Learning Lab Home/Finance/Cost Accounting

Cost Accounting

Courses + Certifications
In partnership With
  • FAQ
  • Courses
  • Certifications
  • Careers
  • Jobs
  • Companies
  • Skills
  • Articles

What is cost accounting?

Cost accounting is an internal accounting method utilized for noting and analyzing all costs involved in the production of goods and services. This allows management teams to have a 360 degree view of the company's production operations, facilitating more informed decision making. Cost accounting is different from financial accounting, which is the process of preparing external financial information.

What are 4 types of costs?
Answer Part 1

Four common types of costs include fixed costs, variable costs, opportunity costs and sunk costs.

Answer Part 2

All costs in business can be categorized for organization and budgetary reasons, including four common categories. Categorizing costs allows for thorough analysis of spending so optimizations can be made to increase the profitability of the business. These four types of costs include:

  • Fixed costs
  • Variable costs
  • Opportunity costs
  • Sunk costs

Fixed costs remain constant despite changes in production or process, such as the costs of salaries of office workers which remain constant despite any changes in production. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs may change based on the number of units produced and include costs like raw materials. Fixed costs and variable costs are unique in that there is no overlap between the two categories.

In addition, opportunity costs are those incurred when one option must be selected over another, such as choosing to manufacture one item over another. Sunk costs are those which are irrecoverable once incurred, such as machinery costs or wasted materials. Fixed and variable costs may also be opportunity costs, sunk costs or both. In addition to these four costs, there are also direct costs and indirect costs of the production process.

What are the methods of cost accounting?
Answer Part 1

Some cost accounting methods include standard costing, direct costing, historical costing, uniform costing and absorption costing.

Answer Part 2

Some techniques used when trying to make managerial decisions through cost accounting include:

  • Marginal costing
  • Standard costing
  • Direct costing
  • Historical costing
  • Uniform costing
  • Absorption costing

Marginal costing is used to help management understand how production can be expanded or contracted while remaining profitable. Changes to variable costs are considered but fixed costs can not be as they do not vary with changes in production. Standard costing compares the costs incurred when developing a product, process or project to its predetermined cost to optimize cost-effectiveness. Direct costing charges all costs incurred when creating a product, process or service directly to the product, process or service, with indirect costs written off as a profit or a loss. Historical costing compares all costs incurred after a process is performed. Uniform costing ensures the same costing processes are utilized across particular units to allow fair comparison. Absorption costing is a full costing method in which all costs are charged to a product, process or project.

What is the cost accounting formula?
Answer Part 1

Several formulas can be used in cost accounting to determine prime cost, conversion cost, the cost of manufactured goods and more.

Answer Part 2

There are many formulas that can be utilized throughout the cost accounting process, allowing accountants to determine the best ways to competently reduce spend without slashing profits. These formulas can be used to determine factors such as prime cost, conversion cost, factory cost, the cost of goods manufactured, and the cost of goods sold.

To determine prime cost, or the aggregate cost of materials, labor and expenses, add the cost of materials consumed to the cost of direct labor (prime cost = direct materials consumed + direct labor.) To determine conversion cost, or the cost of turning materials into finished goods, add the cost of direct materials to factory overhead (conversion cost = direct materials + factory overhead.) To determine factory cost, add the costs of direct materials, direct labor and factory overhead together (factory cost = direct materials + direct labor + factory overhead.) To determine the cost of goods manufactured, one would add the costs of direct materials consumed, direct labor, factory overhead and opening work-in-progress, then subtract the closing work-in progress (cost of goods manufactured = direct materials consumed + direct labor + factory overhead + opening work-in-progress - closing work-in-progress.) Lastly, to determine the cost of goods sold, add the costs of direct materials consumed, direct labor, factory overhead and opening work-in-progress, subtract closing work-in-progress costs, add opening finished goods costs and subtract closing finished goods costs (costs of goods sold = direct materials consumed + direct labor + factory overhead + opening WIP - closing WIP + opening finished goods – closing finished goods.)


Finance Courses to Grow Your Career

In partnership with

Find cost accounting training courses and more expert-led finance training on Udemy.


Learn theory and practical concepts in Cost Accounting and Financial Management with loads of video lectures


What you'll learn:

  • Apply Financial Management…



Process costing system-managerial accounting or cost accounting including equivalent unit calculation & journal entries


What you'll learn:

  • Describe cost…



Learn basic to advanced concepts in Cost Accounting comprehensively


What you'll learn:

  • Understand Basics of Cost Accounting

  • Understand…



Management accounting for managers and students. Learn managerial and cost accounting. #1 accounting course online.


What you'll learn:

  • The best managerial…


Looking to level up your Cost Accounting career? Subscribe to Built In.


Careers Related to Cost Accounting


Latest Finance Jobs


Companies Hiring Finance Experts

All Course + Certification Topics