Budget Analyst

All businesses or organizations need to properly allocate their money to meet their payroll and other financial obligations. Because managing money is a difficult task for large companies, they hire budget analysts. Budget analysts develop company budgets and make projections for future obligations.

Budget analysts work for government agencies, nonprofit charities, and private businesses. Private companies hire budget analysts to cut waste and develop strategies to increase revenues. Those working for government agencies and nonprofit charities determine the best uses for their organizations' finances.

Because of recent economic downturn, lower revenues have caused many businesses and government agencies to cut staffs and operations, expanding the responsibilities of budget analysts. Budget analysts also provide input into company or organizational policies, evaluate the effectiveness of organizational operations, and those working for government agencies may assist legislators draft proposed legislation concerning budgets. Moreover, government budget analysts also train employees whenever budget policies are altered.

Budget analysts examine budgets presented to them by their organizations at the beginning of a fiscal cycle. Budget analysts determine how much money an organization requires to fund its operations and strategies for increasing revenues or attracting additional funding.

Moreover, budget analysts review budgets to ensure accuracy and compliance with laws and organizational policies and goals. They often utilize an analytical strategy known as cost-benefit analysis to determine the soundness and effectiveness of an organization's fiscal policies, and if necessary, make changes to these policies. Budget analysts also review budgets from previous years and conduct research to determine what fiscal changes could affect cash flow and spending. BY doing this, budget analysts can offer management advice when they propose fiscal policies changes.

Once a budget has been reviewed, budget analysts combine each division's proposed budgets into capital budget and operating summaries. In these reports, budget analysts provide reasons why proposed funding should or should not be granted and these reports are handed to upper management or elected representatives if it's a government agencies budget. When requests are denied, budget analysts collaborate with the CEO, upper management, or the head of an agency to discuss alternative solutions. A company's CEO or the elected representatives responsible for a certain jurisdiction decide whether to adopt a budget.

After a budget has been adopted, analysts occasionally examine accounting reports to verify whether money is being spent as planned. When there are differences between expenditures and the budget, budget analysts prepare detailed reports for management listing discrepancies, and offering solutions, such as making cuts or moving money from another department or program. They also have the responsibility to update program managers about money available to them. When an organization wants to launch a new program, budget analysts must determine whether a new program will fit into existing budgets and benefit the company. Certain analysts participate in long term financial planning.

Budget analysts are now able to review increased quantities of information with the aid of financial computer software, databases, and electronic spreadsheets.

Work Environment
Budget analysts spend their days in relaxing offices reviewing data and preparing possible budgets by themselves. Analysts occasionally travel to review budget details personally or make sure money has reached distant projects.

A budget analyst's schedule will vary during budget development and finalization and mid and annual reviews. Most budget analysts work between 35-44 hours weekly while a small percentage work more hours. Since they often must meet deadlines, working as a budget analyst can be a stressful job.

Education and Training
While a bachelor’s degree is usually sufficient for budget analysts to obtain work, some companies may require applicants to have master’s degrees. It’s important for a budget analyst to be well schooled in numerical and analytical skills, so classes in accounting and statistics will be critical. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can qualify you for government, state or local work. Degrees in areas such as finance, political science, accounting, public administration, statistics, sociology and business are encouraged.

It may be necessary for budget analysts working for the government to obtain specific certifications, such as the one needed as a Certified Government Financial Manager. Qualifying for this certification requires a bachelor’s degree, financial management study, professional experience up to two years and strict exams. Continuing education is required to keep this certification.

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Budget analysts can expect a median wage of $69,280 (May 2012). At the low end, 10 percent of employees in this occupation earn around $45,720. At the top end of the scale, 10 percent brought home more than $103,590.

Job Outlook
While the pay rates are encouraging, budget analyst employment is expected to grow around six percent from 2012-2022, which is a slower rate than for other lines of work. The challenge for a budget analyst is to stay abreast of all the new date types and statistical techniques, which are constantly changing. The complexities of budget analyst work is expected to aid in the growth of this employment area.

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