Cost accountant job description

Position Description: Cost Accountant

Basic Function: The cost accountant position is accountable for the ongoing analysis of process constraints, target costing projects, margin analysis, and tracing costs back to underlying activities.  The cost accountant must also construct and monitor those cost-effective data accumulation systems needed to provide an appropriate level of costing information to management.

Principal Accountabilities:

Data Collection

  1. Construct data accumulation systems for a cost accounting system
  2. Create and review the controls needed for data accumulation and reporting systems


  1. Coordinate physical inventory counts and cycle counts
  2. Investigate cycle counting variances and resolve issues
  3. Update standard costs in the bill of materials
  4. Review standard and actual costs for inaccuracies
  5. Validate the cost of goods sold as part of the month-end close
  6. Accumulate and apply overhead costs as required by generally accepted accounting principles
  7. Work with the materials review board to locate and dispose of obsolete inventory


  1. Conduct ongoing process constraint analyses
  2. Report on breakeven points by products, work centers, and factories
  3. Report on margins by product and division
  4. Report on periodic variances and their causes, focusing in particular on spending variances
  5. Analyze capital budgeting requests
  6. Perform cost accumulation tasks as a member of the target costing group

Desired Qualifications: 3+ years of accounting/finance experience, or 5+ years experience in industrial engineering. Also, a BA/BS degree, as well as excellent analysis skills, and the ability to collaborate with a multi-department team.  Also helpful to have experience manipulating large databases.

Working Conditions: The cost accountant generally works in an office environment, but is expected to be highly familiar with all production operations, and to regularly visit all significant company operations.

Supervises: None

Commentary: Revise the job description to require the cost accountant to have either job costing or process costing experience, depending upon the manufacturing system that the company uses. Also, consider including a requirement to have knowledge of LIFO, FIFO, or standard costing, based on the system that the company is using. If the company operates in one or more foreign locations, consider including a language requirement. Finally, if the position is in an industry that requires considerable knowledge of operations, require that the person have previous experience within the industry.

Related Courses

Accounting for Inventory 
Cost Accounting Fundamentals