What Is a Budget Analyst? Everything You Need to Know About This Number-Crunching Career
You’re the go-to numbers-person for everyone, from your family to your boss. They know that if you can’t get a budget whipped into shape, then no one can. Every now and then you wonder if your financial skills could be applied to more than just the weekly grocery budget, but a career as a budget analyst has remained a mystery to you.
What if it turns out you don’t like the day-to-day job duties, or if a budget analyst salary isn’t enough to tempt you away from your current job? You’ve come to the right place. We’re unravelling all the details of a career as a budget analyst so you can make the right calculation about whether this should be your next job title.
Keep reading for our breakdown of everything you need to know about a career as a budget analyst.
Just like the job title suggests, budget analysts help organizations big and small stay on track with their finances by maintaining a balanced budget. They help to keep company finances organized by running regular financial reports, collaborating with executives about funding needs and assessing budget decisions about special programs or one-time expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1
These expert number-crunchers aren’t just focused on past and current spending. They also help organizations plan for the future and assess the pros and cons of making large purchases. Though they typically don’t make final spending decisions, their recommendations are a valuable asset for company leaders.
You might be surprised to learn that budget analysts aren’t tied to calculators and spreadsheets all day. They cover a wide range of daily job duties that allow them to best serve their organization through both calculation and collaboration.
These are some of the job duties you can expect to encounter as a budget analyst, according to the BLS:
- Work with managers to develop program and department budgets
- Review budget proposals for accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations
- Prepare regular financial reports and analyze data
- Use data to make spending and planning recommendations to organization leaders
- Help organization leaders develop alternate solutions if the recommended plans or budgets don’t meet the company’s needs
- Monitor company spending
- Plan for future expenses
As you’d suspect, a successful budget analyst requires plenty of financial know-how to make accurate calculations. We looked at the latest real-time data to uncover the in-demand skills employers are seeking in candidates for budget analyst positions2:
- Microsoft Excel
- Financial management
- Financial analysis
- Financial reporting
- Business administration
- Microsoft PowerPoint
Though technical skills like these are vital for this career, there are also a handful of soft skills that make budget analysts even more valuable to their employers. Take a look at this list of soft skills from U.S. Department of Labor to see if you might already have qualities that fit the bill of a successful budget analyst3:
- Active listening
- Reading comprehension
- Critical thinking
- Complex problem solving
- Judgment and decision making
Organizations in virtually every industry require the forecasting and balancing skills of a budget analyst. The BLS reports that 20 percent of budget analysts worked for the federal government in 2016, with the rest being spread across industries as varied as education, professional services and both private and public organizations.
Most budget analysts work in a standard office environment as full-time employees. They may typically be required to work overtime during certain seasons, such as at the end of a company’s fiscal year. Budget analysts should be able to meet deadlines year-round, so their organization has time to analyze reports and prepare for the future.
The median annual salary for a budget analyst in 2016 was $73,840, according to the BLS.1 Those in professional, scientific or technical services stand to earn even more, with their average being $81,550. The top ten percent of earners with this job title as a whole topped out at more than $111,460.
The job outlook for this career is also bright, with the BLS projecting a 7 percent increase in employment from 2016 through 2026. That’s keeping pace with the national average for all job growth, with a total of nearly 4,000 new budget analyst jobs being added by 2026.
The BLS suggests that most budget analysts hold a Bachelor’s degree, and our research agrees. Our analysis of budget analyst job postings reveals that 80.7 percent of budget analyst job postings were seeking candidates with a Bachelor’s degree. However, there are some options when it comes to choosing a degree. The BLS reports that both Finance and Accounting degrees can prepare you with the skills you’ll need as a budget analyst.
Budget analysts who work in the government after earning their Bachelor’s degree also have the option of earning an additional certification called the Certified Government Financial Management credential, which is offered through the Association of Government Accountants to candidates who complete requirements in education, experience and continuing education.
If all of this information is adding up to you making a move toward a career as a budget analyst, your next step is to choose the degree program that will help you get there. Learn more about finding the best option for you in our article, “Finance vs. Accounting: Which Degree Is Right for You?”
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed April 4, 2018] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
2 Burning-Glass.com (Analysis of 4,958 budget analyst job postings Mar. 01, 2017 – Feb. 28, 2018)
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [career information accessed April 4, 2018] www.bls.gov/oes/.