how to become a budget analyst

What does a Budget Analyst do?

A budget analyst organizes the finances of private and public institutions by monitoring spending and preparing budget reports. They analyze data to determine the benefits and costs of recommended funding levels and other programs. Budget analysts then provide this information to top executives and elected officials of these institutions. These recommendations help to determine needs and guide management in making informed decisions.

Watch a video to learn what a budget analyst does:


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How to Become a Budget Analyst

how to become a budget analyst

A budget analyst typically needs a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Most earn a degree in business, accounting, public administration, finance, statistics, political science, sociology, or economics.  These programs usually teach you how to analyze, work with numbers, create charts, develop budgets, allocate funds, and reading financial statements.

Additional skills are also needed to be a competent budget analyst. Some skills include the following: problem-solving and analytical skills to process a variety of data and evaluate costs and benefits; communication skills to explain and defend recommendations in meetings and legislative committee hearings; math skills to calculate or project budgets; technology to able to use specific software, including spreadsheets and financial analysis programs; and last but not least writing skills to present technical information in an understandable way to the intended audience.

Government budget analysts should also learn additional credentials called Certified Government Financial Manager from the Association of Government Accounts to coincide with their degree. To gain this credential, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree with 24 hours of study in financial management and two years of professional-level experience in government financial management. You will also be required to sit for several exams. Once you are working in the industry, budget analysts must complete 80 hours of continuing education every two years to keep their certification.

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Job Description of Budget Analysts

Budget analysts typically duties include helping public and private institutions organize their finances. They consolidate department and program budgets into an organizational budget as well as check all requests for funding. Analysts create reports and present their recommendations for funding requests to appropriate personnel. They work alongside project and program managers in developing the organization’s budget while reviewing the proposal, checking for accuracy, completeness, and compliance with regulations and laws.

A budget analyst assists the top manager, chief operations officer, or other agency heads to analyze funding proposals and find alternate solutions if the results are not acceptable. They monitor spending to remain within budget and estimate future spending requirements. A budget analyst employed in government agencies would attend committee hearings to explain their recommendations to legislators. All budget analysts require skills in math, writing, communication, and analytical abilities. They also need to be detail-oriented and work well under pressure. Deadlines and time constraints are frequent in the industry.

According to the US Bureau Labor of Statistics, budget analysts usually work in offices, and over 20% work for the federal government, followed by educational services. At times traveling may be required to get budget details firsthand or to verify funding allocations. Most budget analysts work full-time hours; however, to meet deadlines, overtime is sometimes needed during final reviews of budgets. Budget analysts are critical as state and national funding has been decreasing or fluctuating over the last several years. The efficient use of funds at the federal, state, and local levels provides steady employment opportunities for budget analysts since they manage resource allocation.

Budget Analyst Video Transcript

Capable of both developing and communicating a budget for a multimillion-dollar organization… budget analysts help institutions organize their finances. Whether for public offices or private companies, budget analysts prepare budget reports and evaluate budget proposals. Budget analysts analyze data to determine the costs and benefits of various programs and recommend funding levels based on their findings.

The final decision on an organization’s budget generally comes down to high-level executives or government officials, but they rely heavily on the competence of budget analysts when making those decisions. They also oversee spending throughout the year to keep spending within the budget, or revise it when changing circumstances demand it. They may recommend program cuts or evaluate the return on investment of particular efforts.

Budget analysts usually work in offices, but some may travel to gather information firsthand. They work in government agencies, universities, and private companies. Budget analysts generally work full time, and overtime is sometimes required during final reviews of budgets. The tight work schedules and pressure of deadlines can be stressful. Most budget analysts have at least a bachelor’s degree, though related work experience can sometimes suffice. Courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful. Government positions may require certification.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Budget Analyst.

National Center for O*NET Development. 13-2031.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.