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Actuary Careers

Are you a mathematics genius? Do you have excellence in numbers and problem-solving skills? Then here is the best job opportunity for you. Being an actuary is the best career for you. As a mathematician, you must be able to analyze the commercial costs and find the uncertainty and risks in it.

You can figure out the possibilities of risk associated with the financial activity. A bachelor's degree in statistics, financial mathematics, or actuarial science is the eligibility criteria for this position. You must have excellence in mathematics, economics, or commerce throughout your study career. Having a master's degree, research courses, or experience in this related field will be a bonus.

Usually, actuaries get good job opportunities in government sectors, consulting firms, hospitals, investment, finance, insurance companies, accounting departments, and more, with an average annual salary ranging from $98,880 to $110,960 working for more than 40 hours per week. The scope for actuaries is increasing each day with various opportunities and more responsibilities in different sectors.

What Does an Actuary 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.

How To Become an Actuary

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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Average Salary
$84,751
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
20%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
1,000
Job Openings

Actuary Career Paths

Top Careers Before Actuary

Top Careers After Actuary

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Average Salary for an Actuary

Actuaries in America make an average salary of $84,751 per year or $41 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $166,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $43,000 per year.
Average Salary
$84,751

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Harrison, NY
Salary Range87k - 162k$119k$119,324
Seattle, WA
Salary Range78k - 142k$105k$105,270
Hartford, CT
Salary Range74k - 140k$102k$102,271
Wilmington, DE
Salary Range75k - 137k$102k$101,705
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range72k - 134k$99k$98,710
Jersey City, NJ
Salary Range71k - 131k$97k$97,149
$52k
$162k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Actuary Remote Available
Actuary Remote Available
USAA
USAA
03/28/2021
03/28/2021
$117,60003/28/2021
$117,600
Regional Actuary
Regional Actuary
USAA
USAA
03/28/2021
03/28/2021
$97,20003/28/2021
$97,200
R20034543-Actuary-Modernization
R20034543-Actuary-Modernization
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
03/28/2021
03/28/2021
$123,00003/28/2021
$123,000
R20034543_1_1-Actuary-Ifrs17 Modernization
R20034543_1_1-Actuary-Ifrs17 Modernization
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
03/26/2021
03/26/2021
$123,00003/26/2021
$123,000
Actuary Remote Available
Actuary Remote Available
USAA
USAA
03/26/2021
03/26/2021
$117,60003/26/2021
$117,600
See More Recent Salaries

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Actuary Demographics

Gender

male

62.9 %

female

25.8 %

unknown

11.3 %

Ethnicity

White

76.4 %

Asian

15.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

4.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.8 %

Portuguese

9.7 %

French

9.7 %
See More Demographics

Actuary Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

79.3 %

Masters

11.6 %

Certificate

5.1 %

Top Colleges for Actuarys

1. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,391
Enrollment
8,568

2. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

3. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

4. Emory University

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,306
Enrollment
6,975

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Public

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

6. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

7. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

8. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

9. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

10. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238
See More Education Info
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Internship
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Top Skills For an Actuary

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.6% of actuaries listed risk management on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Risk Management, 11.6%
  • Health Care, 8.2%
  • VBA, 7.9%
  • Insurance Companies, 6.0%
  • R, 5.8%
  • Other Skills, 60.5%
  • See All Actuary Skills

Best States For an Actuary

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an actuary. The best states for people in this position are New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and Connecticut. Actuaries make the most in New York with an average salary of $116,758. Whereas in Rhode Island and Washington, they would average $103,827 and $103,360, respectively. While actuaries would only make an average of $101,458 in Connecticut, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Actuary Jobs:
104
Highest 10% Earn:
$196,000
Location Quotient:
2.38
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Connecticut

Total Actuary Jobs:
51
Highest 10% Earn:
$175,000
Location Quotient:
4.51
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maine

Total Actuary Jobs:
6
Highest 10% Earn:
$182,000
Location Quotient:
1.33
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Actuary Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ actuaries and discovered their number of actuary opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Ernst & Young was the best, especially with an average salary of $103,984. Transamerica Corporation follows up with an average salary of $97,514, and then comes Milliman with an average of $117,507. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as an actuary. The employers include USAA, Cigna, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

1. Ernst & Young
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$103,984
Actuarys Hired: 
214+
2. Transamerica Corporation
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$97,514
Actuarys Hired: 
84+
3. Milliman
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$117,507
Actuarys Hired: 
79+
4. Liberty Mutual
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$108,849
Actuarys Hired: 
60+
5. MetLife
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$117,521
Actuarys Hired: 
41+
6. Sun Life of Canada
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$68,102
Actuarys Hired: 
32+

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