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The lowdown

Cost accountants collect, assimilate, collate and analyse all financial information related to an organisation. Their main role is to ensure that managerial decisions are within cost prescriptions. They need to give a prognosis for proposed projects based on past and current financial performances. To do this, a cost accountant has to consider factors such as the cost of raw materials, labour, transport and overheads, among others. His/her responsibilities include designing and implementing effective management information and control systems, planning costing systems and methods, inventory control incorporating mathematical models, investment analysis, project management, internal audit, cost audit, diagnosis of sick industries, fund management, pricing planning etc


The average day of a cost accountant: 

10am: Check mail. Go for an introductory meeting with a client at her office. Get introduced to client’s key officials. Discuss scope of work and audit, and set deadline for completing audit. Get brief introduction to client’s manufacturing and service facilities and the type of software  used. Return to client’s office

2pm: Lunch 
2.30pm: Return to office and make audit formats with inputs  from the client 
4pm: Coffee break 
4.15pm: Shoot off e-mails to client with first-cut observations, ask for more details about process flows and how the entire system works 
6.30pm: Pack up for the day

The payoff

The salary of fresh CWAs can be more than Rs6 lakh a year at the entry level. With experience, as one reaches middle level management, it can go as high as R15 lakh a year. After that, as you progress in your career, the sky is the limit as far as the growth prospects and monetary aspects are concerned.


1. Good with accountancy, should have quantitative aptitude and interest in finance
2. Sharp analytical skills 
3. Should have good communication skills  (both written and oral)
4. A strong sense of ethics
5. Should be a team player
6. Should enjoy working with numbers
7. Should be hard working and patient with people
8. A good personality will be an added advantage

Getting there

After passing Class 12, complete ICWAI (Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) coaching and enrol for the institute’s foundation course. However, graduates, postgraduates as well as gazetted officers are exempted from the foundation course and they can straightaway register for the next level, which is  the intermediate course and takes at least 18 months to complete. Students need to then do the 18-month final course. 

The final course includes computer training, and audit/industrial training. Students can simultaneously pursue the BCom programme with ICWAI’s foundation/ intermediate course and MCom with the final course. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), London, recognises the CWA qualification and exempts students from some of its papers. Australia and Canada, too, recognise the credential. ICWAI also offers a one-year certificate in accounting technicians (CAT), particularly targeted at village youth. Those completing the CAT can upgrade to the CWA qualification

Institutes and URLs  

1. Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India, headquartered at Kolkata, with four regional centres  

2. Indira Gandhi National Open University (offers special BCom and MCom programmes for ICWAI enrolees)

Pros and cons

1. A very niche job
2. Great salary
3. Enough scope for independent practice
4. Hard work leaves you with little time for yourself

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