Plant accountants (PA) work as in-house cost accountants to manufacturing plants. Their job responsibilities do differ significantly from general accountants. Based on my experience as a PA or Cost Accountant (CA) , this person is basically a Business Partner (BP) between Finance and Accounting (FA) and plant personnel.
By being a BP you will work with a wide range of different functions. You must be very familiar with the in and outs of each function. Also must fully understand all the business processes going on throughout the plant. I have worked with personnel from Plant floor all the way to the executive level.
My experience includes being very active in the budgeting process, continuous cost improvement projects, capital budgeting, forecasting, heavy ad-hoc reporting requests, and many other projects. Also includes doing the routine Accounting functions needed to be completed. One more note, you must be very tech savy ie Advanced Excel, Access, and be able to work with IT on many projects and requests. You will almost be like a part of IT function.
In most cases this position is a staff level position who has a direct report to the Controller or CFO. Also will have indirect reports to Executive, Sales, Production, Manufacturing, Marketing, and Human Resources. You can see that this position is very critical to the plant. This position along with engineering can actually pay for themselves based on cost saving initiatives.