Budget analysts are expert financial planners who develop realistic and responsible budgets for companies, from nonprofit organizations and charities to governments and corporations. Using sophisticated software to collect and process data about a company, budget analysts look for ways to increase profits while minimizing costs, in turn creating more efficient and high-performing businesses. In the case of governments, budget analysts work as policy advisors, helping to draft budget legislation.
Budget analysts are extremely important members of a company or other organization that uses and generates funds. They examine budgets closely, testing for accuracy, conformance with regulations and completeness. They concern themselves with legal matters as well as maximizing profits because these can cause problems for companies down the road. They develop alternatives in the case that an original budget does not work as planned. Writing up reports, evaluating profit data, monitoring progress and advising executives on budgetary matters are all part of the job as well.
Budget analysts typically work in comfortable office settings. As of 2008, 48 percent of budget analysts worked 40 hours a week; 11 percent worked over 50 hours a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their work is largely independent, with many hours spent gathering and analyzing data through computer software programs. Travel is sometimes part of the job in cases where budget analysts need to visit a location to verify funding data.
Most budget analysts need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, statistics, public administration, business, political science or sociology, though some positions require a master’s degree as well. Most training happens on the job and typically takes a full year to complete, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Budget analysts also take professional development classes throughout their career to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in technology and learn new skills. Recommended qualities include high level of integrity, strong analytical skills, solid oral and written communication skills, and the ability to work well under pressure.
Employment outlook for budget analysts in the United States is quite solid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for budget analysts will grow by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018. As of 2008, the country was home to 67,000 budget analysts, 41 percent of which worked for the government. Candidates who hold a master’s degree have a better chance of employers hiring them than those who do not.