What Is a Budget Analyst? (Duties, Salary and Qualifications)
Updated July 25, 2023
If you have excellent critical thinking skills and enjoy working with numbers, you might have a successful career as a budget analyst. Many companies rely on budget analysts to optimize their operations and ensure financial success and stability. Exploring what a budget analyst does can help you determine if this type of financial career is right for you.
In this article, we explain what a budget analyst is and review all the aspects of a career in budget analysis, including duties, work environment, education, required experience, certifications, skills, salary, job outlook and alternative career paths.
What is a budget analyst?
A budget analyst is a financial expert who reviews budgets and makes recommendations on how to allocate money for projects, departments or entire businesses. Budget analysts can work independently or as part of a team of financial consultants, depending on the scope of their assignments. They keep companies financially healthy by supervising spending, advising on business decisions using budget estimates and managing funding requests.
Budget analysts are important because they keep businesses accountable for how they spend their money, identify areas of waste and track a company's budgeting practices. They also work closely with other departments to identify opportunities for cost savings and make recommendations to improve efficiency. Organizations rely on budget analysts to help manage business growth and changing financial resources over time.
What does a budget analyst do?
Budget analysts track an organization's budget, forecast future costs and approve or reject funding requests. To accomplish these goals, they have several core duties:
Drafting budget proposals
Auditing company budgeting practices
Assessing the cost and benefits of company operations
Researching alternative funding methods
Suggesting budget cuts
Reviewing financial information
Predicting expenditures for upcoming projects
Preparing budget reviews and financial reports
Assisting with the budget development process and budgetary adjustments
Forecasting potential financial outcomes
Receiving, reviewing, and processing funding requests from departments
Monitoring the availability of financial resources
Presenting budget findings to management
Related: How To Manage a Budget
Work environment for budget analysts
Since so many organizations and businesses use experts to manage their finances, budget analysts can work in almost any industry. Budget analysts typically work full-time hours in an office environment where they conduct calculations at a computer and collaborate with their colleagues in business meetings. Government budget analysts may also travel occasionally to meet with officials at various agencies. They can work at financial consulting organizations or in the accounting department at a larger company, or as independent contractors who consult on specific projects.
Budget analyst education
Budget analysts typically need to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. If you're interested in becoming a budget analyst, select an undergraduate major related to finance, like business, accounting, mathematics or economics. While completing your degree program, it's important to take courses in topics that give you a foundation in budgeting and data analysis skills, such as:
Some budget analysts take graduate courses to make their applications more impressive to employers and enhance their financial skills. If you want to increase the likelihood of finding employment, you may also consider earning an advanced degree, such as a master's degree.
Required experience for budget analysts
Some employers may want to hire recent college graduates for budget analyst positions, but many require you to have a few years of relevant experience in business or finance. You can gain work experience to qualify for budget analyst positions by working in financial internships or finding an entry-level job where you work with the budget in some capacity.
If you obtain an internship, you can use this opportunity to improve your practical skills in finance management, data analysis, forecasting and accounting software. The more experience you have managing budgets and conducting financial analysis, the better you may be at analyzing budgets for other companies.
Related: A Complete Guide to Internships
Budget analyst certifications
Having relevant financial certifications can help budget analysts attract attention from hiring managers and demonstrate their growth potential. Some certifications you can consider if you want to become a budget analyst include:
Certified Public Accountant: Being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) demonstrates your ability to interpret, analyze and manage financial information. To obtain licensure, candidates can verify they have a bachelor's degree and industry experience and can use this technical and practical knowledge to pass the CPA exam.
Certified Budget Specialist: If you have a bachelor's degree, two years of experience in budgeting and at least 25 hours of budget management training, you can take the Certified Budget Specialist (CBS) exam. This certification reviews financial ethics and budgeting fundamentals.
Certified Budget Analyst: Once you have five years of experience working with budgets, you can apply for the Certified Budget Analyst (CBA) designation. CBAs show proficiency in specialized budgeting techniques.
Budget analyst skills
Budget analysts are highly skilled financial experts who can apply their technical knowledge to real workplace scenarios. Here's a list of skills that can help individuals in this field fulfill their budget analyst duties:
Budgeting software: To manage complex financial situations, budget analysts use a variety of finance, budgeting and spreadsheet software. Being able to understand the features of budgeting software is essential for anyone who wants to be a budget analyst.
Data analysis: Budget analysts recognize trends in data and properly interpret statistics. Data analysis skills help budget analysts make accurate projections and smart financial recommendations.
Math: Having strong math skills is an important part of being a budget analyst because of how many calculations are involved with balancing a budget. Budget analysts frequently perform quick mental math to guide their calculations and solve complex equations during their analysis.
Critical thinking: Budget analysts use critical thinking to determine the possible outcomes for various budgeting choices. Critical thinking helps budget analysts identify areas of waste and determine strategies for improving a company's budget.
Communication: A core part of a budget analyst's job is presenting financial information to others and convincing them to implement budgeting suggestions, which requires strong communication skills.
Problem-solving: Budget analysts may use problem-solving skills to review budgeting options and analyze a business' spending to identify issues and develop adequate solutions. These skills can help them make positive financial choices on behalf of a company and minimize financial risk.
Financial modeling: To forecast financial outcomes, it's important for business analysts to possess strong financial modeling skills. This can help them use financial data to predict potential outcomes and make well-informed budgeting decisions for an organization.
Budget analyst salary and job outlook
The national average salary for a budget analyst is $70,102 per year. This salary can vary depending on their years of professional-level experience, qualifications, location and type of employer. Budget analysts may increase their earnings by working overtime, especially during tax season or the start of each budget cycle or fiscal year. Their earnings may also depend on whether they have an entry-level budget analyst position or they're a senior member of a company. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for budget analysts will increase by 3% from 2021 to 2031, which is about the national average for all professions. Budget analysts can anticipate job security because of their essential role in managing finances for all types of businesses. They may look for employment opportunities with government agencies, including local governments and the federal government, private companies, and nonprofit organizations.
Alternative career paths for budget analysts
A career as a budget analyst can help individuals prepare for a variety of careers. This role allows individuals to develop transferable skills that enable them to advise businesses about their financial decisions, handle data and use or teach mathematics. Here are some alternative career paths for budget analysts:
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