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How to Become a Budget Manager

If you are looking for a career opportunity in accounting or finance, becoming a budget manager is a great way to use your skills and experience. Budget managers create, implement, and evaluate budgets and cost projections within organizations to ensure that projects and accounts are managed in a cost-effective manner. This role requires solid analytical and negotiation skills and a strong sense of business strategy. 

A budget manager ensures that the funds allocated for different projects are spent correctly and that they stay on budget. To excel in this position, you will need to analyze budgets, develop strategic and growth plans, collaborate with stakeholders, and create reports on projections, costs, and expenditures.

Sample job description

We are seeking a highly motivated budget manager to work with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Department of Transportation, and other government agencies. The budget manager is responsible for managing departmental funds by tracking expenditures, investigating discrepancies, and participating in investigations. The ideal candidate will have experience working with large-scale budgets or on complex projects. Candidates will need strong analytical skills as well as excellent communication skills. A bachelor’s degree is required. Previous experience in public accounting, finance, or budgeting is helpful but not required.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Manage departmental funds
  • Evaluate and develop financial models to measure performance
  • Investigate agency’s budget, preparing a report of projected expenditures for decision-makers
  • Maintain the departmental budget by compiling data from various sources
  • Analyze reports received from managers regarding marketing campaigns and accounting procedures to ensure that the company is operating within its allocated budget
  • Keep management informed on the budget status
  • Make recommendations on how to reduce departmental overhead
  • Keep up to date with legislative changes that will affect the way budgets are allocated

Education and experience

  • A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field is required for this job
  • Experience as an auditor, accountant, or business analyst may be helpful
  • Familiarity with accounting software such as Microsoft Excel and SAP
  • Experience managing budgets for commercial businesses will be useful
  • Ability to communicate financial information effectively to clients and management

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to work independently
  • Good research skills
  • Financial modeling skills
  • Strong understanding of financial concepts and accounting practices
  • Solid mathematical, analytical, writing, presentation, organizational, interpersonal, and leadership skills
  • Ability to communicate technical information to non-technical staff is required
  • Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize tasks and follow a schedule

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with accounting and auditing techniques and procedures
  • Familiarity with government budgeting methods is a plus
  • Certification from the Government Finance Officers Association, Certified Public Accountant, or other related professional associations may be required for certain positions in this field
  • Accountant certification desirable
  • Ability to read and interpret government regulatory agency reports
  • Understanding of government budgeting practices

Typical work environment

Budget managers typically work in an office setting during regular business hours. Budget managers must be able to handle stress and tight deadlines. The ability to work independently and handle pressure well is important. Budget managers may need to travel to visit other sites or clients. They may occasionally need to work a night or weekend shift.

Work varies depending on the industry and type of budget managed. Budget managers typically spend a lot of time at a computer, usually entering data from reports and making sure financial information is up-to-date. They must carefully analyze all numbers in order to make recommendations that will benefit the company.

Financial managers may have to travel for meetings or inspections. They may be called upon to speak before elected officials about concerns or need a security clearance.

Typical hours

Budget managers typically work full-time from 8 AM to 5 PM. Many companies have a 40-hour workweek, but budget managers may be expected to put in additional hours when needed. Working overtime is common in this field. On a daily basis, budget managers may need to enter data, perform accounting operations, and organize information in order to compile reports.

Available certifications

If you’re looking to become a budget manager in the government, there are many certifications that you can receive to set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Some of them include:

  • Management Concepts Federal Financial Management Certificate Programs (FFMCP). This certification provides a comprehensive process for professional development and is designed to enhance and accelerate career growth for Federal Government accountants, auditors, budget analysts, and financial managers.
  • TSPPPA Budget and Public Finance Certificate. This online certificate in budget and public finance provides coursework in the theoretical and practical foundations of public budgeting and the formulation and evaluation of public budgets.
  • Certified Public Finance Officers (CPFO). Those looking to receive this prestigious certificate can earn the designation through the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

Career path

When starting your career as a budget manager, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. You can then work into more senior-level roles with experience under your belt.

As you become more experienced, you may choose to go back to school and earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. As budgets become larger, you may choose to work as an industry specialist and focus only on those types of budgets.

Administrative and management professionals who enjoy helping others may want to explore a career as a government budget analyst. This career path often leads to upper-level jobs, such as deputy director or assistant mayor, where you will oversee the entire budgetary process.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 13-2031

2020 Employment52,500
Projected Employment in 203055,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift2,500 increase

The job outlook for government-specific budget managers is anticipated to increase by 5% in the next ten years. The job growth rate for budget and financial managers is slightly lower than the national average. As local governments try to reduce their spending, they will need professionals in this field to help cut costs. In addition, state or federal governments may offer incentives that encourage municipalities to contract out certain budget tasks, such as information systems and fixed asset financial management.

Throughout your career, you may face challenges due to budget cuts. However, being a fiscally-responsible manager is one way of separating yourself from other professionals in your field. If you are able to spot areas where cuts can be made without negatively affecting the company, you should be able to stand out and attain more senior-level positions.