Actuary essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $93,680
- 2011, number of jobs: 21,340
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 27 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Actuaries; what they do:
Although no one can predict the future with one hundred percent accuracy, actuaries are expected to come as close as possible. Using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory, actuaries determine the risk of certain events happening in the future, and then help businesses and clients create policies addressing these events with the intention of minimizing cost. Actuaries are indispensible to the insurance industry.
An actuary career includes utilizing statistical data and other available information to estimate economic cost of inevitable events such as death, sickness, accidents, and natural disaster. Using their estimations, actuaries develop, test, and administer things such as insurance policies, investments, and pension plans with the intention of minimizing risk and maximizing profitability for insurance companies.
Actuaries must be computer savvy, as they use database software for compiling information and advanced statistics and modeling software when forecasting the cost and probability of events.
An actuarial career involves explaining results and recommendations to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients through presentations, reports, charts, tables, and one-on-one conversations.
Sometimes actuaries are called upon to testify before public agencies on proposed laws affecting their business.
Actuaries may specialize in specific types of insurance or fields such as health insurance, life insurance, property and casualty insurance, pension or retirement benefits actuaries. Some actuaries work as consulting actuaries.
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Actuaries job titles:
- Actuarial Analyst
- Insurance Actuary
- Consulting Actuary
- Pricing Actuary
- Actuarial Associate
- Actuarial Assistant
- Product Development Actuary
- Health Actuary
Actuaries Education, Certification and License Requirements
People interested in an actuarial career typically need at least a Bachelor of Mathematics, Bachelor of Statistics, Bachelor of Business, or Bachelor of Actuarial Science degree.
Many actuarial students obtain an internship while in school.
Actuary programs cover subjects such as:
- Applied statistics
- Corporate finance
- Computer science
Actuaries must pass multiple exams to become certified actuarial professionals; many employers expect actuaries to have passed at least one of these exams prior to graduating with their bachelor degree.
The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) both offer two levels of certification: associate and fellowship.
Certification through the SOA requires passing a series of five exams, plus seminars on professionalism. Certification through the CAS requires passing a series of seven exams, plus seminars on professionalism.
Actuaries working in the property and casualty field become certified through the CAS, while actuaries working in the life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance receive certification through the SOA. Certification through either society takes four to six years.
It generally takes actuaries two to three years to continue on and earn fellowship status. The SOA provides five different tracks for fellowship: life and annuities, group and health benefits, retirement benefits, investments, and finance/enterprise risk management. The SOA does not offer special tracks for fellowship certification.
Pension actuaries must be enrolled by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Career advancement for actuaries depends on the number of actuarial exams passed, experience, and job performance. It’s possible for actuaries with a large knowledge base of risk management to obtain an executive position, such as chief risk officer or chief financial officer.
Actuaries Job Outlook
Forecast: 27 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for actuaries, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment for actuaries grows the most in consulting services and insurance industry, particularly health insurance due to changing laws. Climate change affecting property increases the need for actuaries in the property and casualty insurance field.
- 2011 median annual wage: $93,680
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $132,340
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $69,780
Actuaries Major Employers
- Agencies, brokerages, and other insurance activities
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
- Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers
- Management of companies and enterprises