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How to Become a Cost Accounting Manager: Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a cost accounting manager. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in accounting. View article »

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Become a Cost Accounting Manager

As part of a specialized field of accounting, a cost accounting manager is responsible for supplying the senior management of a company with information required to make financial decisions in the best interests of the company. Because a cost accounting manager frequently reports directly to upper management, written and verbal communication skills are very important. Travel might be required, and overtime hours might be necessary at certain times of the year.

Career Requirements

A cost accounting manager needs to have a college education and sometimes licensure as well. Analytical, organizational and communication skills, as well as an attention to detail and a knowledge of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are typically required. Payscale.com reported in January 2016 that cost accounting managers made a median annual wage of $79,058.

Cost Accounting Manager Job Steps

There are some specific steps you can take to become a cost accounting manager. Let's now go through each one in detail.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Individuals pursuing a career in accounting usually need an aptitude for general mathematics and statistics, as well as the ability to take facts and figures and quickly interpret, compare and analyze the data. Getting a job in cost accounting management usually requires a degree in either accounting or some other business-related field, and a bachelor's degree is typically the minimal educational requirement to obtain an entry-level position in accounting or finance. Related programs, such as the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Accounting and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a major in accounting, are the most common accounting degrees available in colleges and universities.

Step 2: Gain Professional Experience

Most individuals begin their careers as entry-level public accountants, internal auditors and cost accountants. Work experience will help an aspiring cost accounting manager advance in the field of accounting and is required to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in some states.

Step 3: Become Licensed

Accountants who file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must be licensed as CPAs. Designation as a CPA, in most states, usually requires a bachelor's degree plus at least another 30 hours of college credits. Many universities offer a special 5-year program to meet the CPA requirement, although a master's degree is not required.

It's important to note some employers do prefer applicants with a graduate degree, such as a master's degree in accounting. These programs include courses that help develop management skills and cover advanced topics in operations, finance and business ethics.

Step 4: Obtain Employment as a Cost Accounting Manager

Cost accounting is a specialized field typically used to provide information so a company can make decisions that will benefit stockholders. A cost accounting manager is responsible for garnering and providing financial information to company executives for use in planning and decision-making. Available positions can be found in a variety of industries in settings such as administrative offices or payroll services departments.

If licensed, it's important to also keep your CPA license current. CPAs are required to complete continuing education (CE) in most states. The specific number of CE credits can vary by state.

Step 5: Obtain Professional Certification

Becoming certified in specialized fields of accounting can often raise a worker's chances of employment and advancement. For accountants, there are several national organizations that offer certification, such as the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The IMA offers the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential, which has requirements that include a bachelor's degree and experience.

To review, a cost accounting manager needs a bachelor's degree in accounting or another business-related field, and CPA licensure is necessary for those who report to the SEC.

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