Strange as this may sound to anyone with a head for numbers, budget analysts do not need to be supremely good accountants—they need to be excellent communicators and diplomats. Most budget analysts are the gatekeepers of a company’s or government’s budget. While they do not dole out the funds, they do help decision-makers select the best use of those funds. To do that, budget analysts need more than a solid education—they need to speak and write clearly, listen carefully, and smooth a lot of ruffled feathers.
Flock Together: Budget Analysts are Vital
Budget analysts are a small but critical part of the American financial landscape. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in May, 2014 our country only had around 57,120 budget analysts, with the vast majority working in various governmental agencies.
This small flock of talented, hard-working budget analysts is responsible for studying proposed budgets, reporting on the accuracy of the numbers, and describing the impact of projects funded by those budgets.
Budget analysts generally work their way up from entry level accounting positions in public and private institutions, taking on more responsibility to perform their jobs:
- Review budget proposals for accuracy, legal compliance, and thoroughness
- Work with managers to develop departmental budgets
- Combine departmental budgets and program requests to form an organizational budget
- Make recommendations for funding requests
- Monitor spending
- Report out departmental spending and project funding shortfalls or overages
To become a budget analyst, you need a strong undergraduate education in accounting, certainly. You need more than that, however, as your work in budget analysis is mainly about attention to detail, having impeccable organizing skills, and communicating with every area of your organization.
Budget analysts often work long hours from time to time, preparing reports and crunching budget numbers. The work can sometimes be stressful and demanding. Nobody wants to work with constant complainers, of course, so having a strong work ethic will make your job easier. No grousing on the job!
Do You Have Eyes Like a Hawk? Budget Analysts Have an Eye for Detail.
Good budget analysts have a keen eye for detail. They keep their work organized, knit together the various departmental budgets of a company or government, and trace how one budget line threads through all the rest.
To become a budget analyst, build a resume that shows an interest in budgetary work:
- Volunteer work
- Part-time jobs
You could show your interest in budget analysis by helping with a non-profit organization’s budget, whether it is your church, civic group or community charity. Extend that experience by joining professional organizations, such as the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA).
By building a work history that emphasizes your attention to detail, mastery of budget basics, and communication skills with peers, volunteers and superiors, you show that your interest in budget analysis is not just a momentary phase, but a sincere career pursuit.
How are Your Presentation Skills? Crow About It!
Budget analysts have to not only take in vast amounts of information, usually subjecting those numbers to software analysis, they have to report out how those thousands of budget items affect a company or municipal, state or federal government.
Being able to speak off the cuff in a compelling, interesting way about finances is not easy, and is a learned skill. A budget analyst may be called upon to explain the impact of, for example, cutting one department’s budget ten percent or reducing all department budgets by two percent.
Facility with preparing charts, presentations and talking points is essential. Budget analysts do not hide behind numbers—they explain them.
Budget Analyst Skills: Legal Eagles
Budget analysts have to comply by state and federal laws and regulations, making certain their organizations are in compliance with reporting requirements. They must stay up to date on those regulations and advise various departments on compliance.
As you can see, budget analysts must have many job skills. But how many jobs will budget analysts have?
What’s on the Horizon?
The BLS foresees a slight downward trend in available positions for budget analysts due to shrinking government budgets, but this does not mean demand for budget analysts will disappear. Highly qualified, capable employees in any profession always find a place to roost. Private industry, non-profit organizations and universities all need budget analysts.
Oddly, in times of financial constraint, the work budget analysts perform is more vital than ever. This is why, according to the BLS, their median annual salary (May, 2012) was $69,280.
ECPI is all about Professionalism && I love it.
— Susie Bish (@ApMonique_) January 4, 2013
Take Flight with an Accounting Degree!
The best way to start a possible career path as a budget analyst is with a strong education in accounting. Attending ECPI University year-round for our Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting could help you leave the nest in only 2.5 years. Soar into your future by contacting ECPI today. It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
DISCLAIMER – ECPI University makes no claim, warranty or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program we offer. The ECPI University website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the ECPI.edu domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.