What They Do:

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty.

Actuaries typically do the following:

Compile statistical data and other information for further analysis

Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster

Design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability

Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and proposals

Explain their findings and proposals to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients.

Why It's Important:

Through their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, actuaries assess the risk of events occurring and help create policies for businesses and clients that minimize the cost of that risk. For this reason, actuaries are essential to the insurance industry.

Most actuaries love being an actuary because it allows them to use their talents and have a meaningful positive impact. As one actuary put it: "I like to think that I'm helping people. I'm helping them get good health care, I'm helping them protect themselves in old age. I'm creating economic growth.

Typical Duties:

  • Compile statistical data and other information for further analysis

  • Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster

 

  • Design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability

 

  • Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and proposals

 

  • Explain their findings and proposals to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients

Important Skills:

Analytical, Communication, Computer, Interpersonal, Math, Problem-Solving

Analytical skills. Actuaries use analytical skills to identify patterns and trends in complex sets of data to determine the factors that have an effect on certain types of events.

Communication skills. Actuaries must be able to explain complex technical matters to those without an actuarial background. They must also communicate clearly through the reports and memos that describe their work and recommendations.

Computer skills. Actuaries must know programming languages and be able to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools.

Interpersonal skills. Actuaries serve as leaders and members of teams, so they must be able to listen to other people’s opinions and suggestions before reaching a conclusion.

Math skills. Actuaries quantify risk by using the principles of calculus, statistics, and probability.

Problem-solving skills. Actuaries identify risks and develop ways for businesses to manage those risks.

Salary Range (Based on BLS): $108,350

The median annual wage for actuaries was $108,350 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $64,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $193,600.

 

In May 2019, the median annual wages for actuaries in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific and technical services: $110,960

Finance and insurance: $110,020

Government: $101,740

Management of companies and enterprises: $98,880

Professional Designations:

Two professional societies—the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA)—sponsor programs leading to full professional status. The CAS and SOA offer two levels of certification: associate and fellow.

 

The CAS certifies actuaries who work in the property and casualty field, which includes automobile, homeowners, medical malpractice, and workers’ compensation insurance. Check out the CAS Path to Success for a complete overview of CAS exams offered in becoming a FCAS. 

 

The SOA certifies actuaries who work in life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance. Learn everything you need to know about attaining the ASA and FSA designations and the CERA credential here

Job Outlook (Based on 2019 BLS)

Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 20 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 5,000 new jobs over the 10-year period. Actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new, emerging risks.

 

More actuaries will also be needed to help companies manage their own risk, a practice known as enterprise risk management. Actuaries will help companies avoid, manage, and respond to any potential financial risks across all areas of their business operations. This analysis helps companies adjust their business or investment strategies to achieve economic returns and respond to new financial regulations and requirements.

Insurance companies will need actuaries to analyze the large amount of information, such as medical or property data, collected from consumers. The increase in available data will allow insurance companies to better develop new products, set competitive prices, predict consumer behavior, and make more accurate projections of future risks and costs.

 

In addition, health insurance companies will require more actuaries to help evaluate the effects of changing healthcare regulations and guidelines, expand into new insurance markets, and offer products to new customers.

Number of Jobs (BLS, 2018): 25,000

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Collegiate Experience: University Listing with Actuarial Programs and Courses to Pursue

Coursework to pursue:

Applied Statistics

Corporate Finance

Economics

Financial Mathematics

Accounting and Finance

Mathematical Statistics

Universities with Actuarial Programs

Scholarships: There are a number of opportunities for financial assistance available for students pursuing actuarial science.

• Actuary of Tomorrow - Stuart A. Robertson Memorial Scholarship

• CAS Trust Scholarship Program

• D.W. Simpson Actuarial Science Scholarship Program

• Ezra Penland Actuarial Scholarship

• Curtis E Huntington Memorial Scholarship

• The Society of Actuaries James C. Hickman Scholar Program

• Modeling the Future Challenge Scholarship

• Actuarial Diversity Scholarship

• International Association of Black Actuaries Scholarship

• Mutual of Omaha Actuarial Scholarship for Minorities

Additional Resources:

American Academy of Actuaries

Society of Actuaries

Be an Actuary

American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries

Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries

Day in the Life of an Actuary

https://collegegrad.com/careers/actuaries