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Cost Analyst Duties and Responsibilities

Cost analysts work in a variety of industries and organizations. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary, but there are several core tasks associated with the job, including:

Cost Analysis & Testing Cost analysts are responsible for running a large number of tests on company data. They analyze these tests to offer specific answers to problems, such as the most profitable plan for a building project or the cost-effectiveness of current operational activities. They perform deep data analysis to complete a wide variety of math solutions. Their cost analysis includes potential pricing model changes, new business models, and more.

Market Analysis and Research Cost analysts do market research, keeping their eyes on the entire market, studying it deeply. They use financial software to analyze and track organizational expenses. They research the costs of fellow competitors. Leaders expect cost analysts to be aware of the latest industry developments in order to give their company a competitive edge.

Creating Cost Reduction Plans and Reports Every day, cost analysts crunch numbers, write reports, and provide suggestions for money-saving strategies, documenting their findings in written plans. Their reports are essential to creating more cost-efficient processes within businesses. The data they provide can determine whether a business's new undertaking is a yes or a no from a cost perspective.

Lead Cost Management Policy Cost analysts act as a liaison between the accounting department, customers, project engineers, managers, and whoever else might be involved in the finances of an endeavor. They prepare various charts and graphs to help others understand the company's financial status. They provide reviews and comments to ensure the accuracy of expense related documents. Cost analysts also support a business's success by giving senior managers recommendations concerning financial policy and expense management.

Oversee Daily Expenses Many cost analysts perform daily accounting or bookkeeping duties. They may approve and administer invoice payments to outside vendors and suppliers. Costs analysts tabulate daily performance reports, often reviewing these assessments with project stakeholders to monitor costs and keep them in line with the original budget. Depending on the size of the organization, a single analyst can be in charge of all expense monitoring for a company, or conduct analysis for a single project or department.


Cost Analysis Skills and Qualifications

People who are self-motivated and enjoy scrutinizing numbers succeed as cost analysts. Employers typically seek out candidates with a finance or business-related bachelor's degree or an industry-specific degree and the following skills:
  • Statistical data analysis - to interpret company performance data in light of industry statistics
  • Operational analysis - reducing operational costs, including inventory valuation, product costs, overhead and direct labor costs, etc. is a cost analyst's primary responsibility
  • Costing methodology - to determine whether or not a company is properly using its resources
  • Mathematical problem-solving - cost analysts need proven analytical, mathematical, and problem-solving skills to accomplish their job successfully
  • Accounting - basic knowledge of accounting and financial analysis is needed to make cost-benefit analysis decisions
  • Writing skills - analysts must translate complex financial information into simple reports that managers and non-technical employees can easily understand
  • Communication skills - sharing difficult information and shedding light on harsh realities with clarity and tact is a significant part of a cost analysts' job
  • Organizational skills - cost analysts must be able to effectively prioritize many different tasks and sources of data to complete their job

Cost Analyst Education and Training

There are no bachelor's degrees specific to cost analysts. However, employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor's degree with a strong business or financial training, such as finance, accounting, or business administration. Employers in fields such as construction and manufacturing often take candidates with degrees relevant to their industry, such as engineering, construction management, mathematics, or statistics. Employers consider candidates who have familiarity with SAP software and cost methodologies attractive.

Cost Analyst Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the annual median wage for cost estimators as $63,110. The lowest ten percent of workers make less than $37,000. The highest ten percent of workers in this field earn more than $106,060. Employment of cost analysts is expected grow 11 percent through 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations. Business and organizations will continue to need accurate cost predictions to make sure that their operations are profitable.

Helpful Resources

We have provided the list below of career resources, networking events, tools, and tips to help you become more effective in cost analysis regardless of whether you want to work in the public or private sector:

International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association - Join a chapter, learn more, and earn a professional cost analysis certification that provides a strong foundation for your future career.

Cost Analyst: A Clear and Concise Reference - This all-inclusive guide features questions that help strengthen your skills in business process design and identifying where cost analysis improvements can happen.

Strategic Cost Analysis - Learn everything you need to know from this book that answers the four key questions of business analysis.

Financial Management (Barron's Business Library Series) - Discover what you need to master for cost analysis, such as reading financial statements, the time-value of money, making strategic budgeting decisions, etc.

The Cost Analyst's Companion - This book is a convenient go-to guide for practicing cost analysts that will help you approach costing analysis from an economics, physics, technology, math, and statistics standpoint.

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