Budget analysts assist management in deciding how to allocate resources and estimate future financial requirements by developing, analyzing, and executing budgets. Their main task is to determine how to most efficiently distribute financial resources within private, non-profit, or government organizations. They examine budget estimates or proposals submitted by managers and department heads, and determine their completeness, accuracy, and conformance with established procedures, regulations, and organizational objectives. They may perform cost-benefit analysis, examine past budgets, research exterior economic developments. They then consolidate the various department’s budgets into a budget summary and submit the summary to senior management.
Budget analysts should have strong analytical and statistical skills, as well as be familiar with word processing, financial software packages, and other computer applications such as electronic spreadsheets, databases, and graphics software. They must have strong written and oral communication skills because they are required to prepare, present, and defend budget proposals. They must also be able to handle the pressure that comes from working under strict time deadlines.
In 2002, budget analysts earned a median annual salary of $52,480. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $34,580, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $82,720. Starting salaries in small, private companies ranged from $29,750 to $36,250. Starting salaries in the Federal Government ranged from $23,442 to $29,037. Candidates with master’s degrees usually start around $35,519. In 2003, the average salary for Federal Government budget analysts was $62,400.
Training and Education
While private and government employers require at least a bachelor’s degree, many require candidates to have a master’s degree. In some cases, a degree in a field that closely matches the industry of the employer may suffice as qualification for employment. Some employers prefer candidates with degrees in business, while others prefer those with majors such as political science, economics, public administration, or public finance. Some work experience related to budget or finance can substitute for formal degrees. Entry-level employees may receive on-the-job training, while others are trained by working through a 1-year budget cycle. Federal, State, and local government budget analysts can become certified as a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) through the Association of Government Accountants, which requires a bachelor’s degree, 24 hours of financial management study, 2 years of experience in government work, and successful passing of three exams.
In 2002, budget analysts held about 62,000 jobs. 46% were employed by Federal, State, and local governments. 20% worked for the Federal government, and others worked in manufacturing, financial services, or management services.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of budget analysts is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Growth will be due to demand for quality accounting advice in all sectors of the economy, as well as to workers who retire, change occupations, or leave the labor force for other reasons. Computer automation has increased productivity, but budget analysts’ jobs have become more complicated because of the increase in information available. The complexity of their jobs and the increased importance given to financial management will offset any adverse effects of computer automation. Job prospects will best for those candidates with master’s degrees, as well as those who are proficient in computer financial software packages.