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How to Become a Budget Analyst

Career News August 22, 2013

Becoming a budget analyst is not about the numbers. If mathematics is your chief source of joy, you may want to consider another occupation. Although budget analysts study the reports from accountants, their primary function is in the development, documentation and defense of the prescribed budget. Their job is to decide how to distribute limited financial resources effectively. They examine past and current budgets to find the most effective means of distributing funds and other resources among the various departments of the organization they are representing.

College Degrees Can Help Launch Your Career

Preparation for becoming a budget analyst requires a minimum of a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in accounting, business, economics, finance, political science or statistics, although some agencies require a master’s degree. Approximately 45% of budget analysts hold a government job, while others work for universities, charitable organizations or private industries. The average annual wage for a budget analyst ranges from $42,757 to $68,200.

Budget analysts require analytical and quantitative skills. They must have a keen sense of organization, an ability to communicate detailed information effectively and translate voluminous data into solid content. They must know how to present summaries of their information in script, verbally and through the use of charts and graphs.

It’s imperative for a budget analyst to have a thorough understanding of the organization, its goals, its programs and the processes involved for carrying out the agency’s mission. Throughout the year, the budget analyst will monitor the budget by reviewing the accounting reports to determine if the funds were used appropriately and as specified within an existing program.

Additional Requirements for Budget Analysts

To work for a government agency, budget analysts must complete 25 hours in financial management, have two years work experience in financial management relevant to the job, and pass three examinations for certification, as well as the completion of a B.A. The certification may be obtained from the Association of Government Accountants and is offered as a Certified Government Financial Management certificate. The certification must be renewed every two years, and requires 80 continuing education hours for each certification.

Long hours are often expected of budget analysts, especially during the initial development, mid-year reviews and the final year end reviews of the budget. The work can be extremely stressful as it involves meeting crucial deadlines within tight schedules. However, on the positive side, most budget analysts work independently, from comfortable offices, and sometimes engage in travel to collect data, obtain details from fellow co-workers or to observe first-hand, the effectiveness of budget allocations for various programs.

The job outlook for budget analysts is average, with an expectancy of ten percent growth by the year 2016. The skills required to become a budget analyst is expected to continue to be in demand as the Nation’s need for skilled analysts is an important function of every major organization. There is no expectancy that budget analysts will be affected by downsizing in the workplace. Additionally, many jobs are expected to open as senior budget analysts reach retirement age, leaving a vacancy in this important job capacity.

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