Difference Between Cost Center and Profit Center (With Table)

People often get confused when using terms cost and profit center while talking about the management structure in an organization.

Cost Center vs Profit Center

The difference between Cost Center and Profit Center is that cost center is a subunit or department in an organization that is accountable for adjudging the cost of the organization. Whereas the profit center is a subunit that focuses on maximizing and moderating revenue in the organization. 

Cost centers and profit centers as separate units help the organization to identify and come up with a solution to reduce costs and maximize sales, respectively.

Comparison Table Between Cost Center and Profit Center

Parameter of ComparisonCost centerProfit center
DefinitionCost center is responsible for managing all the costs in an organizationProfit center is responsible for moderating all the revenues in an organization.
PurposeEvaluation of costs helps in minimizing costs in an organization.Revenue reports can help to increase revenue by generating more sales.
Area of operationNarrowWide
Assessment of performanceBy subtracting Actual cost from the standard CostBy deducting the Actual cost from the Budgeted cost.
Role in the organizationLess challengingMore challenging
IntentionCost center only needs to meet the budget of the organization.A profit center is intended to show a return on the investment.

What is the Cost Center?

Cost center helps an organization to evaluate the costs and different ways in which it can reduce them. It is also considered as a subunit or a separate department in an organization.

Although the work is less demanding, the work is crucial for identifying where costs are getting incurred. Cost centers only deplete the resources of the organization without directly contributing to generate revenue.

Remedial solutions are also offered by this department to reduce costs. The costs incurred have to be well within the budget of the organization. Types of cost centers include- personal, impersonal, service, operation, production and production cost centers. Defining a few of the types of cost centers:

  1. Service cost centers: This type of cost centers provide support to the profit center to enable better functioning in an organization.
  2. Production cost centers: This type of cost center helps in the production processes of a company. The advantage of this type of center is how they facilitate processing products. 

What is a Profit Center?

A profit center is an essential subunit in an organization that is responsible for the revenues, profits and costs. Profit centers pose a more demanding job profile yet have a great impact on the organization.

The budgeting, investment, and returns are all calculated from the reports by the profit center. Profit centers have responsibilities specific to the production and sale of goods. Businesses run for the sole purpose of generating profits.

Without profit centers, it will be impossible for the business to survive. Profit centers are backed by cost centers to help generate profits.

There are two types of profit centers:

  1. A subunit in a huge organization: Profit centers can be subunits or strategic units in a huge organization.
  2. A department in an organization: Sales division of a company usually handles the work of a profit center. The sales division is a department under the organization. Therefore it is an example of this type of profit center.

Main Differences Between Cost Center and Profit Center

  1. Profit centers have a wider area of operation than Cost center as they tend to be responsible for revenues, profits, and costs.
  2. The type of work that goes into the cost center is easy as it only involves handling costs. However, handling revenues, profits, and costs is a difficult task for the Profit center when compared to cost centers.
  3. Cost center approaches are short term as the cost incurred by an organization might keep fluctuating with time. As for-profit centers, its approach is both short and long term. It is so because reports regarding the current profit situation can be helpful in making future decisions.
  4. Cost centers help to indirectly generate profits while facilitating the Profit centers, which are directly associated with generating profits.
  5. The performance of a profit center is identified by deducting the actual cost from the budgeted cost. However, the performance of a cost center is estimated by subtracting actual cost from the standard cost.
  6. Cost centers do not participate or facilitate the generation of profits or returns. Cost centers simply give the estimation of the cost incurred. Profit centers give detailed reports of profit, revenue, along with the cost of generating solutions for maximizing sales.
  7. There can be several cost centers in an organization, but there is only one profit center.
  8. Cost centers only track the expenses made by the company, whereas profit centers work to generate profits.


Cost centers and profit centers are both crucial units to any company or business. The report generated by these centers helps the organization to take measures related to money matters.

Separate profit and cost centers are an investment that the small companies don’t usually make. The functionality and advantages of these centers outweigh the money needed to set up these centers.

Without profit centers, cost centers could still generate profits in a company, but it is not true vice versa. The profit center needs the backing of the cost center to generate profits. All the cost centers in an organization are profit centers, but all the profit centers are not cost centers.

To optimize profits, the profit center executives make decisions on operating expenses and product pricing.

Cost center reports are great for internal accounting, which comes under managerial accounting.

Whereas profit center reports are great for internal and external accounting decision-making.

Many huge companies have profit and cost centers. In start-ups and small companies, there are existing departments that handle the work of these centers. Though these departments are not as efficient as separate cost and profit centers, they are economical investments for smaller organizations.