Budget Analysts


Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending.

Duties

Budget analysts typically do the following:

  • Work with program and project managers to develop the organization’s budget
  • Review managers’ budget proposals for completeness, accuracy, and compliance with laws and other regulations
  • Combine all the program and department budgets together into a consolidated organizational budget and review all funding requests for merit
  • Explain their recommendations for funding requests to others in the organization, to legislators, and to the public
  • Help the chief operations officer, agency head, or other top managers analyze proposed plans and find alternatives if the projected results are unsatisfactory
  • Monitor organizational spending to ensure that it is within budget
  • Inform program managers of the status and availability of funds
  • Estimate future financial needs

Budget analysts advise various institutions—including governments, universities, and businesses—on how to organize their finances. They prepare annual and special reports and evaluate budget proposals. They analyze data to determine the costs and benefits of various programs, and they recommend funding levels based on their findings. Although government officials or top executives in a private company usually make the final decision on an organization’s budget, they rely on the work of budget analysts to prepare the information for that decision.

Sometimes, budget analysts use cost–benefit analyses to review financial requests, assess program tradeoffs, and explore alternative funding methods. Budget analysts also may examine past budgets and research economic and financial developments that affect the organization’s income and expenditures. Budget analysts may recommend cutting spending on particular programs or redistributing extra funds.

Throughout the year, budget analysts oversee spending to ensure compliance with the budget and determine whether changes to funding levels are needed for certain programs. Analysts also evaluate programs to determine whether they are producing the desired results.

In addition to providing technical analysis, budget analysts must communicate their recommendations effectively to officials within the organization. For example, if there is a difference between the approved budget and actual spending, budget analysts may write a report explaining the variations and recommend changes to reconcile the differences.

Budget analysts working in government may attend committee hearings to explain their recommendations to legislators. Occasionally, budget analysts may evaluate how well a program is doing, provide policy analysis, and draft budget-related legislation.

Budget analysts held about 56,900 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of budget analysts were as follows:

Federal government 21%
Educational services; state, local, and private 13
Professional, scientific, and technical services 11
State government, excluding education and hospitals 11
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 10

Although budget analysts usually work in offices, some may travel to get budget details firsthand or to verify funding allocations.

Work Schedules

Most budget analysts work full time, and overtime is sometimes required during final reviews of budgets. The pressures of deadlines and tight work schedules can be stressful.

A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a budget analyst. Courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful.

Education

Employers generally require budget analysts to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Because developing a budget requires strong numerical and analytical skills, courses in accounting, economics, and statistics are helpful. Federal, state, and local governments have varying requirements, but usually require a bachelor’s degree in one of many areas, such as accounting, finance, business, public administration, economics, statistics, political science, or sociology.

Sometimes, budget-related or finance-related work experience can be substituted for formal education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Government budget analysts may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager credential from the Association of Government Accountants. To earn this certification, candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, 24 credit hours of study in financial management, and 2 years of professional-level experience in governmental financial management. They must also pass a series of exams. To keep the certification, budget analysts must take 80 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Budget analysts must be able to process a variety of information, evaluate costs and benefits, and solve complex problems.

Communication skills. Budget analysts need strong communication skills because they often have to explain and defend their analyses and recommendations in meetings and legislative committee hearings.

Detail oriented. Creating an efficient budget requires careful analysis of each budget item.

Math skills. Most budget analysts need math skills and should be able to use certain software, including spreadsheets, database functions, and financial analysis programs.

Writing skills. Budget analysts must present technical information in writing that is understandable to the intended audience.

The median annual wage for budget analysts was $76,220 in May 2018.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $116,300.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for budget analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $83,890
Federal government 82,200
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 71,420
Educational services; state, local, and private 66,350
State government, excluding education and hospitals 65,420

Most budget analysts work full time, and overtime is sometimes required during final reviews of budgets. The pressures of deadlines and tight work schedules can be stressful.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, budget analysts have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union.

Budget Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2018

Budget analysts

$76,220

Financial specialists

$70,770

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

Employment of budget analysts is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Demand for efficient use of public funds at the federal, state, and local levels will lead to continued demand for budget analysts. Although many states are facing budget shortfalls, employment of these workers should remain steady. Because budget analysts are responsible for managing the allocation of resources, the need for these workers remains even during times of tight budgets.

Job Prospects

Since this occupation has relatively few job openings due to separations, jobseekers are likely to face competition for the limited number of budget analyst positions.

Employment projections data for budget analysts, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Budget analysts

13-2031 56,900 59,400 4 2,400 Get data

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of budget analysts.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2018

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.

Bachelor’s degree $70,500

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor’s degree $64,040

Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master’s degree $104,340

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.

Bachelor’s degree $85,660

Financial Managers

Financial managers produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Bachelor’s degree $127,990

Management Analysts

Management analysts propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency.

Bachelor’s degree $83,610

Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents determine how much is owed in taxes and collect tax from individuals and businesses on behalf of the government.

Bachelor’s degree $54,440

Actuaries

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty.

Bachelor’s degree $102,880

Financial Examiners

Financial examiners ensure compliance with laws governing financial institutions and transactions.

Bachelor’s degree $80,180

Insurance Underwriters

Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.

Bachelor’s degree $69,380

For information about the Government Financial Manager certification, visit

Association of Government Accountants

O*NET

Budget Analysts


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Budget Analysts,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm (visited ).


 

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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