You probably have a budget that helps you manage your personal or household spending. A written budget can help you organize your finances, keep track of money coming in and going out and hopefully reach better financial health. Just as individuals and households use budgets to keep track of income, expenses and spending, so do institutions, companies and organizations. Managing the budget of a big agency or organization can be a full-time job – and that job is exactly what a budget analyst does.
Budget analysts find employment in all kinds of workplaces. About one in five work for the federal government, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Another 12 percent find jobs in state government agencies, while a smaller number find roles in local governments. Other major industries that employ budget analysts include manufacturing, education and professional services.
Regardless of their industry, budget analysts have many common responsibilities. They have a hand in developing realistic budgets to begin with, collaborating with management. Budget analysts evaluate budget proposals from a wide variety of departments to make sure nothing is missing or incorrect, and they synthesize those individual proposals into one cohesive budget for the entire agency, institution, business or organization. When funding proposals come in, budget analysts are the ones who assess whether funding is deserved and available and make recommendations to the organization’s leaders. It’s a budget analyst’s job to ensure that the organization doesn’t spend more than is budgeted, to prepare budget and spending reports and to keep finances organized. To accomplish this, they use cost-benefit analyses, financial research and analyses of past data.
A college education is essential for a career as a budget analyst. However, candidates have plenty of options when it comes to choosing their educational path. Among the most popular bachelor’s degree programs for aspiring budget analysts are accounting, business, economics, finance, political science, public administration, sociology and statistics, the BLS reported. These degrees are generally accepted by a wide range of potential employers, including entities at the state and local government level. Regardless of which major a student chooses, it’s a good idea to take plenty of accounting and statistics courses so that candidates can build their skills numerical and analytical skills, according to the BLS.
A bachelor’s degree is the standard requirement for attaining an entry-level budget analyst position, but it’s not the end of formal education, especially for ambitious candidates. Certain employers may seek candidates who hold a master’s degree, and the advanced education can also help workers advance their careers and attain intermediate and senior budget analyst roles. Even among budget analysts who don’t wish to pursue a graduate degree, continuing education is typically a requirement for achieving and maintaining professional certifications like the Certified Government Financial Manager credential.
Budget analysts earn a median salary of $69,280, according to the BLS. While the job outlook for budget analysts isn’t stellar, with the BLS expecting slower than average growth at a rate of just six percent, newcomers to the field may actually have an easier time finding opportunities than experienced professionals. Often, experienced budget analysts use their versatile skills to advance and transition into other roles in business and finance, like financial analyst, where they can earn higher salaries.
Budget analysts are the business and financial professionals who make sure businesses, institutions, organizations and government agencies set and stick to budgets and organize their finances effectively.