A typical 4-year finance undergraduate program provides knowledge of financial management and accounting principles. Prospective students need a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Degrees in the field of finance are usually available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Budget managers and analysts must have at least a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or business administration. In addition, most employers require budget managers to have 3-5 years of financial management experience.
Budget managers must be detail-oriented and have a technical eye for financial and accounting reports. They must be able to objectively evaluate financial objectives, monitor financial accounts, and provide analysis of financial operations; they must also be able to communicate with other business professionals. Presentation and public speaking skills are necessary in order to give financial presentations. Budget managers must be comfortable working with financial computer programs and accounting software.
Bachelor of Science in Finance
A bachelor's degree program in finance prepares students to use statistics, financial formulas, and economic concepts for financial budgeting and forecasting. Students learn different strategies used by various businesses and government agencies. Typical courses include:
- Financial accounting and cost accounting
- Financial management and decision-making
- Strategic cost analysis
- Investments and insurance
- Risk management
- Financial statistics
Popular Career Options
Employers typically hire budget analysts and managers with 3-5 years of financial management or accounting experience. Entry-level positions may be available to analysts with little experience, while senior budget analyst and high-level management positions may require up to 10 years of experience. Budget analysts can gain job experience through internship programs or by obtaining lower-level financial, banking or accounting positions.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts an employment growth of 3% for budget analysts for the years 2014 through 2024. The BLS also notes that the median annual wage for these workers was $71,590 as of May 2015.
There are no licensure or certification requirements for budget analysts and managers. However, budget analysts employed by the government can obtain voluntary certification from Advancing Government Accountability, an organization focused on financial professionals working for federal, state, and local government agencies. Budget managers who meet the minimum requirements can become certified government financial managers. In order to obtain this certification, managers must have a bachelor's degree in finance, accounting or business, pass three separate exams, obtain 24 academic hours of study in financial management, and have at least two years of financial management experience with a government agency. Budget managers must complete 80 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain certification.
Universities may hold 1- and 2-day seminars for students enrolled in finance or accounting programs. Some workshops may be taken for credit, while others are voluntary and can add supplementary information to a school's financial management curriculum. Employers may also offer short seminars for newly hired budget analysts looking to become familiar with a particular financial management system. Government agencies, which employ a significant percentage of budget analysts and managers, may also hold seminars and training sessions on financial management, risk management, and cost analysis.
With more than ten years of financial experience, budget managers and analysts can become senior analysts or higher-level financial managers. Budget analysts and managers may increase advancement opportunities by obtaining a master's degree in business administration or financial management. Many executive financial management positions require a master's degree and significant financial management experience.
The American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (www.aabpa.org) offers career development resources for budget analysts, managers, and consultants. The organization offers budget management publications, including Public Budgeting & Finance, and a collection of notes and slides from budget management meetings and symposiums. Membership to the organization can provide invaluable networking and employment opportunities.
An undergraduate degree in finance or related fields can prepare students for the tasks involved in budget management, analysis, and spending. Those who gain a bachelor's degree have a number of professional growth options to advance in their careers and extensive work experience can highly improve job prospects.