Budget Analyst: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a budget analyst. Learn about education requirements, employment options, salary potential and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Accounting & Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Budget Analyst?

As a budget analyst, you'll primarily be responsible for the organization and distribution of a company's finances. You'll analyze data and develop reports that can be used to determine funding levels. Other job duties may include monitoring spending, reviewing budget proposals and explaining budget recommendations.

See the table below for key highlights regarding this career.

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree
Training Required Standard on-the-job
Educational Field of StudyAccounting, finance, business administration, economics
Certification RequirementsVoluntary certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% *
Median Salary(2015) $71,590 *

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

A budget analyst determines how to allocate an organization's available and projected funds among different departments and divisions. At the start of a budget cycle, managers provide proposals and financial requirements for the next fiscal year. As a budget analyst, you would be responsible for discerning the feasibility of these proposals. You would then create a budget summary of all departments and proposals for presentation to senior management for their assessment and approval. In the case of a government department, legislators make the final decision.

During the budget cycle, shortfalls may arise in some areas and you may need to make suggestions for spending reductions or reallocation of funds from one department to another. In business, the budget analyst tries to maximize profits by improving functional efficiency. In a non-profit or government organization, you would be more concerned with how efficiently funds are distributed among departments and programs. In a government position, your job may require knowledge of public policy development.

What Level of Education is Required for this Position?

To become a budget analyst, you need a bachelor's degree in order to gain an entry-level position in business or government. However, you could widen your opportunities with a master's degree, as many organizations prefer or require that level of education. Accepted fields of study include accounting, business, finance, economics, public administration, sociology and political science. Regardless of your college major, courses in statistics and accounting can develop your mathematical and analytical skills.

Since about 43% of budget analysts work in government positions as of May 2014, you may wish to become certified as a Government Financial Manager (GFM), a credential offered by Advancing Government Accountability. Once you have obtained a bachelor's degree and two years of professional government finance experience, you need to obtain 24 credit hours of formal study in financial management. Certification is finalized after you pass three examinations. To keep the GFM designation, you must complete a minimum of 80 continuing education hours. Lifelong learning is a component of the profession, even if you choose not to become certified.

Where Would I Work and What Could I Earn?

The highest rates of employment for a budget analyst tend to be in federal, state or local government. While the federal executive branch pays budget analysts higher than the median annual salary, state and local governments tend to pay just below the median annual salary of $71,590, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015 (www.bls.org).

Industries with fewer budget analyst positions but higher salaries include wireless telecommunications carriers and support activities for mining. The BLS projected a 3% rate of employment growth between 2014 and 2024. This rate of growth is slower than average and primarily a result of declining jobs for budget analysts at the federal level.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree, you may also pursue a career as a financial advisor, financial manager or financial analyst. Financial advisors assist clients with developing personal budgets, as well as determining retirement strategies and investment options. Financial managers are typically responsible for managing the finance activities of a business or organization, and may also analyze data and prepare financial reports. Financial analysts provide investment advice to businesses and individuals through studying trends that affect investments and evaluating data.

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