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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Actuarial Consultant
Top Careers After Actuarial Consultant
Hispanic or Latino6.5%
Black or African American0.6%
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University of Connecticut16.2%
University of Iowa7.4%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute7.4%
Georgia State University5.9%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor4.4%
Queens College of the City University of New York4.4%
John Carroll University4.4%
Michigan State University4.4%
New Jersey Institute of Technology4.4%
University of Chicago4.4%
University of Illinois at Chicago2.9%
University of Central Florida2.9%
University of California - Los Angeles2.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Consulting Actuary||Milliman Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 03, 2016||$173,500|
|Life Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delware Inc.||Atlanta, GA||Aug 09, 2016||$167,454|
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||Weatogue, CT||Oct 09, 2016||$157,677|
|Consulting Actuary||Towers Watson Pennsylvania Inc.||Chicago, IL||Jul 01, 2014||$156,790|
|Life Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delware Inc.||Atlanta, GA||Aug 09, 2016||$154,074|
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||Weatogue, CT||Feb 29, 2016||$154,000|
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||Weatogue, CT||Sep 10, 2015||$153,084|
|Senior Actuarial Consultant||Air Worldwide Corp.||Boston, MA||Nov 22, 2013||$147,750|
|Life Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Pennsylvania, Inc.||Atlanta, GA||Aug 23, 2014||$146,000|
|Consulting Actuary||Towers Watson Pennsylvania Inc.||Boston, MA||Sep 15, 2013||$142,900|
|Senior Actuarial Consultant||Air Worldwide Corp.||Boston, MA||Nov 22, 2013||$140,000|
|Consulting Actuary||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2013||$135,970|
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||Coral Gables, FL||Nov 15, 2013||$108,587 -
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Pennsylvania, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 04, 2014||$108,000|
|Consulting Actuary (Statistician0||Wakely Consulting Group, Inc.||Englewood, CO||Jan 10, 2016||$108,000|
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Pennsylvania, Inc.||New York, NY||Aug 08, 2013||$108,000|
|Senior Defined Benefit Actuarial Consultant||Mercer (Us) Inc.||Boston, MA||Oct 01, 2013||$106,500 -
|Actuarial Consultant||Towers Watson Pennsylvania Inc.||Dallas, TX||Jan 02, 2014||$105,550|
|Actuarial Consultant||Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company||Springfield, MA||Sep 02, 2014||$105,500|
|Government Actuarial Consultant||Mercer Health & Benefits LLC||Phoenix, AZ||Feb 28, 2014||$105,200 -
|Senior Actuarial Consultant||Eagleeye Analytics, Inc.||Columbia, SC||Sep 04, 2015||$97,968 -
|Lead Actuarial Consultant||Metlife Group, Inc.||New York, NY||Feb 02, 2013||$97,427 -
|Actuarial Consultant||Milliman, Inc.||Wayne, PA||Feb 29, 2016||$97,000 -
|Health & Benefits Actuarial Consultant||Mercer Health & Benefits LLC||Irvine, CA||Oct 20, 2016||$95,451 -
|Defined Benefits Actuarial Consultant||Mercer (Us) Inc.||Irvine, CA||Mar 17, 2016||$95,400|
|Consulting Actuary||Towers Watson Delaware Inc.||Southfield, MI||Sep 24, 2013||$94,000|
|Defined Benefits Actuarial Consultant||Mercer (Us) Inc.||Norwalk, CT||Sep 30, 2015||$93,933|
|Health & Benefits Actuarial Consultant||Mercer Health & Benefits LLC||San Francisco, CA||Sep 11, 2014||$93,500 -
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