image source: pexels
Budget analysts are mainly responsible for analyzing budgets, ensuring that resources are efficiently used, and looking for ways to increase the profitability of a company. They help in the identification of budgetary issues and notify the top management. They also make recommendations on new strategies that the organization should use in drafting budgets or using funds. Budget analysts are important as they ensure that the finances of a company are on track.
If this sounds like the career you would like to pursue, it is important to know the educational and certification requirements. You might also be interested in the career outlook and job prospects. This article highlights all that you need to know about becoming a budget analyst as it highlights what they do, the education requirements, job outlook, and salary information.
What Is a Budget Analyst?
Budget analysts help private and public institutions, organizations, or companies to organize their finances. They are mainly involved in preparing budget reports, which allow these entities to keep their finances on track. They also develop financial forecasts using past spending data and current economic trends. This means that budget analysts are essential in reaching the set short-term and long-term financial goals and ensuring that a firm is maintaining profitability and attaining growth.
These professionals work in a variety of industries with companies that may be large or small, including financial firms, healthcare providers, educational institutions, and government agencies.
Duties and Responsibilities
image source: pexels
- Analyzing and interpreting accounting records
- Preparing, maintaining, and analyzing company financial statements including income statements, balance sheets, as well as other financial reports and records
- Working with project and program managers in the development of budgets
- Preparing internal financial management reports, monthly financial metrics reports, and external regulatory reports
- Monitoring how a firm spends its money to ensure that it is within the allocated budget
- Monitoring disbursements, for example, payments reimbursed to vendors and research budgetary allocation and financial usage problems so that they can identify issues, identify viable recommendations, and adopt potential corrections
- Helping CEOs, agency heads, or any other top manager in analyzing proposed plans and finding viable alternatives if they establish that the projected results are not satisfactory
- Conducting research on complex accounting issues and errors so that they come up with viable solutions to financial problems
- Informing program or project managers of the status and availability of funds
- Presenting financial data and progress, as well as the performance metrics information for company presentations, meetings, and briefings
- Estimating future financial needs
Budget analysts are also required to ensure that the bookkeeping, along with other finances comply with company standards, laws, and regulations. They also make recommendations to the management and other stakeholders on how to efficiently use company funds. Some additional duties include monitoring the company spending patterns to reveal variations, preparing annual reports, and providing technical analysis of financial information.
image source: pexels
Successful budget analysts should have a lot of financial knowledge to be able to make accurate financial data and calculations. After looking at the latest data to uncover the in-demand skills for these professionals, we found that employers look for the following skills:
- Communicant skills
- Financial management
- Microsoft Excel
- Financial analysis
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Financial reporting
- Business administration
The listed technical skills are important in this career. However, there are also a handful of other soft skills that make budget analysts more valuable to employers. These include:
- Critical thinking
- Active listening
- Complex problem solving
- Reading comprehension
- Judgment and decision making
According to the BLS, budget analysts had approximately 58,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers were:
- The federal government: about 20% of the jobs
- Educational services (these include state, local, and private): about 15% of the jobs
- State government (BLS excluded hospitals and education): about 11% of the jobs
- Professional, scientific, and technical services: about 11% of the jobs
- Local government (BLS excluded hospitals and education): about 10% of the jobs
Even though most budget analysts typically work in offices, some are required to travel to obtain budget details firsthand or when they need to verify the allocation of funds. Pertaining to the work schedules, they mostly work on a full-time basis. However, they may work overtime when making final reviews of budgetary allocations. In most cases, the pressures of tight working schedules and deadlines are usually stressful for most of the professionals.
Education and Job Requirements
image source: pexels
For you to become a budget analyst, you need to first get the required education. Most of the budget analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, employers prefer hiring professionals with advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree. Since strong analytical and numerical skills are important in this profession, the programs usually encompass coursework in economics, accounting, and statistics.
Local, state, and federal governments have varying requirements, but they mostly require a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields: business, accounting, economics, statistics, public administration, finance, sociology, or political science. In some instances, knowledge acquired from finance related or budget-related work experiences can be substituted for education.
Employers also seek candidates who have strong written and verbal communication skills, as well as those who pay attention to detail. The entry-level positions are very important as they provide opportunities for learning. You can also benefit from taking on additional responsibilities, which will lead to better experience and upward career mobility. This means that from there, it is possible to get career advancement and move to a financial manager or budget manager position, or even a senior budget analyst.
When you work in government institutions, you may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager credential, which is given by the Association of Government Accountants. For you to earn this certification, you must have a relevant bachelor’s degree, 24 credit hours studying financial management, and an additional 2 years of professional experience in a governmental financial position. Besides this, candidates must also pass a series of certification exams. You will also be interested in keeping your certification by taking 80 hours of continuing education after every 2 years.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a budget analyst in May 2017 was about $75,240. The median wage is the salary at which one-half of professionals earn above it and the rest earn below it. The BLS reported that the lowest 10% of budget analysts earned less than $49,540 and the highest paid 10% earned over $113,740.
According to the BLS, in May 2017, the median annual salary for the professionals in the top industries was as follows:
- The federal government: approximately $80,750
- Local government (BLS excluded hospitals and education): approximately $70,550
- Educational services (thee include state, local, and private): approximately $66,680
- State government (BLS excluded hospitals and education): approximately $64,420
The BLS points out that the employment of the analysts is forecasted to grow by about 7% between 2016 and 2026. This trend is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Even though the government faces continued budget cuts, the need for these analysts will remain stable in the public arena. However, there is a possibility for growth at government agencies. The occupation has a steady turn-over rate as budget analysts can move to other better-paying opportunities, which leaves positions that can be filled by entry-level analysts.
However, the demand for these professionals will not diminish. This is because the need for efficient use of public funds at the local, state, and federal levels will lead to the continued demand of these analysts. The BLS reported that in 2016, there were about 58,400 budget analyst jobs. BLS projects that there will be a growth of 7% of the jobs between 2016 and 2026, which translates to about 3,800 new jobs within the same period. Pertaining to the job prospects, the occupation has few job openings so job seekers are more likely to face competition for the few new positions.
image source: pexels
Budget analysts help private and public entities organize their finances and prepare budget reports, which makes it possible to keep finances on track. Their duties include analyzing and interpreting accounting records, preparing, maintaining, and analyzing company financial statements, working with project and program managers in the development of budgets, monitoring how funds are used, informing program or project managers of the status and availability of funds, and estimating future financial needs. The skills they need include accounting, budgeting, communication, financial management, financial analysis, forecasting, reporting, and business administration.
They can work in various sectors including the federal government, educational services, state government, professional, scientific, and technical services, as well as the local government. For you to become a budget analyst, you should first get a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields: business, accounting, economics, statistics, public administration, finance, sociology, or political science. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for a budget analyst in May 2017 was about $75,240 and the employment of the analysts is forecasted to grow by about 7% between 2016 and 2026. We hope this article has adequately addressed what budget analyst do, the education requirements, job outlook, and salary information.