Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty.
What they do
Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.
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
Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance.
Although actuaries usually work in an office setting, those who work for consulting firms may need to travel to meet with clients.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks.
Similar Job Titles
Actuarial Analyst, Actuarial Associate, Actuarial Consultant, Actuary, Consulting Actuary, Health Actuary, Pricing Actuary, Pricing Analyst, Product Development Actuary, Retirement Actuary
Compensation and Benefits Managers, Market Research Analyst and Marketing Specialist, Auditors, Financial Analyst, Risk Management Specialist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Academy of Actuaries - D.C.-based 19,500+ member professional association whose mission is to serve the public and the U.S. actuarial profession.
- American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries - With more than 7,000 members this association offers extensive educational opportunities, paired with a strong advocacy operation to place its members at the center of any legislative debates that could affect what individuals do for a living. There are educational opportunities that include credentialing, certificate and continuing education programs.
- Casualty Actuarial Society - The Casualty Actuarial Society is a professional organization whose purpose is the advancement of the body of knowledge of actuarial science applied to property, casualty, and similar risk exposures. Options are many for continuing education
- CFA Institute - With a mission of serving all finance professionals seeking investment management-related education, knowledge, professional development, connection, or inspiration; this organization offers an incredible list of programs and advanced opportunities. Comprehensive and insightful research publications for investment management professionals and those learning in the field is offered.
- Conference of Consulting Actuaries - This association consists of established and aspiring leaders who seek to learn, engage and excel through collaborative education and enriching communities. CCA is recognized as having the highest-quality continuing education opportunities.
- LOMA - This organization is committed to a business partnership with their worldwide members to improve their management and operations through quality employee training and development, research, information sharing, and related products and services.
- National Academy of Social Insurance - Members of this organization seek to advance solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security. Student opportunities are listed.
- Society of Actuaries - This association seeks to advance their actuary members as leaders in measuring and managing risk to improve financial outcomes for individuals, organizations, and the public. Very helpful Educational Pathways for those interested in the field.
- Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters - This organization is dedicated to enriching the careers of nearly 18,000 highly motivated risk management and insurance professionals. List of education opportunities offered by this association are available.
Magazines and Publications
- Actuarial Update
- ASB Boxscore
- Casualty Quarterly
- StateScan Quarterly
- The Retirement Report
- CAS List of Publications
- LOMA Resource Magazine
- The Actuary Magazine
- North American Actuarial Journal
- CPCU News With Benefits
Actuaries analyze the costs of risk and uncertainty. They use statistics to estimate how likely it is that an event —such as an illness or accident—will occur, and help their clients set insurance rates and payouts so they can manage the cost if it does. Depending on the type of insurance or benefit they work with, actuaries may examine factors that affect an individual’s health, estimate the length of a person’s life, calculate the likelihood of car accidents, or ensure a retirement plan will have enough funds for all the employees it covers. Actuaries typically work alongside professionals from 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. 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 costs. At the state level, actuaries may examine and regulate the rates charged by insurance companies. Most actuaries work full time, and overtime is common. Actuaries need a bachelor’s degree, typically in mathematics, actuarial science, or another analytical field. Students must complete coursework in economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance, and must pass a series of exams to become certified professionals.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistic www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org