A career as a cost analyst

Competition between companies is so fierce that to play the game, companies have to manage their costs. Cost management involves not only reducing expenses (direct and indirect), but also making them cost effective with respect to the company’s strategy and objectives. This is why cost management is such a timely notion for companies—because it provides them with a competitive advantage and builds customer loyalty. The profession therefore has a bright future.

DESCRIPTION

Cost analysts analyze and control the various costs related to a company’s direct and indirect expenses.

They either work in the accounting department, in smaller companies, or the finance and control department, in the case of larger businesses.

MAIN DUTIES

  • Develop standard costs
  • Determine the cost of purchased or manufactured products/services
  • Draw up the budget
  • Analyze the variance between costs and standard costs
  • Study and explain corporate performance (e.g. variances, spoiled units, subcontracting)
  • Prepare the forecasted financial statements and analysis reports (management, profitability)
  • Prepare interim statements and reports (IFTA report, tax remittances, source deduction remittances)
  • Supervise audit files
  • Participate in various corporate projects requiring a financial evaluation
  • As required, train certain managers (e.g. production, quality) in good cost management practices

EDUCATION

Cost analysts should have a bachelor of business administration (B.A.A.) degree or the equivalent.

An accounting designation (CPA, CPA,CA, CPA,CMA, CPA,CGA) is a definite advantage, as is work experience in management accounting (operating reports, costs, performance measures).

SKILLS

  • Familiarity with advanced accounting software and cost management software, if possible
  • Proficiency in the use of Microsoft Office suite, more specifically Excel (pivot tables and simple macros)
  • Understanding of database principles (knowledge of Access is often appreciated)
  • Good writing skills

QUALITIES

  • Good analytical skills and ability to see the big picture
  • Team oriented
  • Self-starting, resourceful, organized
  • Ability to manage priorities and meet deadlines
  • Integrity
  • Excellent interpersonal skills

SALARY

Consult Accounting – finance salaries section or use the salary calculator

CAREER PATH

Depending on their skills and interests, cost analysts may become controllers or work in a management capacity in administration, accounting or finance.

2016 Perpectives (sources: Robert Half Report, Statistics Canada 2013)

Demand is steady for skilled cost accountants who can help companies minimize costs by merging accounting and analytical skills in a manufacturing environment.

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