Budget Analyst Job Description
Budget analysts help organizations make sound financial decisions by monitoring and reporting on budgets, cash flow activities, and expenditures. This role combines strategic thinking with day-to-day financial management and accounting tasks. Budget analysts are highly detail-oriented and can interpret trends and forecasts to make sound financial decisions.
Typically, budget analysts work closely with organizational leadership and financial personnel to prepare budget reports, develop spending and debt payment plans, and generate long-term financial plans and forecasts. They may work with other departments, however, to identify areas to implement cost-saving procedures, limit expenditures, and enhance overall efficiency.
Budget Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
While a budget analyst’s specific role depends largely on the organization they work for, we identified several core duties in many of the postings that we analyzed:
The primary duty of a budget analyst is developing organization-wide budgets based on business income, trends, and forecasts. Budget analysts take a high-level view of company or organization finances and determine the best way to handle expenses and invest in business growth. This role requires a balance of strategic direction and forecasting, since budget analysts may work on budgets with estimated costs or projected income.
Assess Previous Budgets
Part of the budget analyst’s role is to analyze previous budgets and compare that data with actual records of company performance. Through this process, they may identify areas where previous budgets made incorrect assumptions or misallocated funds and can work to correct these errors in future budgets. A budget analyst also examines previous budgets and expenditures to identify inconsistencies and possible misappropriation of funds.
The budget analyst also monitors organizational expenditures, ranging from compensation to cost of goods sold, to identify areas where the company is overspending. This allows the budget analyst to make recommendations to company leaders to reduce expenses and build a responsive budget that allows for a better handle on day-to-day finances. The budget analyst may work directly with bank or financial data or speak directly with accounts payable personnel to gather information on organizational costs.
Provide Financial Guidance
Budget analysts confer directly with executives, managers, and other organizational leaders to provide high-level financial advice and guidance. Executives may rely on budget analysts for advice when deciding to relocate or change suppliers, for example, because these decisions can directly affect income and expenditures. A budget analyst looks at long-term financial goals and projections as well as current expenditures in order to provide sound guidance and support the company’s growth and longevity.
Examine Departmental Finances
In addition to providing financial guidance and oversight at the executive level, many budget analysts also actively monitor and oversee departmental budgets. They may identify departments that are spending a disproportionate amount of the company’s budget, for example, and introduce methods to reduce costs or expenditures that do not support the organization’s bottom line.
Manage Organizational Debt
Many budget analysts also manage an organization’s debts. They examine periodic debt payments and total amounts due, and work with the organization’s finance department to separate long- and short-term debt while also allocating funds toward resolving outstanding debts ahead of schedule to reduce interest payments or free up money for other projects. The budget analyst may also advise leaders about taking on additional debt.
Budget Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Budget analysts balance financial management with long-term projections and analysis. Companies typically hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree and the following skills:
- Financial analysis – this role requires a strong foundation in financial analysis, since budget analysts need to examine data from a variety of departments to manage an organization’s finances
- Budget development – budget analysts also need extensive experience developing and enacting organizational budgets while considering income, opportunities for growth, and expenditures
- Financial forecasting – budget analysts typically manage long-term financial performance, so the ability to predict and forecast future revenue and expenses is vital
- Problem-solving skills – sharp problem-solving skills help budget analysts manage an organization’s cash flow and resolve irregularities that arise while examining previous budgets
- Communication skills – budget analysts need to communicate with organization leaders and individual departments and personnel while also preparing written budget reports for stakeholders
Tools of the Trade
Budget analysts typically work in office settings, so they need familiarity with standard office equipment and software as well as the following:
- Financial management software (QuickBooks, Sage Intacct)
Budget Analyst Education and Training
In general, budget analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration, finance, or accounting. Because of the high level of responsibility in this role, however, many organizations seek out candidates with master’s degrees in business administration. Additionally, many budget analysts have a background in accounting and may be certified public accountants (CPAs). There is also a fair amount of on-the-job training provided to help budget analysts gain familiarity with their employer’s finances and practices.
Budget Analyst Salary and Outlook
Budget analyst salaries can vary based on location and organization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual wage of $73,840. The highest earners in this role earn annual salaries over $111,460, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earn less than $48,300.
The BLS expects budget analyst employment to grow 7 percent through 2026, with particularly strong growth in government fields.
If you’re interested in starting a career or learning more about working as a budget analyst, we found many additional resources on the web:
Knowing the Numbers: A Guide to Budget Analysis – the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees provides a comprehensive guide to budget analysis
Budget Analyst Career: The Insider’s Guide to Finding a Job at an Amazing Firm, Acing the Interview & Getting Promoted – author Anne Johnson details how to begin and advance a career as a budget analyst in any industry
Accounting Edu – discover information about careers in accounting and financial management as well as state-by-state guides to certification and continuing education
The Essentials of Financial Analysis – Samuel C. Weaver provides an extensive look at the principles and techniques of financial management, budget analysis, and forecasting
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