Job Description

Actuaries use statistical and financial analysis to assess the costs associated with risk and uncertainty. They may also work with clients to mitigate these costs through specially designed policies, and/or develop predictive tables to assess the potential of risk-associated costs in the future.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Positive employment outlook
  • Good job security
  • Opportunity for professional growth and advancement
  • Intellectual challenge and engagement with mathematics
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities
  • Data work: accumulate statistical data and other resources for analysis
  • Analytical work:
    • Assess/predict the economic cost of foreseeable events (e.g. sickness, accident, etc.)
    • Plan and implement policies and business strategies to reduce costs, minimize risk, and maximize profits
    • Formally present assessments and proposals with visual aids, and graphic representation of statistical calculations (e.g. charts, tables, etc.)
  • Computer-work: most of an actuary’s tasks are completed on a computer, primarily with database and modeling software
  • Teamwork: actuaries usually work in collaboration with other professionals from relevant fields such as accountants, financial analysts, and market research analysts
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication and Interpersonal skills

Technical Skills

  • Mathematics
  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Data managing: SQL
  • Programming languages: VBA and C++
Different Types of Organizations
  • Insurance companies (different fields, e.g. health insurance actuaries, life insurance actuaries, property and casualty insurance actuaries, pension and retirement benefits, enterprise risk actuaries)
  • Private corporations
  • Consulting agencies(e.g. auditing the work of actuaries at other companies or performing actuarial tasks for a company that does not have an employed actuary)
  • Government agencies (e.g. evaluating/predicting the effects of changes to social security and other government benefits)
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Banks and investment firms
Expectations and Sacrifices
  • Rigorous, time-consuming examination and certification process
    • General rule: each actuarial exam requires about 150 hours of studying/hour of the exam
    • That said, most actuarial employers support actuaries pursuing certification by covering exam fees and textbooks, and/or providing paid leave for study weeks
  • May work longer hours as a trainee
Current Industry Trends
  • Experts believe calculating tasks will shift from being conducted through Excel, to the cloud
  • Cost–cutting is an increasingly expected function of actuaries
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Enjoyed math class
  • Interest in business studies/concepts/news
  • Participated in business competitions (e.g. DECA)
Education and Training Needed

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in an analytical field (e.g. mathematics, actuarial science, statistics),
  • Additional coursework in economics, applied statistics, corporate finance, computer science, writing and public speaking enhances an actuary’s skillset and candidacy for employment

Requirements for Certification:

  • Two associations offer certification as an associate or fellow:
    • Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS)
    • Society of Actuaries (SOA)

*Each association specializes in specific fields in which an actuary may operate

  • Certification requires completing a VEE requirement (validation by educational experience) consisting of coursework in economics, finance, and statistics as well as passing a series of exams and attending seminars
  • Many employers seek trainee actuaries who have already passed one or two exams before completing their undergraduate education
  • Associate certification is usually achieved in 4 to 7 years, and an additional 2 to 3 years are necessary for fellowship certification

Requirements for Career Advancement:

  • Job performance and attainment of certification
  • Developing skills through professional workshops, conferences, and additional computer, writing, software courses
  • Fellowship certification allows an actuary to attain supervisory/managerial positions
Top Educational Institutions

Click here for the top programs.

Things to do in High School and College
  • Take challenging math classes
  • Cultivate computer skills, especially re: Excel and Access, SQL, and programming languages such as VBA and C++
  • Develop strong organizing and study skills to prepare for the demanding certification process
  • Intern with an actuary
Typical Roadmap
Actuary roadmap gif
How to land your 1st job
  • Be sure to have completed at least 2 certification exams, or 1 exam with significant internship experience (usually regarded as a minimum requirement by potential employers)

  • Superior interviewing skills and a polished resume demonstrating concrete skills are especially important for employment

  • Internships can lead to employment at an organization or at least indicate that you are available to be approached should the organization seek to employ an actuary

  • CAS and SOA serve as job boards where job availabilities are posted and you may connect with recruiters

  • You can also look for jobs through LinkedIn and other online platforms that allow you to search for available positions in the state/city you wish to work in

What it really takes to make it and succeed
  • Stellar work ethic, self-motivation, and perseverance to conduct hours and hours of independent study

  • Advanced skills in organization and communication to analyze risk and advise clients appropriately

Plan B
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Risk Management
  • Investment Consulting
  • Financial Engineering
  • Data Mining


Jobs by
Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics, ONET, Society of Actuaries

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