Inventory Accountant Job Description
Inventory accountants, also known as cost accountants, are experts regarding the costs associated with producing and storing inventory. Every business that has a physical inventory needs an inventory accountant at least once a year, so they can find employment in virtually any industry. Large corporations with multiple retail locations around the country may employ in-house inventory accountants, but most work for cost accounting firms and juggle multiple clients across different industries. This position is not the standard office accounting job. Inventory accountants spend most of their time at the client location orchestrating and overseeing the inventory process. It is a salaried position, but it requires strange hours as inventory has to be conducted outside of normal business hours.
Inventory accountants have a lot of independence. While they are responsible for presenting inventory reports to their supervisors, they don’t have a supervisor on-site to oversee inventory counts.
Inventory Accountant Duties and Responsibilities
There are many tasks one must complete to monitor the costs of assembling, maintaining, and selling a client’s inventory, including the following:
Maintain General Ledger
Inventory accountants oversee every transaction and add it to the client’s general ledger. This includes customer transactions as well as the purchases made in the manufacturing process.
Regularly Generate and Analyze Inventory Reports
Inventory accountants use accounting software to pull regular reports on either a daily or weekly basis, depending on their employer’s preference. They analyze these inventory reports to make sure there are no discrepancies or variances.
Monitor Cost of Raw Materials and Production
Other accountants can’t determine the price and desired profit margins of products without the work of inventory accountants. They keep meticulous records of how much is spent acquiring raw materials and producing them into finished products.
Diagnose the Cause of Inventory Variance
When inventory accountants notice discrepancies, they become detectives determined to find the root cause of the issue. They are often the ones who uncover internal theft.
Lead Physical Inventory Counts for Clients
Publicly traded companies are required by law to conduct an inventory audit under the guidance of an inventory accountant at least once a year. Inventory accountants create a plan for each inventory audit and work with the client’s management team to implement said plan.
Create and Archive Monthly Journal Entries
Inventory accountants use enterprise resource planning or data management software to create and archive monthly journal entries that provide a snapshot of all notable analysis that happened throughout the month.
Inventory Accountant Skills and Qualifications
Inventory accountants must be able to maintain sharp focus for long periods of time and have a passion for numbers to do their jobs well. Here is a list of the skills employers of inventory accountants look for in candidates:
- Mastery of GAAP – all accountants master the generally accepted accounting principles and apply them when performing their duties
- Mastery of Excel – inventory accountants use Excel to perform calculations and functions related to inventory analysis
- Mastery of accounting software – accounting software is used by inventory accountants to keep track of invoices for manufacturing and production processes
- Analytical skills – inventory accountants call upon their analytical skills to find areas to reduce costs and improve loss prevention efforts
- Attention to detail – persistence and a strong attention to detail is required to find and address inventory variances
- Organizational skills – when conducting physical inventory counts, inventory accountants summon their organizational skills to get everything done as accurately as possible
Inventory Accountant Tools of the Trade
Here are a couple different types of software used by inventory accountants:
- Spreadsheet software (Excel)
- Accounting software
- Enterprise resource planning software
Inventory Accountant Education and Training
Inventory accountants need a bachelor’s degree in accounting to find employment. Coursework includes cost accounting, financial accounting, generally accepted accounting principles, ethics, and other related topics.
There are no specific certification requirements to get a job as an inventory accountant, but those looking to ascend to management or start their own firm must first pass the CPA exam. The exam is broken into four separate sub exams and is widely considered the most rigorous professional certification process.
Inventory Accountant Salary and Outlook
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for inventory accountants is $52,898. Those at the bottom of the scale make $36,000, while those at the top make $69,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for accountants and auditors, which includes inventory accountants, is predicted to rise 10 percent through 2026.
Inventory Accountant Helpful Resources
Here is a list of resources curated for those looking to learn more about becoming an inventory accountant:
National Society of Accountants – This organization provides a slew of resources for members. They have trade publications, digital webinars, and in-person professional development workshops.
Cost Accounting Fundamentals – This book covers all of the essential concepts an inventory accountant needs to know to navigate the profession successfully.
American Accounting Association – Founded in 1916, the American Accounting Association is one of the oldest professional organizations for accountants. Its prestige provides great career growth opportunities.
Accounting for Inventory – This book conducts a deep dive on the techniques and concepts specific to accounting for inventory.
American Institute of Certified Professional Accountants – This is the organization that administers the CPA examination. Although CPA certification isn’t required to obtain employment as an inventory accountant, it is required for those who aspire to make partner at their firm someday.
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