Managerial Accountant, is responsible for reducing a company’s financial waste and increasing their profits. Their primary duties include determining the actual cost and the associated expenses of manufacturing a product, analysing its profitability and compiling the company budget.

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Cost Accountant duties and responsibilities

Cost Accountants assess fixed and variable costs to determine the company’s total cost of manufacturing a product. Other duties and responsibilities of Cost Accountants include:

  • Reviewing and maintaining the balance sheets and general ledger
  • Establishing the standard costs of services or products
  • Updating the standard costs of products and services based on the associated expenses
  • Analysing organisational data and assessing rates of labour, depreciation and overhead to recommend policy amendments that will improve numbers
  • Recommending changes to policies and procedures to improve the company’s cash flow
  • Preparing monthly or quarterly reports for senior management based on inventory reserve analyses
  • Submitting accounting reports to management every month or quarter
  • Guiding accounting clerical staff by answering questions and coordinating activities
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What does a Cost Accountant do?

Cost Accountants are responsible for cost management, budgeting, asset management and performance evaluation within an organisation. They usually work with the executive team to create a financial plan for the company. They collaborate with heads of companies or corporate executives to strategically plan for the company, or create financial reports for stockholders, creditors, tax authorities and regulatory agencies.

Most Cost Accountants either work in government agencies or large companies. Some Cost Accountants work for a public accounting firm or establish private consulting ventures. Some Cost Accountants work independently and hired by smaller companies.

Cost Accountant skills and qualifications

A successful Cost Accountant candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications these typically include:

  • In-depth understanding of various accounting tools, including systems application and products (SAP), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM)
  • In-depth understanding of the industry and product supply chain
  • Analytical skills
  • Numeracy skills and computer skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Organisational and communication skills
  • Ability to quickly interpret facts and compare data
  • Ability to work under pressure and deliver on tight deadlines

Cost Accountant experience requirements

Cost Accountants must have at least five years of experience to be eligible for open positions. Experience in manipulating large databases is a plus.

Cost Accountant education and training requirements

Cost accountant must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, statistics, finance, business administration or a related field. Some companies prefer a master’s degree in business administration. Some companies might hire candidates who have only an associate degree or have taken accounting coursework at a business school. Other companies require U.K. status with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Financial Reporting Standard for Smaller Entities (FRSSE). A Chartered Accountant (CA) or Chartered Management Accountant (CMA) may also be required.

Cost Accountant salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of a Cost Accountant in the UK is £37,642 per year. This figure varies depending on factors, including experience, location and company.

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Cost Accountant job description FAQs

What are the different types of Cost Accountants?

There are several types of Cost Accountants. These include Senior Cost Accountant, Plant Cost Accountant and Assistant Controllers. A Senior Cost Accountant focuses on compliance, accounting standards and tax reporting. A Plant Cost Accountant prepares financial statements, oversees cash flow, budget and ad hoc projects. An Assistant Controller provides analyses for upper management.

Who does a Cost Accountant report to?

Cost Accountants report directly to the Financial Controller. In some instances, they are required to report to management or stockholders.

What is the difference between a Cost Accountant and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)?

A Cost Accountant has a degree in accounting or a related field and handles cost analyses for a company. A CPA has 150 additional hours of higher education and passes an exam. They can audit financial statements, prepare tax returns and represent taxpayers at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs audits.

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