What Is a Budget Analyst?

Budget analyst working on laptop

Every type of organization—from large corporations to nonprofits—needs to maintain an accurate and balanced budget. Executives and managers need a clear, real-time financial picture of where their organization stands in order to make informed decisions for its future. The person in charge of providing this vital information is the budget analyst.

What is a budget analyst and what exactly do they do? Essentially, a budget analyst is a professional number-cruncher who guides the organization toward fiscally prudent decisions that fuel and sustain growth. These professionals play an important role in companies and other organizations, and you can learn more about them in this career guide.

What Is a Budget Analyst?

As the job title suggests, a budget analyst is primarily responsible for an organization’s budget. These professionals develop, maintain and analyze the budget, ensure the organization is using its resources as efficiently as possible and advise executives about the financial condition of the organization. They also prepare and analyze financial statements and reports, maintain transactional records and explore emerging trends in their industry.

What Does a Budget Analyst Do?

Now that you know the answer to the question “What is a budget analyst?” it’s time to explore a typical workday for a budget analyst. Here’s a look at some of the tasks these professionals perform on a routine basis.

  • Develop the organization’s budget in consultation with department heads and senior executives
  • Analyze funding requests and budget proposals to ensure that they are accurate and complete
  • Work with project managers to develop budget alternatives when necessary
  • Ensure the organization’s compliance with all applicable laws and regulations
  • Regularly monitor departmental spending with an eye toward preventing overspending
  • Analyze the organization’s projected financial needs

A budget analyst typically will not have the final say as to whether or not a budget or funding proposal is approved—that responsibility usually lies with an executive. However, the analyst provides the financial information and funding recommendations the executive needs to make an informed decision.

Where Do Budget Analysts Work?

Budget analysts work in all sectors and industries. They may work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations or for-profit corporations. One setting where you will not typically find a budget analyst is at a small business; these professionals usually work at organizations that need to manage large budgets and significant financial resources.

How To Become a Budget Analyst With a Business Analytics Degree

If the thought of becoming a budget analyst appeals to you, your first step after high school is to earn a bachelor’s degree. There is no strict requirement regarding the type of bachelor’s degree needed for this career. However, you should definitely plan on earning some type of business degree.

For example, you could earn a business analytics degree or a degree in accounting or finance. Alternatively, if you plan on working at a governmental agency, a public administration degree may be appropriate. A business analytics degree may prove particularly fruitful for aspiring budget analysts, as it will explore 21st-century topics like data mining and the analysis of raw datasets with an eye toward using this information to make solid organizational decisions.

You’ll also have the option to declare a minor if you wish. If you decide to major in business analytics, then you may wish to minor in accounting, finance, public administration or a similar subject. A minor in communications can also be a smart choice, as budget analysts need to collaborate effectively with a range of people, from senior executives to project managers.

Does an Aspiring Budget Analyst Need a Master’s Degree?

It’s not absolutely mandatory to have a master’s degree to become a budget analyst. You can land an entry-level job in this field with just a bachelor’s degree. Your job prospects may be broadened if you decide to pursue an internship opportunity while in college or shortly after graduation.

However, some employers do prefer to hire budget analysts with a master’s degree. You’ll find that you’re better able to pursue higher-level job opportunities with a graduate degree in accounting, business analytics or a similar area. Depending on your particular preferences, you may decide to jump right into the workforce and earn a master’s degree later on, or you may choose to immediately advance to grad school after earning your bachelor’s degree.

What Can a Budget Analyst Do to Enhance Their Job Qualifications?

In addition to earning a master’s degree in order to pursue higher-level job positions, budget analysts may choose to earn an optional certificate to improve their job prospects. Those who choose to work for governmental agencies may earn the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM®) credential, which is conferred by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). However, you won’t be able to earn this credential straight out of college.

In order to qualify for this credential, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Verify compliance with AGA’s code of ethics
  • Prove the completion of a bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrate the completion of at least two years of professional-level experience in a position related to governmental finance management
  • Pass the credentialing exam

Note that you may apply for and take the exam before gaining at least two years of experience. However, you cannot be awarded the credential until you fulfill all of the requirements.

There are also credentialing possibilities for non-governmental budget analysts, including the following:

  • Certified Budget Specialist (CBS®), conferred by the American Association for Investment and Financial Management (AAIFM)
  • Certified Budget Analyst (CBA), conferred by the International Academy of Business and Financial Management (IABFM™)

Essential Skills and Characteristics of a Budget Analyst

While you’re working through your studies in college, gaining work experience and becoming certified, you can actively cultivate the important skills and traits of an effective budget analyst. These include the following:

  • Attention to detail
  • Organization
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning
  • Mathematics skills
  • Computer literacy

If you have a knack for numbers and an eye for detail, you can begin pursuing your career aspirations when you earn a business analytics degree at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics degree program thoroughly prepares students to apply analytical reasoning to raw datasets in a way that fuels smart business decision-making. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to explore the possibilities at GCU.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.