Although they have a retail store, the Pet Smart Corporation also manufactures large volumes of its own products, whereas H&R Block prepares taxes for individual customers. Chili’s prepares food, and its wait staff provides a service, whereas Marshalls sells a variety of products at retail. The batches are a little different, and the manufacturer makes slight adjustments to switch between products. The cost to change machine settings and to move in different materials – such as a different type of fabric – is factored into the overhead cost for each product. In Process costing, the plant is divided into some processes where the production is performed either sequentially, parallelly or selectively.

Job order costing tracks prime costs to assign direct material and direct labor to individual products (jobs). Process costing also tracks prime costs to assign direct material and direct labor to each production department (batch). Manufacturing overhead is another cost of production, and it is applied to products (job order) or departments (process) based on an appropriate activity base.

  1. The accounting emphasis is in keeping records for the individual departments, which is useful for large batches or runs.
  2. The diagram in Figure 8.1 shows a partial organizational chart for sign manufacturer Dinosaur Vinyl.
  3. However, specific cars have custom options, so each individual car costs the sum of the specific parts used.
  4. You can also choose margins for these materials to cover other costs including delivery or clearing costs.
  5. This is best suited for continuous manufacturing settings, such as factories and utility companies.

For example, assume a not-for-profit pet adoption organization has an annual budget of \(\$180,000\) and typically matches 900 shelter animals with new owners each year. Job order costing accumulates costs by job, using job order cost sheets that stay with the inventory as it flows through the production process. Marshalls does not produce a product yet still needs a system to assign overhead costs to the products it sells.


The process costing system is easier for business owners because it’s only necessary to track costs for a particular batch of masks. Job costing, on the other hand, requires business owners to manage multiple (sometimes hundreds or more) individual projects. Much more record keeping is required for job costing, since time and materials must be charged to specific jobs.

The sign is transferred to the finishing department for final materials and labor, before the sign is installed or delivered to the customer. When a company mass produces parts but allows customization on the final product, both systems are used; this is common in auto manufacturing. Each part of the vehicle is mass produced, and its cost is calculated with process costing. However, specific cars have custom options, so each individual car costs the sum of the specific parts used.

The fabric is cut into the correct shape, then each mask is sewn, and then the masks are packaged for shipment. Job costing is used for very small production runs (or even single-unit jobs), and process costing is used for large production runs. A job order costing system also helps you to evaluate the performance of your employees. It not only helps you determine the production cost but also helps in determining the productivity and performance level of an individual employee. Job order costing becomes crucial when customers place orders for different products or services from a particular company or business. Both job order and process costing are used to track costs with a goal of improved cost measurement efficiency.

Process costing handles the same types of manufacturing costs as job order costing. Both systems deal with tracking how manufacturing costs such as direct materials, direct labor, and overhead flow through work-in-process to finished goods and finally, when the goods are sold, to cost of goods sold. As previously mentioned, the two traditional types of costing systems are job order costing and process costing.

Selling and Administrative Expenses

In this example, two groups—administrative and manufacturing—report directly to the chief financial officer (CFO). The organizational chart also shows the departments that report to the production department, illustrating the production arrangement. The material storage unit stores the types of wood used (hickory, maple, and birch), the tips (nylon compare and contrast job-order and process costing systems and felt), and packaging materials. You’ll also learn the concepts of conversion costs and equivalent units of production and how to use these for calculating the unit and total cost of items produced using a process costing system. The chart below shows how various companies choose different accounting systems depending on their products.

Job Costing vs. Process Costing

They differ in how they track and allocate the costs of materials, labor, and overheads. In this article, you will learn how to compare and contrast these two systems and when to use them for different types of production. Regardless of the costing method used (job order costing, process costing, or another method), manufacturing companies are generally similar in their organizational structure and have a similar flow of goods through production. The diagram in Figure 4.2 shows a partial organizational chart for sign manufacturer Dinosaur Vinyl. The CEO has several direct reporting units—Financing, Production, Information Technology, Marketing, Human Resources, and Maintenance—each with a director responsible for several departments. Regardless of the costing method used (job order costing, process costing, or another method), manufacturing companies are generally similar in their organizational structure and have a similar flow of goods through production.

What Kind of Businesses Can Use Job Costing?

As an easy example, think of a tailor who alters, repairs, and makes custom clothes for customers. If a customer orders a custom-made suit, the specific fabric, detail of any special features, and the time involved in sewing are all factors that will determine the total cost and, therefore, the selling price of the garment. Each component of the cost of producing the clothing will be tracked as it occurs, thus improving the accuracy of determining the price. For example, in the case of a mass-produced clothing item, such as jeans, a company like Levi’s will track costs for a batch of jeans rather than for a pair of jeans.

Job costing vs. process costing

For example, a construction company, a consulting firm, or a furniture maker might use this system. In a job order costing system, you identify each job or project as a separate cost object and assign costs to it based on the actual resources used. You can use a job cost sheet or a similar document to record the direct materials, direct labor, and applied overheads for each job. This way, you can track the cost and profitability of each job and provide accurate estimates and invoices to your customers. The management of each business relies on knowing each cost when making decisions, such as setting the sales price, planning production and staffing schedules, and ordering materials.

Hannah also has to keep her staff accountable for using these systems every day because if they don’t, the company can’t track product costs. Though the overhead allocation process is the same, the types of overhead costs differ from one company to the next. ABC clothing for instance allocates the cost to lease its manufacturing facility based on the number of total clothing units produced. Plumbers or carpenters on the other hand have to allocate overhead cost for mileage driven to work for the clients.

Each anticipates or determines unit costs of products being manufactured and/or services being provided prior to year-end. This chapter examines job order costing and demonstrates how it differs from process costing. Process Costing and other costing systems (Activity-Based, Variable, and Absorption Costing) are covered in other chapters.