Budget Analyst Career Overview

| Kathleen Swed Updated on August 2, 2022

Budget Analyst Career Overview

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Often working in government and educational services, budget analysts oversee organizational budget plans. These professionals collaborate with executives and department heads to set budget priorities and avoid overspending.

Most budget analysts begin their careers with a bachelor's degree in an area like finance or public administration. With an MBA in finance, budget analysts can develop the skills they need to advance in the field. Many analysts also earn certified government financial manager (CGFM) credentials.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 5% for budget analysts from 2020-2030. This number lags slightly behind the projected 8% for all occupations. However, the BLS cites consistent need for public spending oversight, suggesting a stable outlook for a career as a finance budget analyst.

On this page, readers can find information about careers in finance as a budget analyst, including duties, salary potential, and necessary skills.

Navigate This Page: Day in the Life | Key Skills | Budget Analyst Salary | How to Become a Budget Analyst | Top Locations | Resources

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

Budget analysts help plan, develop, and oversee organizational budgets. They work with managers across their organizations, collecting budget proposals from department heads and program managers. They also present organization-wide budget recommendations to executive managers.

Because budget analysts often work in the public sector, their work ensures that government offices use tax dollars efficiently.

Budget analysts need to balance the proposals they receive across the whole company. They must maintain good communication with organizational leaders. Sometimes, they may need to remind managers about spending limits, or work with them to reallocate funds.

Because budget analysts often work in the public sector, their work ensures that government offices use tax dollars efficiently.

Other important responsibilities for budget analysts include checking spending reports, researching regulations, and evaluating shifting budget needs throughout the year.

A Day in the Life of a Budget Analyst

Most budget analysts work full time, and their duties often change depending on the time of year. Quarterly, mid-year, and end-of-year deadlines can mean shifting tasks during busier periods. During certain months, budget analysts focus on collecting budget proposals and drafting recommendations.

Budget analysts tasks include program reviews, fund reallocation, and oversight. To make sure their organizations follow applicable laws, analysts also need to stay up-to-date on regulatory changes.

Budget analysts who work in public offices may report to legislators or prepare information to update taxpayers on various initiatives.

Key Soft Skills for a Budget Analyst

Communication: Budget analysts must communicate clearly both orally and in writing. They deliver instructions, explain their findings, and collaborate with managers as a regular part of their job. Analysis: Budget analysts use critical thinking to analyze their organization's past spending and determine how to allocate future funds. They also need to watch current budgets. Organization: Because they handle both departmental and organization-wide records, budget analysts need good organizational skills to keep track of information. Attention to Detail: Working with complex financial records requires budget analysts to pay attention to detail so they can catch any errors.

Key Hard Skills for a Budget Analyst

Accounting: Budget analysts apply accounting principles when developing company budgets. They also need to watch the market, which requires knowledge of economics. Administration: Budget analysts take part in organizational leadership and strategic planning. They need to understand key management principles, such as efficient use of resources. Software: For budget analysts, important technology includes software for accounting, financial analysis, and presentations. Math: Budget analysts use arithmetic, algebra, statistics, and calculus in their daily work. They need strong math skills to excel in the field.

Budget Analyst Salary and Career Path

According to the BLS, budget analysts earned a median annual salary of $78,970 as of 2020. Various factors can impact how much budget analysts make. Experience and education often play a part in salary potential.

Likewise, certain specializations pay higher salaries. As of 2020, budget analysts working for the federal government earned a median annual salary of $86,480. Analysts specializing in educational services, however, earned a median $67,800.

Aspiring budget analysts can also expect salaries to vary by geographical area. The sections below discuss some of the top-paying locations and industries in the field.

How to Become a Budget Analyst

Budget analysts usually need a bachelor's degree. Employers often look for majors related to business, public administration, or finance. A bachelor's degree takes four years to complete.

While not required to begin a budget analyst career, CGFM credentials can help analysts advance in their field. To qualify, budget analysts need a bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience. Certification candidates must also agree to an ethical code and pass three examinations.

Employers often look for majors related to business, public administration, or finance.

Budget analysts can take other paths to their chosen career. Job-seekers with experience in budgetary or finance positions may sometimes bypass the degree requirement.

An MBA in finance can help students without bachelor's-level finance experience qualify for budget analyst roles. Because the budget analyst job requires strong managerial skills, the MBA can be a particularly useful choice. With a master's degree, budget analysts can also seek out advancement opportunities.

Where Can I Work as a Budget Analyst?

Budget analysts can work across many industries. Top-employing industries include the federal executive branch, state and local government, and education. While these fields trend toward public service, other companies also hire budget analysts.

According to the BLS, the highest-paying industries for budget analysts include information services; software publishing; and professional, scientific, and technical services. As of 2020, the BLS reports an annual mean salary of $89,860 for budget analysts working for the federal executive branch. Analysts employed in information services made a mean annual salary of $100,520.

Budget analysts also earn varying salaries depending on where they work and live.

Top Locations for Budget Analysts

Location matters when it comes to budget analyst salaries. Budget analysts in the District of Columbia made an annual mean salary of $104,330 as of 2020. With the federal executive branch concentrated in the D.C. area, this makes sense. Nearby, Maryland and Virginia follow the District of Columbia with $97,390 and $97,020 respectively.

The top-employing states for budget analysts include California, Texas, and Virginia. Budget analysts in Virginia earned an annual mean salary of $97,020 as of 2020. In California, they made $93,610, while analysts in Texas earned $79,200.

Aspiring budget analysts should remember to compare salaries with the cost of living in these states.


Resources for Budget Analysts

Joining a professional association can help both current and aspiring budget analysts. These organizations provide benefits like networking opportunities and professional development resources. Members can also receive job search support and attend events.

Professional Organizations for Budget Analysts

AABPA's membership includes government managers and analysts, executives, and academics. The association offers several industry publications, regular events, and online webinars.

Specializing in career assistance, AAFA connects employers, recruiters, and workers. Members enjoy access to a searchable job database and a large professional network.

AGA caters to finance professionals in the government, nonprofit, and academic sectors. Membership benefits include access to local chapters, national training events, and free online training.

NASBO focuses on developing best practices for state budget officers. The association provides regular publications, job postings, and a database of state revenue forecasts.

Frequently Asked Questions about Budget Analysts

What is a finance budget analyst?

Budget analysts plan, develop, and monitor organization-wide budgets. They also ensure that their organization adheres to relevant regulations. Many professionals in the field hold public sector jobs.

How do I become a budget analyst?

Budget analysts usually need a bachelor's degree in a subject like finance or business. They may also enter the field through an MBA in finance or by gaining work experience. To earn certified government financial manager credentials, analysts need a bachelor's degree.

Is a budget analyst a stressful job?

At certain times of year, budget analysts must meet tight deadlines. These professionals also need to communicate and negotiate with colleagues. They may sometimes need to deny proposed budget changes.

What is a budget analyst's salary?

According to the BLS, budget analysts earned a median annual salary of $78,970 as of 2020. Salary potential varies by education, experience, industry, and location.


Featured Image: Westend61 / Getty Images

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