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How to Become a Budget Analyst

Companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and other entities rely on carefully crafted budgets to meet their business and financial objectives. The individuals who are typically responsible for creating and maintaining these budgets are budget analysts. Budget analysts can work in various settings, from Fortune 500 global conglomerates, to local businesses, to community service organizations, and beyond.

business woman working at a desk

Looking into how to become a budget analyst? The position often requires previous job experience, financial and accounting skills, and applicable education such as an online bachelor’s degree in accounting. Here’s a look at the role and responsibilities of a budget analyst. We’ll learn the steps to become one, plus discover estimated salaries and expected job growth for this field.

What Is a Budget Analyst?

Both public and private organizations use budgets to determine how to allocate finances. Budget analysts are critical to helping organizations organize finances, maintain profitability, meet financial objectives, and achieve long-term growth goals.

As the smallest budgeting error can harm an organization’s bottom line, a budget analyst monitors sensitive financial data with highly tuned attention to detail. They adjust and interpret budgets to make sure their organizations are on track with spending and achieve targeted financial goals.

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

Budget analysts’ responsibilities depend on the industry and workplace. They can work for governments, universities, nonprofits, and small and large businesses across all industries.

Budget analysts are involved in various steps of the budgeting process, including analyzing budget proposals, sales and revenue forecasts, expenses and cost of materials, assets, and more. In addition to crunching the numbers, budget analysts:

  • Develop budget reports
  • Monitor spending across an organization
  • Use cost-benefit analysis to review proposed budgets and improve existing ones
  • Advocate for funding requests to stakeholders
  • Track current spending habits while predicting future needs

Budget analysts must have strong interpersonal communication and collaboration skills to work with internal team members and external partners. To build a comprehensive final budget, they often must present their ideas to peers and build consensus among team members who sometimes have conflicting needs.

Budget Analyst Education Requirements

Math and numerical competencies are essential for any budget analyst role. Budget analyst positions also require candidates who are detail oriented and analytical, are strong communicators, and have excellent writing skills. From a technical standpoint, budget analysts should be skilled in the use of spreadsheets, databases, and financial analysis software programs.

Many of these skills can be attained or developed through formal education. Courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful. Often, the minimum educational requirement for budget analysts is a bachelor’s degree. However, educational requirements may differ depending on the position. In some special instances, previous strong work experience in budgeting or related functions can be substituted for the degree requirement.

Budget Analyst Degree

Employers typically prefer candidates who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a math-focused, analytically driven field such as accounting, finance, statistics, or economics. Earning a bachelor’s degree in one of these areas can help candidates secure more competitive employment and higher compensation. Some organizations require their budget analysts to have a graduate degree in a field directly related to budget management, such as accounting or finance.

Attain Certifications

Aspiring budget analysts who are interested in pursuing advanced government positions will likely need additional certification beyond a bachelor’s degree. The Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential, offered by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), is often required. Completion of this certificate demonstrates competency in “governmental accounting, auditing, financial reporting, internal controls, and budgeting at the federal, state, and local levels,” according to the AGA website.

To earn a CGFM credential, budget analysts must:

  • Familiarize themselves with the AGA’s code of ethics
  • Apply and be accepted to the CGFM program
  • Pass three extensive examinations
  • Have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of budgeting or financial management experience in government

After successfully receiving certification, budget analysts must take 80 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their CGFM credential.

Budget Analyst Career Path

Organizations often require budget analysts to have professional experience in finance or budget management, in addition to a bachelor’s degree. This experience can be acquired through relevant internships during college or by serving in budgeting or financing-related roles after graduation. Such roles may include auditor, bookkeeper, accountant, or tax preparation specialist. Required skills or preferred years of work experience will vary depending on the size and scope of the budgetary activity.

Budget Analyst Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 4% job growth for budget analysts from 2018 through 2028, about the same average growth that is projected for all occupations. Budget analysts are essential for both government agencies and businesses that are seeking proper fiscal management and allocation of finances. Demand for budget analysts should remain consistent, according to the BLS.

How Much Does a Budget Analyst Make?

The median annual salary for budget analysts was $76,540 as of May 2019, according to the BLS. Salaries vary depending on the industry, employer, and level of education and experience. Employers value applicants who can demonstrate advanced skills or competencies in areas including forecasting, financial analysis, and data management. Location can also make a difference in earning power. The compensation website PayScale reports that budget analysts in the Washington, D.C. area earn an average of 27.8% more than the national median salary.

Learn More About Budget Analyst Careers

Budget analysts play an important role in meeting an organization’s financial goals while working with partners and team members across departments. Understanding financial structures and solving complex problems are key to the role. A bachelor’s degree in accounting can help students develop the critical accounting skills and knowledge of financial concepts that set them apart from other candidates.

Learn more about Maryville University’s online bachelor’s in accounting degree program and embark on a new career journey today.

Recommended Reading
Business Careers

Accountants: 7 Skills to Master

Blockchain – the Future of Accounting

Sources
Association of Government Accountants, CGFM Certification

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts

Maryville University, “Bachelor’s in Accounting Career Path”

PayScale, Average Budget Analyst Salary