Budget Analysts allocate financial resources. By developing budgets, they estimate financial needs for private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. In the private sector, budget analysts examine budgets, improve efficiency, and work diligently to increase profits. In the nonprofit organization, budget analysts determine the best method for distributing resources efficiently among departments and organizational programs. As part of their overall duties, budget analysts also influence decisions that concern performance evaluation, policy adoption and analysis, and budget legislation drafting. They conduct training sessions and implement new budget procedures. The career outlook is great for recent graduates who want to work more closely with budget and policy analysis. Budget Analysts are typically employed in manufacturing; management services; professional, scientific, and technical services; and schools.
Budget Analyst Job Responsibilities
Analysts review operational and financial proposals submitted by managers and department heads. The proposals outline the organization’s programs and they provide an estimate of financial need. Analysts review the proposals to check for accuracy and conformance to corporate policy and procedures and federal regulations. They employ financial models such as “cost-benefit analyses” and explore alternative funding options.
After this initial review, budget analysts summarize budget figures by consolidating individual department budgets. After the consolidation process, analysts submit the operational and capital budget summaries to senior management, or in some cases to government and elected officials. The analyst provides help to the chief operating officer by proposing a plan and/or devising other financial alternatives.
Budget Analysts also monitor the budget. They review reports and accounting records. They determine if allocated funds have been spent procedurally according to policy. When variations occur, analysts submit a report and recommend alternative procedures. When deficits occur, analysts recommend program cuts and reallocate excess funds.
To perform their daily duties, budget analysts use the following tools: a spreadsheet, database, and financial analysis software. Although they typically work in a comfortable office setting, analysts may easily exceed the forty-hour work week during mid-year reviews and final budget reviews. They are typically required to work at least a fifty-hour work week under strict time constraints.
Budget Analyst Training and Education Requirements
A bachelor’s degree is typically required for entry-level budget analysts. Some organizations require a master’s degree in a specialized field of study that includes coursework in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics. Budget Analysts must have strong numerical, mathematical, and analytical skills. They must have some budget-related work experience. Where budget analysts lack in experience, they can substitute experience with finance-related coursework.
Budget Analysts endure a one-year, complete budget cycle to familiarize themselves with the budget process. They take professional development coursework and adhere to strict ethical standards. They avoid personal conflicts of interest. They have strong oral and written communication skills.
Budget Analyst Salary and Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for budget analysts in May 2008 was approximately $65,000. Fifty percent earned between $52,000 and $82,000. In the same year, an entry-level analyst earned approximately $42,000. The highest ten percent of analysts earned $100,000. Budget Analysts who worked in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry earned slightly higher than those who worked in management services, with aerospace analysts capping at $70,830 and analysts in management services earning $70,460. For the year 2009, the average salary for those analysts employed with the federal government was $80,000.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Budget Analyst Certifications
Companies and the federal government typically do not require budget analysts to be certified. Entry-level analysts usually begin with limited responsibilities and work under direct supervision. On the other hand, as part of their professional development, the industry provides course programs in which analysts can certify their experience.
Government budget analysts may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager designation. The organization, Advancing Government Accountability, grants the designation to government accountability officers. Candidates for the certification must have a bachelor’s degree, twenty-four credit hours in financial management coursework, two years of professional-level work experience in governmental financial management; and they must pass a series of three exams that cover the following topics: governmental environment, governmental accounting, financial reporting, and governmental financial management. To maintain the certification, analysts must complete eighty hours of continuing professional education every two years.
Budget Analysts may also apply for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification. They may also apply to be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Budget Analyst Professional Associations
Budget Analysts may join the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA). The AABPA helps budget analysts meet the challenges of their careers by providing its members with contact information. They also provide career development by hosting a symposium two times a year and posting job leads. Members receive two publications a year, the journal and the newsletter; and they submit a manuscript for review.
Budget Analysts who hold a Certified Public Accountant designation may also join the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The AICPA provides advocacy to its members. In addition, it provides networking opportunities, education development, technical guidance, and corporate partner discounts. It also provides the Journal of Accountancy to its members.