Budget Analyst vs. Financial Analyst: Which Career Is Right For You? (2024)

Each decision a business makes matters. Every expenditure or investment provides opportunities for financial gain or a loss that could have major repercussions. Businesses, organizations, and local and national governments rely on financial professionals to help them analyze their potential expenditures and investments, ensuring they make intelligent decisions for their financial benefit and long-term sustainability.

Budget Analyst vs. Financial Analyst: Which Career Is Right For You? (1)

Two types of professionals who help organizations understand their financial standing and make informed decisions are budget analysts and financial analysts. These financial experts fill a crucial role in the decisions of many businesses, helping them rein in spending or mitigate the effects of bad investments, ultimately contributing to fiscal responsibility. Continue reading to learn more about these two professions, their job markets, and the educational background that could help you step into a career in the field.

Budget Analyst Overview

Budget analysts review organizations’ internal budgets to ensure they’re spending their money responsibly. They help companies compile their current and estimated future spending, as well as revenues, determining how much money they should spend, save, or invest. Budget analysts also assist businesses in organizing their finances, making it easier for accountants and tax professionals to file tax returns and keep businesses within legal boundaries.

Budget Analyst Salaries and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 56,900 budget analysts working in the United States as of May 2018, earning a median annual salary of $76,220. The bottom 10% of budget analysts earned approximately $49,860 each year, while the top 10% earned as much as $116,300. The industry that paid the highest median annual salary was professional, scientific, and technical services ($83,890), followed by the federal government ($82,200), local government ($71,420), educational services ($66,350), and state government ($65,420).

The BLS projects the job market for budget analysts to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028, which is in line with the national average. That means there will be 2,400 new job openings for budget analysts, bringing the total market up to 59,400 jobs. The BLS projects the federal government will employ 11,800 budget analysts; educational services will employ 8,000; professional, scientific, and technical services will employ 7,500; and local and state government will each employ 6,100.

Financial Analyst Overview

Financial analysts guide businesses or individuals in making investment decisions. Instead of analyzing their employers’ documents, they analyze other businesses’ financial sheets and the corresponding markets. Through this process, they help determine whether their employers should invest money, withdraw money, or hold steady. Financial analysts examine current and historical financial data, market trends, projections, tax returns, and other documents to get a clear financial picture of a business, investment opportunity, or scenario. They then provide recommendations based on that research and industry knowledge.

Financial Analyst Salaries and Job Outlook

The BLS indicated there were 329,500 financial analysts working in the United States as of May 2018, making a median annual salary of $85,660. The bottom 10% of financial analysts earned approximately $52,540, while the top 10% earned as much as $167,420 each year. The industry that paid the highest median annual salary was securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments ($101,410), followed by professional, scientific, and technical services ($85,540); management of companies and enterprises ($83,640); credit intermediation and related activities ($81,420); and insurance carriers and related activities ($78,870).

The BLS projects the job market for financial analysts to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028, which is slightly above the national average during the same time span (5%). That growth equates to 20,300 new domestic financial analyst jobs. Jobs in computer systems and related design should jump 24.3%, with 2,000 new positions in that industry, while professional, scientific, and technical services will add 6,700 jobs, a 15.3% jump.

Similarities Between Budget Analyst and Financial Analyst

Budget analysts and financial analysts are financial professionals who most often work in the business offices of different industries. These careers involve working with numbers, spreadsheets, tables, and projections, and professionals in both aspire to create accurate analyses of a business, industry, or investment. Budget analysts and financial analysts answer questions for their employers or clients, such as whether an investment or expenditure is wise. Both careers are in growing job markets, and at times, these professionals fulfill the same responsibilities in certain companies.

Differences Between Budget Analyst and Financial Analyst

While budget analysts and financial analysts have some similarities and sometimes perform similar job duties, there are several aspects of these professions that set them apart. Their educational backgrounds, specific responsibilities, and common work environments are some of the ways in which these jobs differ.


Budget analysts benefit from an undergraduate degree that emphasizes accounting or finance. This often means aspiring budget analysts major in business, mathematics, or statistics. These programs enable them to run complex calculations and understand the financial spreadsheets they’ll be poring over.

As financial analysts deal more with projections and markets, they benefit from an undergraduate degree that emphasizes computers, technology, and other technical skills, though knowledge of finance or accounting is still necessary. Finance degrees with courses in data science or computer science-related topics can lead to jobs in financial analysis.

Analysis Responsibility

Budget analysts perform their job duties to help businesses control spending or to spend more wisely. They do not evaluate potential investments, analyze markets, or otherwise analyze situations external to the company. Instead, they focus on cash flow and revenue, making sure the company isn’t operating with unmanageable debt.

Financial analysts give businesses advice on potential investments and provide counsel so they can make wise financial decisions. Their job involves projecting the future in different industries and markets and understanding how trends will continue or change beyond the current fiscal year.

Work Environment

The most common work environment for budget analysts is in government, at any level. Government budget analysts ensure public accountability and track spending in areas where every dollar is important. They also work in financial firms, healthcare, and education.

Financial analysts work in industries that generate enough money to make investments. They tend to work in banks, financial institutions, credit unions, and other types of companies that invest and diversify portfolios up to millions of dollars.

Budget Analyst vs. Financial Analyst: Which Is Right for You?

If you’re interested in a career in financial or budget analysis, an advanced degree in a numbers-centric discipline can help you stand out in the crowd. Whether you’re interested in crunching numbers and creating a budget for a single institution or broadly analyzing markets, a degree that offers practical skills and business strategies can boost your ability to step into a rewarding role in either profession. Explore how Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Accounting can help you prepare to guide the financial decisions of an organization and lead it to success.

Recommended Readings
Four Reasons to Get Your Master’s in Accounting Online

How Technology Is Shaping the Future of Accounting

The Future of Finance and Tax for Accountants and Business Managers

BizFluent, “What Is the Difference Between Financial Analyst & Budget Analyst in Addition to an Accountant?”

Career Builder, “So You Want to Become a Financial Analyst?”

Houston Chronicle, “Attributes of a Budget Analyst”

Investopedia, “A Career as a Financial or Business Analyst?”

Maryville University, Master of Science in Accounting Online

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts

As an expert in the field of finance and accounting, I bring a wealth of knowledge from both academic study and practical experience. My understanding of financial concepts is grounded in a comprehensive education in finance, economics, and accounting, coupled with hands-on experience in financial analysis and budgeting within various organizational contexts. This background allows me to provide an informed perspective on the roles and responsibilities of budget analysts and financial analysts, as well as the broader financial landscape in which they operate.

The article you mentioned discusses two critical professions in the financial sector: budget analysts and financial analysts. Let's delve into the key concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Financial Gain and Loss: Every business decision has the potential to lead to profit or loss. Understanding the financial implications of these decisions is crucial for long-term sustainability.

  2. Role of Financial Professionals: Financial analysts and budget analysts are vital in guiding organizations (including businesses and governments) in making informed financial decisions.

  3. Budget Analyst Overview:

    • Role: Budget analysts are responsible for reviewing and managing an organization's budget. They ensure responsible spending and help in planning future expenditures and revenues.
    • Skills Required: Proficiency in accounting and financial management, as well as strong analytical and organizational skills.
  4. Budget Analyst Salaries and Job Outlook:

    • The article provides specific salary ranges and job growth projections for budget analysts in the U.S., based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  5. Financial Analyst Overview:

    • Role: Financial analysts focus on investment decisions. They analyze financial statements, market trends, and other economic indicators to advise on investments.
    • Skills Required: Strong analytical skills, understanding of financial markets, and the ability to interpret complex financial data.
  6. Financial Analyst Salaries and Job Outlook:

    • The article also includes salary ranges and job growth projections for financial analysts, as per BLS data.
  7. Similarities and Differences:

    • Both professions require strong analytical skills and a deep understanding of financial concepts. However, their focus areas differ: budget analysts concentrate on internal budget management, while financial analysts look at external investment opportunities.
  8. Educational Background:

    • Budget Analysts: Typically have a background in accounting, finance, business, mathematics, or statistics.
    • Financial Analysts: Often have education in finance, but may also benefit from knowledge in data science, computer science, or technology.
  9. Analysis Responsibility and Work Environment:

    • Budget analysts focus on internal financial health, while financial analysts look at broader market and investment opportunities.
    • The work environments vary, with budget analysts commonly found in government and public sectors, and financial analysts in banking, investment firms, and other financial institutions.
  10. Advanced Degrees:

    • Advanced degrees, such as a Master's in Accounting, can enhance one's ability to succeed in these roles, providing specialized skills and knowledge.

Understanding these roles and the educational pathways to them is essential for anyone considering a career in these fields. Both budget and financial analysts play a crucial role in guiding the financial health and strategy of their respective organizations.

Budget Analyst vs. Financial Analyst: Which Career Is Right For You? (2024)
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