Budget Analyst

From the smallest local business to the largest multinational conglomerate, organizations of all sizes rely on comprehensive budgets to make sense of their finances. Budget analysts perform the vital work of developing, monitoring, and analyzing overall budgets, offering expert advice that helps companies reach their financial goals. Since all organizations must handle their own finances, budget analysts can find employment in almost any industry.

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

Budget analysts are responsible for knowing a company's budget inside and out. Organizations depend on these professionals for recommendations about everything from spending to resource allocation to funding cuts. While executives and government leaders typically have the final say on budget composition, budget analysts play an important part in an organization’s financial decision-making process. Other common duties include reviewing budget proposals and funding requests from different departments, keeping track of organizational spending, and estimating future budget needs and concerns. Those interested in becoming a financial business analyst must have a head for numbers and an eye for detail. Strong communication skills are also important because they can help you explain the intricacies of a budget to other team members.

Common Responsibilities

  • Budget Development One of the major responsibilities of a budget analyst is working alongside program and project managers to oversee the development of the organizational budget. This involves examining different departments’ expenses, revenue, and performance to help determine future spending needs.
  • Consolidating Interdepartmental Budgets Each department in an organization has its own budget, which must be combined into a consolidated organizational budget to create a comprehensive overview of the organization’s finances. Budget analysts are responsible for compiling the consolidated budget and fielding departmental funding requests.
  • Monitoring Organizational Spending In addition to developing the budget, it’s crucial to monitor company spending closely to ensure than an organization stays financially solvent. One of this professional's most important duties is to ensure that organizational spending remains within a fixed budget.
  • Ensuring Legal and Regulatory Compliance Along with technical knowledge of accounting and budgeting, budget analysts also need to have knowledge of financial regulations and ethics, which help to ensure that an organization’s budgeting and spending are operating legally. They are responsible for reviewing other manager’s proposals to ensure they meet all financial legal standards.
  • Communicating and Advising Executives While top executives and other leaders have the final say on the overall budget, they depend on the expertise of analysts to make many financial decisions. Budget analysts must frequently communicate their findings to executives and department directors in a way that's understandable to non-experts.

Depending on your level of experience, training, and education, you may be able to pursue several positions in the world of budget analysis. While most general analysts have a bachelor’s degree, higher-level positions such as finance director or senior financial analyst may require a master’s degree and a significant amount of professional experience.

Average Salary by Job Title
Job TitleDescriptionAverage Salary
Budget AnalystBudget analysts review organizational budgets and provide insight into a company's finances. They are responsible for developing budgets and ensuring that a company's budgets are compliant with financial regulations. They communicate with executives about budget concerns and may also field departmental funding requests$58,247
Budget ManagerJust like analysts, budget managers are responsible for monitoring expense and revenue patterns, but they take on greater leadership responsibilities in an organization and sometimes lead teams of several budget analysts. Budget managers are also responsible for regulating the day-to-day operations in the budget department and delegating tasks to other team members.$71,764
Senior Financial AnalystSenior financial analysts are highly skilled in several areas of finance, from budgeting and economics to accounting and statistics. They may work to address higher-level concerns beyond the immediate budget, offering long-term financial analysis and advice that shapes a company's financial policies.$78,243
Finance DirectorOperating at the highest levels of organizational finance, these executives are responsible for overseeing the overall preparation of budgets and other financial data and analyses. As directors, they may also be responsible for managerial duties such as hiring and employee performance evaluations.$112,506

Types of Budget Analysts

Budget analysts have a set of skills that qualifies them to pursue a variety of different positions, each with its own unique challenges and responsibilities. Below you’ll find brief descriptions outlining the differences between two of the most common positions in the field: financial analysts and banking analysts.

Financial Analyst

These analysts serve in a support role for financial departments, often advising on the newest financial trends and projections to help a company make informed decisions. Their responsibilities encompass many different dimensions of finance, from accounting and economics to business projections and research-based modeling techniques. Financial analysts must consume large amounts of data, make detailed observations, and then synthesize and report their findings back to other members of the finance department.

Banking Analysts

These specialized analysts are more focused on projections and research related to investment banking. They advise companies on the intricacies of different industries, demographics, and investment risks. Banking analysts are skilled in statistics, accounting, information modeling, and deep quantitative analysis. They perform many similar duties to budget analysts, but with an emphasis on maximizing return on investment for their companies.

Potential Industries for Budget Analysts

Since just about every organizations must deal with financial and budgeting concerns, budget analysts can pursue a career in almost any industry. While the work is similar at its core, different fields each present different goals and challenges.

Healthcare

Analysts in the healthcare field must keep track of medical trends and developments to best develop budgets and financial projections. Those who work in certain environments, such as hospitals, may need to have an even greater knowledge of healthcare regulations and policies.

Government Agencies

Since government agencies don’t seek to make a profit, a budget analyst’s responsibilities often involve determining the most efficient way to allocate financial resources among different departments and government programs.

E-Commerce

E-commerce budget analysts are responsible for maximizing budget efficiency and increase profits. They must stay up to date on developments in digital commerce so they can accurately forecast financial changes and difficulties that may arise.

Financial Markets

Like e-commerce analysts, finance budget analysts work to help companies maximize their profits through efficient budgeting. Given the complex nature of the work, there is room for a great deal of specialization.

Since nearly all organizations must require budget analysis and projection, the field is characterized by competitive wages and salaries that are generally guaranteed to increase over time. The chart below catalogs the average annual budget analyst salary levels throughout a professional's career based on years of experience.

Average Salary for Budget Analysts by Experience Level
ExperienceSalary
Entry Level (0-5 Years)$52,830
Mid-Career (5-10 Years)$62,396
Experienced (10-20 Years)$68,831
Late Career (20+ Years)$72,014

Pay Difference by City for Budget Analysts

A career as a budget analyst can land you a job just about anywhere in the country, but not all positions are created equal. Along with education and professional experience, geography can have a significant impact on your salary, as the chart below indicates. Since budget analysts are often employed in either businesses or government agencies, centers of politics like Arlington and Washington, D.C. top the list, along with the corporate hub in Dallas.

Median Salary for Budget Analysts by Location
LocationMedian Salary for Budget Analyst
Arlington$74,558
Dallas$68,957
Washington$65,108
Philadelphia$64,471
Boston$63,722

While gaining a certain amount of experience in budgeting or finance may sometimes be enough to move into a budget analyst position, your best shot is to enroll in an accredited degree program. Earning a degree in budget analysis will provide you with the skills and background that are needed for steady employment and career growth.

What Degree is Needed to Become a Budget Analyst?

Most budget analyst positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, though more elite employers may desire a master’s degree even for their general analysts. Private sector employers desire candidates with a degree in a relevant field, such as finance, business, accounting, economics, statistics, or public administration. Government agencies and some private employers may be more lenient with degree requirements, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a degree in political science or sociology may sometimes be adequate to obtain a budget analyst position.

For higher-level positions in management, a master’s degree is usually required. Many MBA programs offer concentrations in finance or financial analysis and advanced degrees in accounting or statistics may also help you distinguish yourself from other applicants.

Internships for Budget Analysts

One of the best ways to develop your skills and increase job opportunities is through an internship. Internships are typically required in master’s programs, but many undergraduate programs offer them as well. An internship gives you the chance to gain professional knowledge in a real finance environment, working under other employees and learning from their experience. Internships typically occupy a set number of hours each week and are designed to not overlap with a student's classroom schedule. While most internships are unpaid, some of the more prestigious positions may let you take home a paycheck.

Internships are often available as part of a program's curriculum, allowing students to gain academic credit and build work experience at the same time. Even those that don’t translate to course credit offer valuable opportunities for learning and networking. If your program does not include internships as part of the curriculum, then it’s still usually possible to find your own opportunities, either with the help of the school or through your own research.

Budget Analytics Certfications

Certified Budget Analyst

The International Academy of Business and Financial Management offers CBA certification to budget analysts with at least five years of relevant experience. The certification exam covers specialized skill areas such as zero-based budgeting and beyond budgeting.

Certified Public Finance Officers

The CPFO certification is available for budget analysts who work for government agencies and possess a bachelor's degree and at least three years of government work experience. The certification exam covers five key areas, including accounting and auditing, operational and capital budgets, and cash and debit management.

Professional Organizations

  • Association for Finance Professionals AFP is committed to the success of finance professionals and holds the largest annual finance conference, which usually draws over 6,500 finance professionals. The AFP conference brings together guest speakers and professionals from around the world and includes seminars, lectures, and substantial networking opportunities. AFP also publishes trade journals, resources books, and original research to keep members up to date on the latest developments in the finance field.
  • Institute of Management Accountants Boasting more than 85,000 members drawn from the fields of accounting and financial management, the IMA offers services for students, professionals, educators, and employers. With a deep focus on professional development, IMA’s online resources can help you evaluate your skill set and identify the areas where you need to improve. The organization offers over 500 continuing education courses that cover everything from accounting strategy to industry ethics. IMA also offers test prep for industry certification exams.
  • Associate of Government Accountants AGA is the leading professional organization for government financial professionals and offers several resources for members, including conferences, networking events, professional certifications, education, career development, and professional publications. With over 100 chapters across the country, it’s easy to find opportunities in your state. AGA also offers scholarships and other awards for finance students.