Budget analysis is a growing field that is appealing to individuals who wish to work either for the federal government or for the private sector. Budget analysts work closely with the chief financial officer and the comptroller analyzing budgets to ensure fiscal efficiency, to develop accounting policies, and to implement accounting procedures. At the professional level, they typically work with minimum direct supervision in their field.
Budget analysts receive large salaries. Unlike accountants who work for company departments, budget analysts may be contract specialists. They typically have an auditing background. They complete a difficult educational program, enroll in continuing education coursework, and choose to certify their knowledge. With continuing education and professional development, budget analysts may earn as high as $100,000 working in the private sector.
The specific salary for budget analysts is determined by a number of factors. Budget analysts must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting and must supplement their education with coursework in budget analysis and professional reporting. Analysts who are certified may earn more than those who just have a bachelor’s degree.
Other factors come to play. Entry-level salaries and salary caps are based upon experience and the employer’s size. Most budget analysts earn more working for the private sector than working for the federal government. On the other hand, jobs are more secure in the federal government. Budget analysis is a highly competitive field. In the private sector, there are more people applying for the job then there are positions available.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for budget analysts is $65,000. Budget analysts who work as aerospace analysts earn approximately $70,830. Analysts who work as managers or directors earn $70,460. This is slightly less than aerospace analysts. The highest ten percent of budget analysts earn approximately $100,000, with 50% earning between $50,000 and $82,000. Government budget analysts typically earn $20,000 less than analysts working in the private sector.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Certification and professional organizations require budget analysts to have a working knowledge of accounting procedures and federal reporting laws. In general, budget analysts distribute financial resources. They develop budgets and estimate financial need. They work in the private sector and some not-for-profit organizations. They also work as civil servants, evaluating budget policies, budget legislation, and budget performance. They create and adopt policies. They train and carry out budget procedures.
Budget analysts also review financial proposals for budget allocation. They consolidate budgets and submit financial summaries to upper management. To carry out their tasks, they employ specific accounting and software tools. They work entirely with spreadsheets and software for financial analysis. They typically work forty-hour weeks and exceed these hours during quarterly and annual budget review schedules. They work under strict time limits.
The career outlook for recent graduates of accounting programs is very positive. The demand for budget analysts is expected to increase as opportunities will vary based upon geographic location, professional level and experience, educational program, and industry. Budget analysts who typically work in the manufacturing industry and for scientific organizations earn more than those who work in management and professional services.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Entry-level budget analysts must hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a similar field.
Most industries and organizations require a master’s degree with supplementary work in auditing and professional reporting. In general, budget analysts must supplement their studies with coursework in several accounting areas: cost, management, financial, and investment.
In addition, budget analysts must have some experience working in the field, even entry-level analysts. For example, recent graduates are expected to have gained experience working as a club treasurer or serving as a president of an student accounting organization. Recent graduates who do not have experience may substitute experience with a certificate in finance coursework.
In all cases, budget analysts must take continuing education coursework and be strong communicators, orally and in written form.
Budget analysts are not required to be certified in their field. Entry-level analysts are managed closely with limited financial and budget responsibilities. They gain on-the-job training, learning financial cycle systems. Although they are not required to be certified, they are encouraged to join professional organizations that offer certification programs and coursework.
Budget analysts working for the federal government may pursue the Certified Government Financial Manager designation. The certification is conferred by the Advancing Government Accountability organization. It is granted to government analysts who work in financial accountability offices. To earn the certification, budget analysts must have at least two years of professional experience, some experience in government budget analysis, and they must pass a three-part exam that covers coursework in government accounting, financial management and reporting, and the government environment. The certification is good for two years and renewable on the condition that professional budget analysts in the field enroll in a minimum of eighty hours of continuing education coursework.
Budget Analysts may also pursue a certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Budget analysts may apply to become a member of the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA). The AABPA is a membership organization that serves as a career link for budget analysts pursing full-time work in the field. The organization provides courses and seminars in professional development and they post job leads on their website. Potential members may join and receive such benefits as journal publications and manuscript submission opportunities.
Budget analysts who are also Certified Public Accountants are qualified to join the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The AICPA is a membership advocacy organization. It also provides membership benefits that include networking seminars, professional development programs, and partner discounts. Members also receive the Journal of Accountancy.
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