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Become An Actuarial Associate

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Working As An Actuarial Associate

  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Processing Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $94,453

    Average Salary

What Does An Actuarial Associate Do

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.

Duties

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

Most actuarial work is done with computers. Actuaries use database software to compile information. They use advanced statistics and modeling software to forecast the probability of an event occurring, the potential costs of the event if it does occur, and whether the insurance company has enough money to pay future claims.

Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance. For example, some actuaries work with accountants and financial analysts to set the price for security offerings or with market research analysts to forecast demand for new products.

Most actuaries work at insurance companies, where they help design policies and determine the premiums that should be charged for each policy. They must ensure that the premiums are profitable yet competitive with other insurance companies.

Actuaries in the insurance industry typically specialize in a specific field of insurance, such as one of the following:

Health insurance actuaries help develop long-term care and health insurance policies by predicting expected costs of providing care under the terms of an insurance contract. Their predictions are based on numerous factors, including family history, geographic location, and occupation.

Life insurance actuaries help develop annuity and life insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating, on the basis of risk factors such as age, gender, and tobacco use, how long someone is expected to live.

Property and casualty insurance actuaries help develop insurance policies that insure policyholders against property loss and liability resulting from accidents, natural disasters, fires, and other events. They calculate the expected number of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies with the insured person’s age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors.

Some actuaries apply their expertise to financial matters outside of the insurance industry. For example, they develop investment strategies that manage risks and maximize returns for companies or individuals.

Pension and retirement benefits actuaries design, test, and evaluate company pension plans to determine if the expected funds available in the future will be enough to ensure payment of future benefits. They must report the results of their evaluations to the federal government. Pension actuaries also help businesses develop other types of retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and healthcare plans for retirees. In addition, they provide retirement planning advice to individuals.

Enterprise risk actuaries identify any risks, including economic, financial, and geopolitical risks that may affect a company’s short-term or long-term objectives. They help top executives determine how much risk the business is willing to take, and they develop strategies to respond to these issues.

Actuaries also work in the public sector. In the federal government, actuaries may evaluate proposed changes to Social Security or Medicare or conduct economic and demographic studies to project future benefit obligations. At the state level, actuaries may examine and regulate the rates charged by insurance companies.

Some actuaries are considered consultants and provide advice to clients on a contract basis. Many consulting actuaries audit the work of internal actuaries at insurance companies or handle actuarial duties for insurance companies that are not large enough to keep their own actuaries on staff.

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How To Become An Actuarial Associate

Actuaries need a bachelor’s degree, typically in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field. Students must complete coursework in economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance, and must pass a series of exams to become certified professionals.

Education

Actuaries must have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business. Typically, an actuary has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field.

To become certified professionals, students must complete coursework in economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance.

Students also should take classes outside of mathematics and business to prepare them for a career as an actuary. Coursework in computer science, especially programming languages, and the ability to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools, are valuable. Classes in writing and public speaking will improve students’ ability to communicate in the business world.

Licenses, Certification, and Registrations

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.

The SOA certifies actuaries who work in life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance.

The main requirement for associate certification in each society is the completion of exams. The SOA requires that candidates pass five exams for associate (ASA) certification. The CAS requires that candidates pass seven exams for associate (ACAS) certification.

Many employers expect students to have passed at least one of the initial actuary exams needed for professional certification before graduation.

In addition, both CAS and SOA require that candidates take seminars on professionalism. Both societies have mandatory e-learning courses for candidates.

It typically takes 4 to 6 years for an actuary to get an ACAS or an ASA certification because each exam requires hundreds of hours of study and months of preparation.

After becoming associates, actuaries typically take another 2 to 3 years to earn fellowship status.

The SOA offers fellowship certification in five separate tracks: life and annuities, group and health benefits, retirement benefits, investments, and finance/enterprise risk management. Unlike the SOA, the CAS does not offer specialized study tracks for fellowship certification.

Both the CAS and the SOA have a continuing education requirement. Most actuaries meet this requirement by attending training seminars that are sponsored by their employers or the societies.

Pension actuaries typically must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries. Applicants must meet certain experience requirements and pass two exams administered through the SOA to qualify for enrollment.

Other Experience

Because there are different types of practice areas, including health, life, pension, and casualty, internships may be helpful for students deciding on which actuarial track to pursue.

Training

Most entry-level actuaries start out as trainees. They are typically on teams with more experienced actuaries who serve as mentors. At first, they perform basic tasks, such as compiling data, but as they gain more experience, they may conduct research and write reports. Beginning actuaries may spend time working in other departments, such as marketing, underwriting, and product development, to learn all aspects of the company’s work and how actuarial work applies to them.

Most employers support their actuaries throughout the certification process. For example, employers typically pay the cost of exams and study materials. Many firms provide paid time to study and encourage their employees to set up study groups. Employees usually receive raises or bonuses for each exam that they pass.

Advancement

Advancement depends largely on job performance and the number of actuarial exams passed. For example, actuaries who achieve fellowship status often supervise the work of other actuaries and provide advice to senior management. Actuaries with a broad knowledge of risk management and how it applies to business can rise to executive positions in their companies, such as chief risk officer or chief financial officer. 

Important Qualities

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.

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Actuarial Associate Demographics

Gender

Male

64.6%

Female

25.7%

Unknown

9.7%
Ethnicity

White

49.7%

Asian

28.5%

Black or African American

8.7%

Hispanic or Latino

8.6%

Unknown

4.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

17.6%

Chinese

11.8%

French

11.8%

Mandarin

11.8%

Korean

11.8%

Portuguese

5.9%

Vietnamese

5.9%

German

5.9%

Dutch

5.9%

Japanese

5.9%

Cantonese

5.9%
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Actuarial Associate Education

Schools

University of Connecticut

13.4%

Georgia State University

9.0%

University of Iowa

7.5%

Pennsylvania State University

7.5%

Columbia University

7.5%

University of Florida

4.5%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

4.5%

Iowa State University

4.5%

DePaul University

4.5%

Manhattan College

4.5%

Purdue University

4.5%

Ball State University

4.5%

University of California - Berkeley

3.0%

Princeton University

3.0%

Boston University

3.0%

University of California - Santa Barbara

3.0%

University of California - Los Angeles

3.0%

Florida State University

3.0%

University of Pennsylvania

3.0%

Brigham Young University

3.0%
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Majors

Mathematics

37.5%

Management Science

20.0%

Statistics

9.0%

Business

7.5%

Finance

5.0%

Economics

4.0%

Mathematics And Computer Science

2.5%

Applied Mathematics

1.5%

Computer Science

1.5%

Accounting

1.5%

School Counseling

1.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.0%

Public Health

1.0%

Computer Information Systems

1.0%

Physics

1.0%

Human Resources Management

1.0%

General Studies

1.0%

Information Systems

1.0%

Elementary Education

1.0%

Education

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

51.2%

Masters

36.4%

Other

6.9%

Doctorate

2.8%

Certificate

1.4%

Associate

1.4%
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Real Actuarial Associate Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate, Reinsurance Actuary Global Atlantic Financial Company New York, NY Dec 26, 2016 $160,000
Associate Actuary Milliman, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 17, 2016 $155,000
Associate Actuary VOYA Services Company Windsor, CT Jun 17, 2016 $145,600
Senior Actuarial Associate National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $140,000
Associate Actuary Milliman, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 10, 2015 $140,000
Senior Actuarial Associate National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. New York, NY Jan 10, 2015 $140,000
Associate Actuary Pacific Life Insurance Company Aliso Viejo, CA Nov 10, 2016 $138,467
Associate Actuary II Independence Blue Cross, LLC Philadelphia, PA Aug 14, 2015 $138,195
Advanced Actuarial Associate Hewitt Associates LLC New York, NY Aug 04, 2015 $136,200
Associate Actuary II Independence Blue Cross, LLC Philadelphia, PA Oct 01, 2015 $135,886
Actuary Associate Cambia Health Solutions, Inc. Durham, NC Jan 11, 2016 $134,000 -
$152,000
Associate Actuary Humana Louisville, KY Jan 08, 2016 $133,598 -
$160,000
Senior Actuarial Associate New York Life Insurance Company New York, NY Sep 19, 2016 $130,000
Associate Actuary United States Fire Insurance Company Eatontown, NJ May 30, 2016 $130,000
Senior Actuarial Associate Metlife Group, Inc. New York, NY Sep 14, 2016 $102,814 -
$138,800
Actuarial Associate Acas Farmers Group, Inc. Wilmington, DE Nov 09, 2016 $101,215
Actuarial Associate Acas Farmers Group, Inc. Wilmington, DE Feb 02, 2016 $101,215
Senior Actuarial Associate The Prudential Insurance Company of America Newark, NJ Apr 13, 2016 $100,838
Associate Actuary Genworth North America Corporation Richmond, VA Jan 02, 2015 $100,568
Associate Actuary Prudential Insurance Company of America Hartford, CT Dec 08, 2016 $100,500 -
$130,500
Associate Actuary-Annuities The Prudential Insurance Company of America Newark, NJ Jul 12, 2015 $100,500 -
$130,500
Associate Actuary Prudential Insurance Company of America Newark, NJ Aug 13, 2015 $100,500 -
$130,500
Actuarial Associate Experienced Hewitt Associates LLC San Francisco, CA Jun 15, 2015 $85,300
Actuarial Associate VOYA Insurance and Annuity Company West Chester, PA Feb 09, 2016 $84,900
Senior Actuarial Associate Prudential Insurance Company of America Newark, NJ Aug 26, 2016 $84,500 -
$111,200
Actuarial Associate VOYA Insurance and Annuity Company West Chester, PA Aug 15, 2016 $84,340
Actuarial Associate VOYA Services Company Windsor, CT Sep 01, 2015 $83,625
Lead Actuarial Associate Health Care Service Corporation Chicago, IL Sep 25, 2015 $82,035 -
$112,000
Associate Actuary Pacificsource Boise, ID Aug 24, 2016 $81,600
H&B Associate Experienced-Actuary Hewitt Associates LLC Chicago, IL Apr 01, 2015 $80,829

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Top Skills for An Actuarial Associate

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  1. Financial Statements
  2. Product Development
  3. Government Filings
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Prepared regulatory financial statements and organized all quarterly and annual financial reporting packages for the State.
  • Provided product development and portfolio reviews for Professional Liability lines.
  • Participated in related projects including calculation, reports and government filings.
  • Reported Statutory, GAAP, and tax information for Life, Stop Loss, Disability, and Dental Group Insurance Products.
  • Supported task forces that recommend model parameters, such as rate changes and loss ratios, especially for the Umbrella line.

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