Senior Budget Analyst Job Description
Organizations want to do the most with what they have, so they hire senior budget analysts to oversee their financial resources. These professionals thoroughly monitor where money is currently being allocated and how it might be put to better use in the future. Many senior budget analysts work for federal, state, or local governments. Others find employment at educational institutions, nonprofits, or private companies. Most senior budget analysts work full time in an office environment but may travel occasionally to meet with other leaders or make observations. Because budgets are so important, yet often polarizing, analysts frequently experience stress.
Senior Budget Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
The responsibilities of senior budget analysts vary based on the facility at which they work. However, our examination of job postings reveals these tasks as common to most positions:
At the heart of the position is coming up with an annual budget for the organization. Senior budget analysts figure out the best ways to distribute funds among the various sectors requiring money, such as the departments of a company or programs being funded by the government.
Work with Others
Senior budget analysts do not operate in a vacuum. A variety of people have vested interest in where money is allocated. Talking with managers and other interested parties helps the senior budget analyst make decisions while keeping the overall financial health of the operation in mind. Senior analysts also oversee and depend on the efforts of junior budget analysts.
Senior budget analysts keep an eye on activities that affect the budget. They see what departments are spending and read their requests for additional funds. They ensure procedures are followed and that money is handled in the proper intended manner.
Examine Past Budgets
To help create future budgets, senior budget analysts look at past ones. Comparing actual data concerning performance and expenditures to the projections made by the financial team ensures better decisions get made and that errors are corrected. A sounder idea of factors such as daily finances, organizational costs, and areas of overspending leads to greater accuracy. Thorough examination also enables senior budget analysts to notice things that might save the company money or identify underperforming departments. They may also conduct cost-benefit analyses to weigh whether money is being spent efficiently.
Offer Financial Advice
Anytime someone needs to make a financial decision, they may seek guidance from the senior budget analyst. Managers may wonder how certain actions are likely to impact their department or the company as a whole. Execs may want to know about the potential risks of taking on additional debt. Senior budget analysts are regarded as experts who are able to judge how individual actions contribute to or harm overall objectives.
Compile and Present Reports
Senior budget analysts compile a variety of written and oral reports and deliver them to organizational leaders, shareholders, and other interested parties. In these reports, analysts justify decisions, provide explanations, summarize activity, and predict future outcomes as they relate to the budget. Analysts in government positions are sometimes called upon to present to legislators and other officials concerned with the spending of public money.
Senior Budget Analyst Skills and Qualifications
People who love numbers and handle them with ease make good budget analysts, but this senior position demands more than a math whiz. Other elements critical to performance include:
- Communication skills – presenting ideas and explaining choices in both verbal and written forms is necessary for others to clearly understand complex financial data
- Attention to detail – miscalculations and other errors can cause serious problems for the employer, so analysts must double-check their work and watch out for inaccuracies
- Problem-solving skills – senior budget analysts must evaluate information and arrive at solutions to situations involving multiple possibilities and no easy answers
- Computer competency – databases, financial analysis software, and spreadsheets are commonly used tools
Senior Budget Analyst Education and Training
In general, budget analysts minimally possess a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, economics, public administration, or a related field. Moving up to a senior position generally requires a master’s degree as well as several years of experience. Fulfilling requirements to become a Certified Government Financial Manager can attract the attention of hiring managers looking to fill government positions. Such distinction requires a mixture of education, practical experience, and passing exams. To keep skills sharp and learn new things, senior budget analysts should commit to continuing education.
Senior Budget Analyst Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for a budget analyst, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is about $75,000. Workers on the low end of the pay scale earn about $49,000, while the highest paid make more than $113,000. These figures are for all budget analysts. Senior ones, by basis of their background and responsibilities, fall in the upper range of their company’s salary distribution.
The BLS projects employment of budget analysts to grow 7 percent by 2026 because companies continue to need people who can make the best use of resources. As senior positions pay well and hold prestige, competition for these roles will likely stay high.
As you contemplate a career as a senior budget analyst, these sources may be of interest:
Association of Government Accountants – this group helps aspiring senior budget analysts and similar professionals reach their goals by covering topics such as career advancement, certification, and networking
Knowing the Numbers: A Guide to Budget Analysis – the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees offers this comprehensive look at budget analysis
The Essentials of Financial Analysis – written by a finance professor at Lehigh University who has more than 20 years of hands-on experience, this book receives kudos for making difficult information interesting and understandable
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