Cost accounting managers play an integral role in a company’s financial operations. They assist in decision-making by establishing budgets and tracking costs of various processes and departmental activities. Cost accounting managers work on internal documents, rather than financials for public review, so success in this field requires strong general business skills in addition to accounting expertise. Embarking on a career as a cost accounting manager can begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in business administration program with a specialization in accounting.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of accountants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations in coming years. Factors driving an increased demand for accountants, including cost accounting managers, include an improving economy, an increasingly sophisticated global business platform and new standards of asset valuation. Cost accounting managers with advanced education and certification should enjoy the best prospects.

Cost Accounting Manager Job Duties

Cost accounting managers typically report to the chief financial officer (CFO) or director of finance, and work for companies of all sizes in a broad range of industries. Responsibilities include budgeting, recording and analyzing company financial information, and tracking department or product expenditures.

As part of the management team, cost accounting managers help with strategic planning and making decisions regarding the direction of the business. Executive management depends on the accuracy of a cost accounting manager’s financial analysis to ensure sound decisions. Cost accounting managers may also be involved in guiding the development of new products and services.

Preparing financial information for stockholders, creditors, regulators, and state, local and federal tax authorities is also part of a cost accounting manager’s job. Individuals in this role might also supply monthly forecasts of key data, spending, production, inventory and variances. Frequently, these professionals monitor and report costs of materials, goods sold and services provided, and ensure proper internal controls on expenditures.

Cost accounting managers usually work in an office setting. Those employed by regional, national or global firms may be required to travel to satellite plants or offices. A 40-hour week is typical.

Cost Accounting Manager Potential Salary

National salary data on PayScale.com indicate that on average, cost accounting managers had an annual income between $58,685 and $91,603 as of September 2010. Recent bachelor’s graduates will typically start out toward the lower end of the range. The top salaries generally go to cost accounting managers with experience, advanced education and certification.

Education and Training

Most cost accounting manager jobs require a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting or business administration. Previous experience is attractive to many employers, and can be obtained through summer jobs or internship programs while pursuing a degree. Some employers prefer to hire candidates that hold certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Advanced positions with higher starting salaries may require a graduate degree, such as an MBA with a specialization in accounting and finance.

A successful cost accounting manager career can begin with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in accounting. Coursework typically includes principles of accounting, cost accounting, auditing and strategic management.

Employers can be confident that graduates of a business administration program with a specialization in accounting are able to:

  • Apply quantitative techniques to problem-solving.
  • Practice the fundamentals of cost accounting.
  • Recognize the principles of internal auditing.
  • Demonstrate management skills such as staff development, leadership and principles of control.
  • Leverage advanced skills and knowledge to succeed as a cost accounting manager.

Many employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use tuition assistance to further your education.

The Path to a Cost Accounting Manager Career

Becoming a cost accounting manager may be a great career choice if you possess the ability to work independently, grasp complex financial data and think critically. Other important attributes are excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as good organizational and follow-up skills. If this sounds like a good fit for your abilities and interests, a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in accounting can pave the way to a fulfilling cost accounting manager career!

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