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Budget Analyst Career Guide

How to Become a Budget Analyst

Love numbers and planning? Do you thrive in an environment where your leadership skills are highly valued? If so, then a career as a budget analyst might be a great fit for you. 

A budget analyst is the person in a company, nonprofit, or other organization who analyzes spending, budgets, and funding requests. Executives rely on the knowledge and hard work of budget analysts to synthesize data in order for them to make informed financial choices. A budget analyst’s primary responsibility is to use excellent communication and problem-solving skills to guide budget allocations and monetary decisions. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the current median salary for a budget analyst is $40 per hour and $80,000 per year. Budget analysts play an important role in both public and private organizations to advise on and help promote the financial health of an organization.

With a competitive degree and strong work experience, you can feel prepared to become a well-qualified budget analyst.

budget analyst crunching numbers

What Is a Budget Analyst?

A budget analyst helps organizations structure and allocate their financial resources. They serve as an advocate for the financial success of an organization by evaluating proposals, recommending changes, redistributing funds, and preparing reports. They work closely with project managers to stay on budget, and if there is a discrepancy in the budget, they develop solutions and recommendations to reconcile that discrepancy.

There are many job titles a budget analyst can have within an organization, from financial analyst to finance manager to fixed income trader. And budget analysts often collaborate with other business professionals, like accountants and financial planners, to guide them in making more efficient financial decisions.

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

The day-to-day duties of a budget analyst can range from analyzing data to communicating with executives. A typical workday may include the following:

  • Analyzing financial reports
  • Developing organizational budgets
  • Reviewing funding requests
  • Researching fiscal concerns
  • Forecasting budgets for the upcoming fiscal year
  • Monitoring spending each quarter
  • Problem-solving possible financial needs
  • Working closely with project managers
  • Preparing and maintaining financial records  
  • Communicating budget parameters internally and externally

How Do I Become a Budget Analyst?

The first step to becoming a budget analyst is to get a bachelor’s degree in business management or accounting. Within business management, courses on business ethics, business communication, project management, and marketing assist when navigating the inner politics of an organization, communicating expectations, learning how to oversee a project from start to finish, and understanding both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) environments. Additionally, an accounting degree helps provide knowledge in taxation, accounting, quantitative analysis, and business simulation. These courses aid in understanding the complexities of tax law, mastering multilevel accounting principles, analyzing trends and data, and growing skills from theoretical to applicable. Overall, a degree in either business management or accounting is an excellent foundation for a successful career in budget analytics.

The next step is to gain professional experience. According to the BLS, more than 50% of employers are looking for at least two years of experience, and 32% want three to five years of experience. Gaining skills through an internship or entry-level position in financial analysis, budget drafting, accounting practices, data presentation, and financial problem-solving will only further develop a strong pathway for you as a skilled budget analyst.

Finally, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Accounting (MAcc) can help you stand out from the competition and increase your earning potential. On average, graduates with an MBA or MAcc report a $16,000 to $18,000 increase in their yearly salary.

Best Degrees for a Budget Analyst

Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 41 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Account executive
  • Business analyst
  • Program manager
  • Director or senior director
  • Vice president

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.

Accounting – B.S. Business Administration

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 41 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accounting manager
  • Financial director
  • Vice president of finance and operations
  • Chief financial officer
  • Forensic accountant

Take your first step toward CPA certification and learn how to use GAAP, ledgers, and journals.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

Accounting – M.S.

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater...

Become better qualified to pursue a greater variety of public and private accounting positions:

  • Time: 70% of grads finish within 23 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accountant
  • Accounting manager
  • Internal audit manager
  • Senior accountant
  • Other specialized finance roles

This MAcc program is designed to prepare you for the CPA exam and also the CMA or CIA exams.


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What Skills Does a Budget Analyst Need?

  • Innovation and creativity: Budget analysts use innovation and creativity when presented with a fiscal challenge. A budget analyst is a necessary resource when an organization has a surprise expense and limited funds.
  • Insightful perspective: To keep a budget on track, budget analysts use their insight to examine spending and advise necessary changes. They often look at past budgets and research competitors to create a well-developed perspective.
  • Detail-oriented: A keen eye for detail is most important for a budget analyst to review funding requests for compliance and correctness. For instance, many organizations rely on an in-house budget analyst to keep their records prepared for auditing.
  • Problem-solving: Budget analysts use cost-benefit analysis to foresee financial dilemmas. For example, if a company wants to invest in a new product design, then a budget analyst is an essential part of determining the financial viability of that product launch. 
  • Effective communication: Strong writing and verbal communication skills are essential when budget analysts communicate their recommendations. Understanding the numbers on a spreadsheet is important, but it is equally important that budget analysts effectively communicate those financial expectations to other team members.
  • Technical knowledge of financial records: Budget analysts use spreadsheets, databases, and analysis software to maintain their fiscal knowledge, and they are expected to constantly develop their technical skills.
male budget analyst

How Much Do Budget Analysts Make?

Varies

The income for a budget analyst will vary depending on their industry, location, and level of education. Most budget analysts can expect an annual salary ranging from $63,000 to $98,000 per year, with the bottom 10% earning less than $49,000 and the top 10% earning more than $124,000 per year.

What Is the Job Outlook for a Budget Analyst?

5%

From 2020 to 2023, the field of budget analytics is expected to grow by 5%. The essential skills of budget preparation, analysis, and planning that analysts bring to an organization ensure this career will remain in high demand. And even with the continued dependency on AI technology, budget analysts remain an important asset in translating financial data for organizations to make real-world decisions.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Budget Analyst?

4-5 Years

Individuals should be prepared to spend four to five years in a degree program, along with one to two years for additional certifications to increase experience and earnings, to become a budget analyst. Additionally, those with hands-on experience in managing and communicating budgets within an organization increase their chances of advancing into the position more quickly.

Budget Analyst FAQs

Depending on interest, experience, and specialization, budget analysts have a variety of work options. They are employed by small-, medium-, or large-scale organizations within the fields of education, science, technology, finance, transportation and by federal, state, or local government agencies.

In private organizations, budget analysts often review budgets and determine creative ways to improve efficiency and increase profits. For those working in nonprofits or government entities, budget analysts determine the best strategies to allocate funds amongst programs and departments. 

Most of the time, budget analysts work full-time in office environments, yet required travel to verify funding details firsthand isn’t uncommon.

Typically, an entry-level budget analyst needs at least a bachelor’s degree in business, mathematics, public administration, economics, or accounting to get started in the field. Some employers may require individuals to have a master’s degree or encourage advancing one’s education when seeking a promotion. 

As a budget analyst, additional experience and certifications, such as practicing public accounting as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), will only further develop one’s skills and hiring potential. Budget analysts who work at the federal, state, or local government level may need to earn a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) credential to improve their career prospects. To become a CGFM, individuals need to obtain a bachelor's degree, complete 24 credit hours in financial management, undergo two years of experience working at the government level, and successfully pass a series of exams.

Interested in Becoming a Budget Analyst?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this exciting career.

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