Budget Analysts


Quick Facts: Budget Analysts
2017 Median Pay $75,240 per year 
$36.17 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 58,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 3,800

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Budget Analysts Career, Salary and Education Information

What Budget Analysts Do

Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending. Budget analysts working in government may attend committee hearings to explain their recommendations to legislators. Occasionally, budget analysts may evaluate how well a program is doing, provide policy analysis, and draft budget-related legislation.

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budget analysts

Duties of budget analysts

Budget analysts typically do the following:

  • Work with program and project managers to develop the organization’s budget

  • Review managers’ budget proposals for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with laws and other regulations

  • Combine all the program and department budgets together into a consolidated organizational budget and review all funding requests for merit

  • Explain their recommendations for funding requests to others in the organization, to legislators, and to the public

  • Help the chief operations officer, agency head, or other top managers analyze proposed plans and find alternatives if the projected results are unsatisfactory

  • Monitor organizational spending to ensure that it is within budget

  • Inform program managers of the status and availability of funds

  • Estimate future financial needs

Budget analysts advise various institutions—including governments, universities, and businesses—on how to organize their finances. They prepare annual and special reports and evaluate budget proposals. They analyze data to determine the costs and benefits of various programs, and they recommend funding levels based on their findings. Although government officials or top executives in a private company usually make the final decision on an organization’s budget, they rely on the work of budget analysts to prepare the information for that decision.

Sometimes, budget analysts use cost–benefit analyses to review financial requests, assess program tradeoffs, and explore alternative funding methods. Budget analysts also may examine past budgets and research economic and financial developments that affect the organization’s income and expenditures. Budget analysts may recommend cutting spending on particular programs or redistributing extra funds.

Throughout the year, budget analysts oversee spending to ensure compliance with the budget and determine whether changes to funding levels are needed for certain programs. Analysts also evaluate programs to determine whether they are producing the desired results.

In addition to providing technical analysis, budget analysts must communicate their recommendations effectively to officials within the organization. For example, if there is a difference between the approved budget and actual spending, budget analysts may write a report explaining the variations and recommend changes to reconcile the differences.

Budget analysts working in government may attend committee hearings to explain their recommendations to legislators. Occasionally, budget analysts may evaluate how well a program is doing, provide policy analysis, and draft budget-related legislation.


work environment for budget analysts

Budget analysts held about 58,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of budget analysts were as follows:

Federal government: 20%

Educational services; state, local, and private: 15%

State government, excluding education and hospitals: 11%

Professional, scientific, and technical services: 11%

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: 10%

Although budget analysts usually work in offices, some may travel to get budget details firsthand or to verify funding allocations.

Work Schedules

Most budget analysts work full time, and overtime is sometimes required during final reviews of budgets. The pressures of deadlines and tight work schedules can be stressful.


How to Become a Budget Analyst

A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a budget analyst. Courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful.

Education

Employers generally require budget analysts to have at least a bachelor's degree. Because developing a budget requires strong numerical and analytical skills, courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful. Federal, state, and local governments have varying requirements, but usually require a bachelor's degree in one of many areas, such as accounting, finance, business, public administration, economics, statistics, political science, or sociology.

Sometimes, budget-related or finance-related work experience can be substituted for formal education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Government budget analysts may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager credential from the Association of Government Accountants. To earn this certification, candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, 24 credit hours of study in financial management, and 2 years of professional-level experience in governmental financial management. They must also pass a series of exams. To keep the certification, budget analysts must take 80 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Budget analysts must be able to process a variety of information, evaluate costs and benefits, and solve complex problems.

Communication skills. Budget analysts need strong communication skills because they often have to explain and defend their analyses and recommendations in meetings and legislative committee hearings.

Detail oriented. Creating an efficient budget requires careful analysis of each budget item.

Math skills. Most budget analysts need math skills and should be able to use certain software, including spreadsheets, database functions, and financial analysis programs.

Writing skills. Budget analysts must present technical information in writing that is understandable to the intended audience.


salaries for Budget Analysts

The median annual wage for budget analysts was $75,240 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $113,740.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for budget analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services: $82,360

Federal government: $80,750

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $70,550

Educational services; state, local, and private: $66,680

State government, excluding education and hospitals: $64,420


Job Outlook for Budget Analysts

Demand for efficient use of public funds at the federal, state, and local levels will lead to continued demand for budget analysts. Although many states are facing budget shortfalls, employment of these workers should remain steady. Because budget analysts are responsible for managing the allocation of resources, the need for these workers remains even during times of tight budgets.

Job Prospects

Since this occupation has relatively few job openings due to separations, jobseekers are likely to face competition for the limited number of budget analyst positions.

Employment projections data for Budget Analysts, 2016-2026:

Employment, 2016: 58,400

Projected Employment, 2026: 62,200

Change, 2016-2026: +7%, +3,800


Related Careers to budget analysts

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.

Actuaries

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular product or industry.

Economists

Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues.

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions. They assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.

Financial Examiners

Financial examiners ensure compliance with laws governing financial institutions and transactions. They review balance sheets, evaluate the risk level of loans, and assess bank management.

Financial Managers

Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Insurance Underwriters

Insurance underwriters decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms. They evaluate insurance applications and determine coverage amounts and premiums.

Management Analysts

Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of federal, state, and local governments. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Accountants and AuditorsBachelor's degree$69,350
Cost EstimatorsBachelor's degree$63,110
EconomistsMaster's degree$102,490
Financial AnalystsBachelor's degree$84,300
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$125,080
Management AnalystsBachelor's degree$82,450
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue AgentsBachelor's degree$53,130
ActuariesBachelor's degree$101,560
Financial ExaminersBachelor's degree$81,690
Insurance UnderwritersBachelor's degree$69,760

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Budget Analysts,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm