Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Cost Accountant

Job Description:

Cost accountants, also called management, managerial, industrial, corporate, or private accountants, analyze, and prepare financial records for internal use by business managers. Cost accountants utilize accounting and analysis skills to help companies minimize the costs of producing goods or services. Additionally, they may work with a company’s controllers (financial managers) on asset management, budgeting, and/or evaluating the performance of the company with regard to its financial planning and business goals.

Most cost accountant positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, while mid to large-size companies will favor candidates with a master's degree. Licensure as a certified public accountant (CPA) may be required for some positions. Additional professional certification is available and may help with career opportunities and advancement.
Median Salary:
$43,000 - $108,500
According to the Robert Half 2013 Salary Guide, the average salary for a cost accountant with up to one year of experience with a large company ranges from $43,000 to $53,750. The salary of a cost accountant with the title of manager for a large company ranges from $79,250 to $108,500. Cost accountant salaries vary depending on an individual's experience and education, and the size and industry of an employer.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 16% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Cost accountants play a lucrative role in any financial team, whether part of a large corporation or a small organization. As professionals in cost accounting are responsible for helping to keep the financial welfare of entire businesses in order, the demand for qualified experts in this field should hold steady. The BLS reports that the largest number of cost accountants work in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services, followed in much smaller numbers by finance and insurance. Employment in this industry depends greatly on the impact of fluctuations in the economy, as well as the emergence of new stricter laws which require professional assistance to decipher. With the rise of global commerce, cost accountants with advanced degrees in business and accounting, and/or specialty skills in international finances may hold an advantage over other candidates for top jobs.

Continuing Education:

Cost accountants are required to pursue the necessary education and experience needed to obtain certified public accountant (CPA) certification. Once they have their certification and state licensure, they are also required to maintain their status in order to practice in that state. Schools like Valencia College offer courses designed to keep students up-to-date on the latest in cost accounting, process costing, standard costs, cost-estimating, and decision-making, as per current continuing education mandates. Cost accountants looking to achieve the highest-possible positions in cost accounting would be wise to complete as many education credits and rack up all the experience they can, to enhance their chances with potential employers.