How to Become an

Actuary

The complete career guide to be an Actuary: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $110,560
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 17.9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Growing Industry
    Career Attribute

Actuaries play a crucial role in ensuring insurance companies remain profitable. They conduct thorough analysis of the risk of different groups of people who carry insurance. By analyzing the risk of a certain group, the actuary is able to recommend pricing models for insurance plans that guarantee profitability.


What is an Actuary?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in actuary roles:

  • Examine different groups of people who carry insurance, and determine the likelihood of claims from those groups
  • Use predictive software to predict the overall costs of likely claims from a group of people
  • Create different types of insurance plans that are designed to mitigate risk and reduce costs for insurance companies
  • Form pricing models for different insurance plans—including premiums and deductibles
  • Present research and recommendations to senior-level stakeholders

A Day in the Life of an Actuary

If you have any type of insurance—health, life, auto, or home—it’s likely that the premiums you pay for your insurance each month were set by actuaries. Actuaries are researchers, mathematicians, and analysts that study risk and use their findings to develop insurance plans and set pricing models designed to ensure insurance companies remain profitable. They group insurance carriers into different risk brackets, determine the likely cost of care for those insurance carriers over a period of time, and set pricing models that ensure premiums paid by a group of people will cover all insurance company costs.

To conduct their research, actuaries use sophisticated risk modeling software. This software allows actuaries to determine what groups are likely to buy certain types of insurance and how much money the insurance company can expect to pay in claims for that group. Then, the actuary can formulate different types of insurance plans that work to mitigate risks, and form pricing models for the plans that include monthly premiums, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket costs. When doing so, they must also review competitor plans and prices to ensure pricing models are competitive.

While the primary responsibility of an actuary is to conduct research and analysis, they must also form detailed presentations of their findings and recommendations, and present them to senior-level stakeholders at insurance companies. Because pricing models and plans form the basis of how insurance companies earn profits, stakeholders often require actuaries to present detailed information explaining exactly how they arrived at the recommended figures.

Typical Work Schedule for Actuaries

Most actuaries work full-time during normal business hours. Overtime may be required on occasion, but is uncommon.

Projected Job Growth for Actuaries

Due to insurance becoming more available, and as a result of tax penalties for the uninsured, more people carry insurance now than ever before. The increased demand for insurance is expected to result is higher demand for actuaries in the coming decade to ensure insurance companies remain profitable.

Actuary Specializations

Actuaries generally specialize in a specific type of insurance. They may perform risk analysis and make recommendations for health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, renters insurance, or homeowners insurance. They may also specialize in less-common insurance types, such as dental, vision, critical illness, flood, and earthquake insurance, among others.

Typical Employers

Most actuaries work for insurance providers. Major employers of actuaries include the largest health insurance corporations: United Healthcare, Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, and Humana. Many also work for personal property insurance companies like Progressive, Geico, and State Farm. A smaller subset of actuaries are employed by consulting agencies or government agencies.


How To Become an Actuary

The first step in becoming an actuary is earning a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Aspiring actuaries commonly pursue degrees in statistics, actuarial sciences, or finance. Each of these degrees are focused on creating the types of statistical models and completing complex mathematical equations that are required for success as an actuary. After earning a bachelor’s degree, aspiring actuaries must pursue certification in the specialization they want to focus on in their career.

Aspiring actuaries can pursue certification from one of two organizations: the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Actuaries interested in working in property insurance earn their certification through the CAS, and those interested in working in health insurance pursue certification from the SOA. To become certified, students must pass between five and seven written examinations that test their knowledge of relevant topics and their capabilities as an actuary.

However, becoming certified is not simply a process of passing the required examinations. Each exam requires a significant amount of guided and self-study to prepare for the exam. In fact, it commonly takes actuaries between four and six years to earn full certification, making certification very similar to earning a Ph.D. or professional degree. Once the tests have all been passed, actuaries earn associate status and can begin looking for work in the field. Conversely, they may also choose to continue their education to earn fellow status—a higher credential—which requires another two years of study.


Actuary Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range

$73,010

Average

$110,560

High Range

$180,500

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$35/hr

Average

$53/hr

High Range

$87/hr

How do Actuary salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Actuary's can make an average annual salary of $110,560, or $53 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $73,010 or $35 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #46 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Actuary. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.


Highest Education Among Actuarys

  • 13.3%   Doctorate
  • 23.9%   Masters
  • 61.3%   Bachelors
  • 0%   Associates
  • 1.5%   College
  • 0%   High School
  • 0%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

24,600

2024 Est. Jobs

29,000

Job Growth Rate

17.9%

Est. New Jobs

4,400

How does Actuary job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 4,400 jobs for a total of 29,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 17.9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #73 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Actuarys

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 3,200 900 1%
Direct insurance (except life, health, and medical) carriers 3,200 200 0%
Direct health and medical insurance carriers 2,800 1,300 1%

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