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Posted On: April 15, 2018 by Henry R. Steele

The following article discusses the career path of Cost Accountant. Learn about how to become one, education requirements, job duties, traits and qualities, national salary outlook as well as top national employers of Cost Accountants.

Job Duties

Cost accountants are responsible for both routine and specialized cost analysis to ensure that materials and operations are managed in a cost effective manner. They are a specialized type of accountant that helps to determine the raw materials and products that are most suitable for the business operation. They often have to develop costing systems and evaluate inventory and its costs. They must also be able to identify and rationalize the factors that lead to cost variations. This requires research skills. Furthermore, they must be able to document and report on cost variations, advising senior managers on how to make certain decisions. This may also include setting product prices and salaries.

Other job duties of a cost accountant are:

  • To analyze ledger activities every month, quarter, and year
  • To report to management in relation to audit schedules
  • To ensure all processes and services are fully compliant with the generally accepted accounting principles and the relevant regulatory requirements.
  • To report on records of costs of service provision and goods manufacturing

Where We Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,397,700 accountants and auditors in 2016. The largest employers of these professionals are:

  • Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services: 25%
  • Government: 8%
  • Finance and insurance: 8%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 7%
  • Self-employed workers: 7%

How to Become

A cost accountant will usually have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as finance or accounting. They must usually also have significant professional experience. They must be trained in various IT suites, including Microsoft Office. They must be able to work as part of a team and also independently. Usually, they work in an office during regular hours, although overtime work may be required to meet deadlines.

If they have to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This means that they have to complete education beyond their bachelor’s degree and pass the CPA exam. Some cost accountants are expected to be a CPA, which is why most have the master’s degree as this enables them to meet and exceed the 150 semester hours of coursework requirement for the certification examination. The CPA examination is offered by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). This certification must be maintained through continuous education.

Cost accountants usually start their career at an entry level position and then grow into supervisory roles, then becoming managers and eventually even partners. Some start as junior internal auditors, for instance, rising through the organization over time. It is also common for cost accountants to move between internal auditing and management accounting so that they get more varied experiences.

Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement, with a major in accounting, finance, or related field. Those with a master’s degree are usually in higher demand, particularly those with a master in business administration (MBA) with an accountancy concentration.

Aside from the CPA designation, other certifications can also be beneficial for someone working as a cost accountant, such as:

– Certified Management Accountant (CMA) offered by the Institute of Management Accountants
– Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
– Certified in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA) offered by the IIA
– Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP) offered by the IIA
– Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) offered by the IIA
– Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) offered by the IIA
– Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) offered by ISACA
– CPA Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) offered by AICPA
– CPA Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) offered by AICPA
– CPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) offered by AICPA

Traits & Qualities

The most effective cost accountant have the following traits to some degree or other:

– Strong analytical skills
– Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written
– Detail oriented
– Excellent mathematical skills
– Strong organizational skills

Minimum Education

Bachelor’s Degree

National Salary

The national average salary estimate for Cost Accountant was $65,282. This number is estimated from over 1,353,436 employees, users past and present job advertisements from Indeed.com. This equates to an hourly salary of $34.00 and monthly of $5,440.

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$29,000

$114,000

Salary Distribution

Salary by State

The following section lists Cost Accountant salaries in each state around the country. The figures are based on the total number of job postings through Indeed.com. For example, New Hampshire had the largest quoted salary of $73,219 while Maine had the smallest quoted salary of $49,867.

Alabama Illinois Mississippi Pennsylvania
Arkansas Indiana North Carolina Rhode Island
Arizona Kansas Nebraska South Carolina
California Kentucky New Hampshire Tennessee
Colorado Louisiana New Jersey Texas
Connecticut Massachusetts New Mexico Utah
Delaware Maryland Nevada Virginia
Florida Maine New York Washington
Georgia Michigan Ohio Wisconsin
Hawaii Minnesota Oklahoma West Virginia
Iowa Missouri Oregon
Alabama$62,106 Rank: 31st

The average salary ranks 31st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like ITAC, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, ITAC Solutions, and PANGEATWO.

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$30,000

$104,000

Salary Distribution
Arkansas$58,221 Rank: 39th

The average salary ranks 39th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like The Judge Group, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Express Employment Professionals, and Accountemps.

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$28,000

$98,000

Salary Distribution
Arizona$66,114 Rank: 15th

The average salary ranks 15th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Vaco, Aston Carter, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Headfarmer.

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$32,000

$112,000

Salary Distribution
California$72,944 Rank: 2nd

The average salary ranks 2nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like DENHAM CORPORATION, Keairns Search Group, CorePosition – Manufacturing, and SunOpta.

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$33,000

$127,000

Salary Distribution
Colorado$60,535 Rank: 36th

The average salary ranks 36th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like SNI Financial, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, High Country Staffing, and Aston Carter.

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$26,000

$109,000

Salary Distribution
Connecticut$68,127 Rank: 9th

The average salary ranks 9th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Randstad Professionals, Creative Financial Staffing, CyberCoders, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$34,000

$111,000

Salary Distribution
Delaware$61,171 Rank: 35th

The average salary ranks 35th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Tech Mahindra, Aston Carter, and Hunter International.

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$7.40

$73.50

Salary Distribution
Florida$61,473 Rank: 33rd

The average salary ranks 33rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like South Florida Recruiters, Attis Resources, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Stratus Investments, LLC.

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$27,000

$109,000

Salary Distribution
Georgia$63,736 Rank: 23rd

The average salary ranks 23rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CHASE Professionals, Atlanta, GA, Robert Half, firstPRO Inc., and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$32,000

$104,000

Salary Distribution
Hawaii$54,800 Rank: 42nd

The average salary ranks 42nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$27,000

$83,000

Salary Distribution
Iowa$63,046 Rank: 25th

The average salary ranks 25th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like The Judge Group, Palmer Group, CyberCoders, and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$32,000

$104,000

Salary Distribution
Illinois$67,006 Rank: 13th

The average salary ranks 13th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Manufacturer, Chicago, Theophany, Future Technical Staffing Solutions, LLC, and CFS Inc..

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$32,000

$115,000

Salary Distribution
Indiana$67,788 Rank: 12th

The average salary ranks 12th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like MJ Recruiters, LLC, fulltimeGiGS, NORTH STAR, and TalentSource Staffing.

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$31,000

$119,000

Salary Distribution
Kansas$60,286 Rank: 37th

The average salary ranks 37th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Morgan Hunter, Morgan Hunter Companies, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Stivers Staffing Services, Inc..

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$28,000

$104,000

Salary Distribution
Kentucky$62,708 Rank: 30th

The average salary ranks 30th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Parker and Lynch, Talis Group Inc., Angel Group, and PSG.

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$31,000

$104,000

Salary Distribution
Louisiana$61,960 Rank: 32nd

The average salary ranks 32nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Accountemps.

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$29,000

$106,000

Salary Distribution
Massachusetts$68,470 Rank: 8th

The average salary ranks 8th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CyberCoders, Michael Page US, Kforce Finance and Accounting, and KBW Financial.

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$33,000

$116,000

Salary Distribution
Maryland$64,618 Rank: 20th

The average salary ranks 20th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Marcum Search LLC, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Accountemps.

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$24,000

$123,000

Salary Distribution
Maine$49,867 Rank: 43rd

The average salary ranks 43rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$14,000

$106,000

Salary Distribution
Michigan$61,211 Rank: 34th

The average salary ranks 34th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like ALL STAR EMPLOYMENT, Dragonfly Pros, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Integrated Resource Solutions.

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$25,000

$112,000

Salary Distribution
Minnesota$67,966 Rank: 11th

The average salary ranks 11th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International, CyberCoders, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and Creative Financial Staffing.

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$32,000

$117,000

Salary Distribution
Missouri$65,303 Rank: 16th

The average salary ranks 16th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Beacon Hill Staffing, Philips Recruiting Services, Prime Package & Label Co., and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$33,000

$107,000

Salary Distribution
Mississippi$62,716 Rank: 28th

The average salary ranks 28th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$31,000

$99,000

Salary Distribution
North Carolina$64,150 Rank: 21st

The average salary ranks 21st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like 3DDTS Global LLC, Philips Recruiting Services, Vaco, and Sherpa LLC.

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$32,000

$103,000

Salary Distribution
Nebraska$57,345 Rank: 40th

The average salary ranks 40th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Western NE Marketing & Recruiting, and Accountemps.

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$29,000

$92,000

Salary Distribution
New Hampshire$73,219 Rank: 1st

The average salary ranks 1st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International, Coworx Staffing, Kforce Finance and Accounting, and Michael Page US.

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$30,000

$135,000

Salary Distribution
New Jersey$68,025 Rank: 10th

The average salary ranks 10th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Henderson Harbor Group, Perennial Resources International, Vaco, and firstPROPhiladelphia.

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$31,000

$119,000

Salary Distribution
New Mexico$71,816 Rank: 3rd

The average salary ranks 3rd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International and Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$31,000

$128,000

Salary Distribution
Nevada$69,083 Rank: 6th

The average salary ranks 6th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, AppleOne, Randstad, and c1search.

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$34,000

$105,000

Salary Distribution
New York$69,143 Rank: 5th

The average salary ranks 5th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Access Staffing LLC, Nigel Frank International, Green Key Resources, and DeBellis, Catherine & Morreale.

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$31,000

$121,000

Salary Distribution
Ohio$63,336 Rank: 24th

The average salary ranks 24th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like CMax Advisors – Large Manufacturer, Kforce Finance and Accounting, General Employment, Inc., and Endevis.

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$32,000

$105,000

Salary Distribution
Oklahoma$69,728 Rank: 4th

The average salary ranks 4th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Career Development Partners, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Rowland Group, The, and Fuse3 Solutions.

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$33,000

$120,000

Salary Distribution
Oregon$64,146 Rank: 22nd

The average salary ranks 22nd among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aston Carter, Parker and Lynch, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, and AppleOne.

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$30,000

$110,000

Salary Distribution
Pennsylvania$62,811 Rank: 27th

The average salary ranks 27th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Nigel Frank International, The Dubin Group, firstPROIncPhiladelphia, and Beacon Hill Financial.

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$30,000

$108,000

Salary Distribution
Rhode Island$59,089 Rank: 38th

The average salary ranks 38th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, ALLIANCE SEARCH, LLC, Randstad Professionals, and Accountemps.

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$29,000

$90,000

Salary Distribution
South Carolina$62,712 Rank: 29th

The average salary ranks 29th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aerotek, TalentBridge, RL Enterprise & Associates, LLC, and FGP International.

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$31,000

$103,000

Salary Distribution
Tennessee$64,951 Rank: 18th

The average salary ranks 18th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Vaco, Robert Half, and Aerotek.

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$30,000

$112,000

Salary Distribution
Texas$65,138 Rank: 17th

The average salary ranks 17th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Spencer Ogden Limited, Thomas, Edwards Group, Financial Additions, and NextStep Recruiting.

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$31,000

$111,000

Salary Distribution
Utah$62,957 Rank: 26th

The average salary ranks 26th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Accountemps, and Big-D Construction.

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$27,000

$113,000

Salary Distribution
Virginia$56,180 Rank: 41st

The average salary ranks 41st among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Aston Carter, SPG, Ajulia Executive Search, and AppleOne.

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$20,000

$110,000

Salary Distribution
Washington$66,628 Rank: 14th

The average salary ranks 14th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Business Talent Solutions, Two Roads Professional Resources, Matrix Finance and Accounting, and Robert Half.

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$33,000

$110,000

Salary Distribution
Wisconsin$64,726 Rank: 19th

The average salary ranks 19th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Phoenix Resource Group, The Judge Group, QPA Finance & Accounting, and Nigel Frank International.

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$31,000

$110,000

Salary Distribution
West Virginia$68,689 Rank: 7th

The average salary ranks 7th among states in the country. There were also job openings from employers like Robert Half Finance & Accounting.

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$30,000

$123,000

Salary Distribution

Top 20 National Employers

According to Indeed.com, the following states had employers looking to hire a Cost Accountant. The quoted salary figure represents the average salary from all job postings by this employer.

Employer Name Location Average Salary

Learn More

Related Careers

Career Name Average Salary
Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.Follow on Twitter.com

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