The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 6% job growth for accountants and auditors from 2018-2028. To take advantage of this growth, students can enter the cost accounting field. Cost accountants help organizations analyze financial information, make decisions, and increase revenue. Although they perform related tasks, cost accountants have different responsibilities than other accounting professionals, such as tax accountants, management accountants, and public accountants.

This guide explores cost accounting salaries and examines the factors that affect earnings. The sections below also cover projected job growth for accountants and include resources for students and professionals.

Learn More About a Career as a Cost Accountant

How Much Do Cost Accountants Make?

Median Salary

You may be asking yourself, "how much does a cost accountant make?" According to PayScale, cost accountants earn an average annual salary of $56,000. However, factors like professional experience, geographic location, education level, and industry impact cost accountant salary potential.

Salary by Experience

As with most professionals, cost accountants tend to earn more as they gain experience in the field. The table below details average salaries for cost accountants at various career stages. According to PayScale, late-career cost accountants earn an average of $16,000 more per year than early-career professionals.

Experience Salary
<1 year $48,000
1-4 years $52,000
5-9 years $60,000
10-19 years $64,000

Salary by Degree

While no degree can guarantee a particular salary or position, advanced degrees often lead to higher earnings. Cost accountants who hold a master's degree tend to earn higher salaries than bachelor's degree holders. The table below illustrates the value of undergraduate and graduate accounting degrees.

Bachelor's Degree

Median Salary: $69,000

Master's Degree

Median Salary: $91,000

Career Path Salaries

The table below includes average salaries for some cost accounting career paths. After gaining experience in an entry-level cost accountant position, professionals often pursue advanced roles with higher pay and increased responsibility. The positions below are a few of the potential advancement opportunities for early-career cost accountants.

Potential Next Step Salary
Senior Cost Accountant $74,000
Accountant $51,000
Senior Accountant $67,000

What Are the Top States for Cost Accountant Pay?

Regardless of industry, geographic location plays a large role in earning potential. For example, professionals working in metropolitan areas with high costs of living often earn higher salaries than those in areas with low costs of living. Additionally, some states have high demand for accountants, which can lead to increased salary potential. Below are some of the top states for cost accountants.

  • Washington, D.C.

    Annual Mean Wage: $96,880

  • New York

    Annual Mean Wage: $95,430

  • New Jersey

    Annual Mean Wage: $91,400

  • Virginia

    Annual Mean Wage: $84,740

  • California

    Annual Mean Wage: $83,540

What Are the Top Industries for Cost Accountant Pay?

Although earning potential varies, nearly all industries need accountants to analyze financial information and prepare documents. Salaries for cost accountants vary by industry, and students should consider the industry in which they plan to work when choosing a major. The chart below details the top industries for cost accountants.

Industry Annual Mean Wage
Other Pipeline Transportation $98,400
Federal Executive Branch $98,300
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities $94,570
Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil $91,170
Natural Gas Distribution $90,980

Are Cost Accountants In-Demand?

Historical Career Growth

The overall state of the U.S. economy impacts employment for accountants. Job opportunities for cost accountants increase in times of economic growth, while economic slumps lead to a drop in demand for these professionals. The next sections answer the question: Are cost accountants in demand today?

Future Career Growth

The BLS projects employment for accountants and auditors to increase 6% from 2018-2028. As businesses become increasingly global, companies need accountants who can assist with international trade and mergers. Demand for accountants also rises as more companies go public; these businesses hire accountants who understand complicated tax codes.

Top States for Job Growth

While the overall job outlook for cost accountants is positive, job growth varies by state. Accountants should consider working in areas with growing opportunities for professionals in the field. The table below includes the top states for cost accountants in terms of projected job growth.


32.7% Change from 2016-2026


24.8% Change from 2016-2026


24.7% Change from 2016-2026


23.6% Change from 2016-2026


20% Change from 2016-2026

How Do Cost Accountants Compare to Other Accounting Careers?

The average salary for a cost accountant is well above the national median salary of $38,640 per year, according to the BLS. Many other accounting professionals earn salaries comparable to or above those of cost accountants. For example, tax accountants earn an average salary of $56,373 per year while certified public accountants earn an average of $65,032 annually, according to PayScale.

The average salary for a cost accountant is well above the national median salary of $38,640 per year, according to the BLS.

In addition, some finance careers exhibit higher job growth potential than accounting. The BLS projects personal financial advisor positions to increase 7% from 2018-2028 and management analyst jobs to grow 14% during the same time frame. The BLS projects job opportunities for accountants to grow more rapidly than those for budget analysts.

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Learn More About Cost Accountant Salaries and Job Growth

  • BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook provides information about various professions, including those in accounting, finance, and business. The government-run site publishes information about career growth, salaries, and job responsibilities.
  • BLS Occupational Employment Statistics This BLS resource includes additional data on the accounting profession. Website visitors can explore accounting salaries and employment figures across industries, states, and metropolitan areas.
  • PayScale PayScale maintains an extensive database of salaries for many occupations. Users can compare accounting salaries and learn about popular accounting career paths.
  • Projections Central Projections Central, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides access to local and national employment projections for many professions. The website offers short-term and long-term projections for accountants across the country.
  • National Society of Accountants NSA is a professional organization that supports accountants through education, events, and publications. The association provides information about trends in the field and offers resources on the fees accountants charge.