A budget analyst examines an organization or entity’s cash inflows and outflows, along with other raw financial data, then condenses and summarizes that data. This data analysis is used to identify areas in which capital could be deployed more effectively and make recommendations to management personnel who make the final decisions regarding the budget and strategic deployment of the entity’s capital. If you have any reservations about spending your days working with numbers, you may want to consider a different profession.
How Much Schooling Will I Need?
At a minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You may also want to consider getting a master’s degree in a field such as accounting, finance or business administration to increase the depth and breadth of your analytical skills.
What Do I Need to Study in School?
You do not need to choose a specific undergraduate major to begin your career. Although some background in accounting, finance, economics and business administration may be helpful, they certainly are not requisite. Regardless of your major, you will want to take classes in microeconomics, macroeconomics, corporate finance, financial accounting, cost accounting, marketing, statistics and probability for business, econometrics, organizational theory and management, individual federal income taxation, corporate and partnership taxation, nonprofit management, international economics, business law and financial markets, among others, to build a solid academic foundation for your professional life.
Where Can I Work?
Pretty much anywhere. Yes, really. Any entity that makes or spends money needs to allocate its funds, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for doing so. Whether you want to work at a financial services firm; in the nonprofit sector; at a local, state or federal government agency; or in a healthcare organization, job opportunities will be available for you.
How Do I Get a Job?
If you want your pick of jobs or employers, above all else you will need superlative grades. Many elite employers—including, for example, the top management consulting firms and the Big 4 accounting firms in the biggest markets—only interview job candidates with GPAs of 3.5 or better. This means you will need to stay highly focused on your schoolwork throughout your degree program. Aside from having an impeccable transcript, the best way to set yourself apart from other applicants is to have developed a professional network of people who can direct you to jobs or employers they believe may interest you, and who will likely provide excellent references. Find people who already have the type of job you would eventually like to have, reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to talk to you about their careers. They will probably say yes, and will be impressed that you sought them out.
Businesses and other organizational entities are making and spending more money than ever before, and they need direction about how they can best do both. If you are an intellectually curious person who values job security and enjoys working with numbers, a career as a budget analyst may be right for you.