Much like weather forecasters predict weather patterns, forecast analysts use current data of the company they are employed by to predict future production levels and future sales. From this information they can analyze trends in the market to suggest optimal means of production to their company to obtain the most profits. Entry level positions for this profession usually require bachelor's degrees, but more advanced research positions require higher levels of education.
A forecast analyst is an economics specialist who examines inventory levels, speed of production, and demand for product to ascertain a company's optimal production levels and potential future sales. These analysts make use of several types of measurement and financial modeling to make accurate predictions. They may work with several departments or regional teams in culling information and developing reports. A forecast analyst's job is to research how to capitalize on existing trends as well as identify new and developing trends and sales opportunities in the market. A bachelor's degree is necessary for most forecast analysis positions, and a master's degree is often preferred for higher-level roles.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; master's degree or certificate may be required for higher-level research positions|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) *||8% for economists|
|Average Annual Salary (2018) *||$116,020 for economists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Duties of a Forecast Analyst
A key duty of forecast analysts is to recognize, follow, and analyze trends in the market. They research historical data to map trends and determine how they will influence the business. They must then prepare and present reports, charts, and tables detailing these market factors to company heads to help inform marketing and production strategy decisions. In addition to these duties, analysts must also routinely examine their own methodologies to find ways of improving predictive accuracy.
The forecast analyst role requires familiarity with finance documentation and database software. Leadership skills are also often required.
Forecast Analyst Education Requirements
Graduates with a bachelor's degree can qualify for entry-level forecast analyst positions, often working under the direction of a senior analyst. A master's degree is usually necessary for higher-level research jobs and senior roles. While in college, the prospective forecast analyst should seek classes in research, data analysis, statistics, economics, and finance.
Bachelor's Degree in Economics
Undergraduate study for an aspiring forecast analyst can be a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in economics. Topics covered for the bachelor's degree typically include resource allocation, industry organization, unemployment and inflation, international trade and finance, budgeting, and the government's impact on the economy. Students prepare for jobs in financial services, consulting firms, healthcare, government agencies, and non-profits.
Master's Degree in Economics
A master's degree program in economics prepares students for mid-level work performing economic analysis and forecasting in both the public and private sectors. It may be offered with a concentration in forecasting or applied economics. Courses typically entail economic forecast and analysis, econometrics, microeconomic theory, and macroeconomic theory.
Graduate Certificate in Economic Forecasting
This is a shorter program focusing on quantitative methods, data analysis and forecasting, which may qualify graduates for some forecast analyst positions. Some certificate programs are designed to meet the standards of the International Institute of Forecasters. Courses may be available online and include statistics, econometrics, macroeconomic forecasting, and macroeconometrics. Some schools may offer this program as an alternative to taking a broader master's degree program. Other schools provide the certificate program as a means of gaining additional specialized training for students who already possess a master's degree in economics or finance.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report salary and career data specific to forecast analysts, it does provide information for economists, the category under which forecasters fall. The BLS projects that the employment of economists as a whole will grow faster than average by approximately 8% between 2018 and 2028. Additionally, the Bureau reported the average annual salary earned by economists as $116,020 in May 2018. Those economists working in the legal services industry earned an average of $228,620 a year in 2018.
Forecast analyst can be of vital importance to a company's success as these professionals have a thorough understanding of marketing trends, and production efficiency. These things in tandem can make or break a company's financial success; more accurate analysis means more profitable business decisions.