How to Start a Career as a Budget Analyst: Steps, Training, and Certifications
Are you interested in a career in budget analysis? In today’s business environment, budget analysts play a critical role in ensuring that companies allocate their resources efficiently and effectively. If you enjoy working with numbers and spreadsheets and are interested in financial planning and analysis, you may find this career path to be a good fit.
Who is a Budget Analyst?
A budget analyst is a professional who evaluates financial data and creates budgets for organizations. They review financial reports, monitor spending, and provide recommendations to management on how to improve financial performance. Budget analysts also use financial modelling and analysis software to forecast future financial outcomes.
They work with spreadsheets and numbers to distribute funds to different departments. Their work can be highly transferable to other administrative positions such as management analyst, program analyst, or administrative officer.
Here are some steps to help you start your career in budget analysis.
Step 1: Get a Degree or Certification
The first step in starting a career in budget analysis is to get a degree in finance, accounting, or a related field. A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is typically required for most entry-level budget analyst positions. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree in business administration or finance.
Some certifications are location specific, i.e. not globally recognised but relevant in your location of practice, while some are internationally recognised. Zippia highlights some of the globally recognised certificates in budget analytics and the issuing organisation.
Preparing for Certification Exams
Certifications can help boost your career prospects as a budget analyst. However, preparing for certification exams can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you prepare effectively:
- Practice past questions
- Get guidance from those who have passed the exam
- Get enough rest
- Approach the exam with a confident mind
Step 2: Read Books
Reading books is an excellent way to gain knowledge and insights into budget analysis. Here are some recommended books to get started:
- The Basics of Budgeting by Ronald Schmidt and Robert C. Palmer: This book provides a comprehensive overview of budgeting, including the budgeting process, forecasting, and financial analysis.
- Financial Analysis and Decision Making: Tools and Techniques to Solve Financial Problems and Make Effective Business Decisions by David E. Vance: This book offers practical tools and techniques to help budget analysts make effective financial decisions.
- The Complete CFO Handbook: From Accounting to Accountability by Frank J. Fabozzi: This book is a comprehensive guide to financial management, including budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis.
Step 3: Get Experience
To build your portfolio, consider working on your own projects or participating in internships. An internship in finance or accounting can provide you with valuable hands-on experience in budget analysis. Alternatively, you can volunteer to help local non-profit organizations with their budgets.
Step 4: Get an Entry-level Job
Entry-level jobs in budget analysis typically require some experience or certification. An entry-level job in finance or accounting can provide you with the necessary skills and experience to move up to a budget analyst position. Look for positions such as financial analyst, accounting assistant, or junior budget analyst.
Step 5: Get an Actual Job
Impressing the hiring team with your abilities and potential is crucial to securing a budget analyst job. Here are some things you can do to prepare:
- Create a powerful and persuasive resume that highlights your skills and experience in financial analysis.
- Develop a job plan and carefully consider your applications for each position.
- Practice responses to common budget analyst interview questions.
- Be prepared to negotiate your salary.
- Take advantage of the first week to learn as much as you can about the company’s budgeting process and financial management procedures.
There is ample opportunity to specialise in the field of budget analytics. Below are some of the areas you can specialise in:
- Government Budget Analyst
- Corporate Budget Analyst
- Non-profit Budget Analyst
Additionally, there is also room for growth in administrative positions such as management analyst, program analyst, or administrative officer.
Expected Budget Analyst Salary Range
Salaries for budget analyst jobs vary, depending on experience and level, with typical salaries ranging from around $65,000 to $100,000.
What to Expect When Building a Career in Budget Analysis
There is a steep learning curve at first, but after 2-3 years, the work becomes manageable. It may take some time to become familiar with the budget cycles and the way things work in your organization. Deadlines are frequent but extremely predictable, and the job is very flexible. Budget analyst jobs typically require 40 hours of work per week, with authorized overtime available at the end of the fiscal year. Telework is often available, which allows for flexibility in scheduling and working from home.
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