What is an Actuary?

Becoming an actuary is often a challenging experience that only a few can manage. However, the benefits you get after persevering these challenges cannot be ignored. This profession attracts some of the best salaries and commissions in the United States. It is also one of the most flexible careers.

What is an Actuary?

An actuary is a professional who analyzes the financial consequences associated with various risks an organization is predisposed to. He employs mathematical, statistical and financial theories to study uncertain future events that might affect an organization.

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For instance, he reviews statistical data relating to rates of mortality, sickness, accidents, retirement or disability and relays the information to companies who need it. This information can help financial institutions such as insurance providers and banks to pull together, measure, manage and mitigate risks. Pulling all the risks together enables these institutions to reduce the variability of their total cost. Other roles may include calculating implicit debts, forecasting cost trends, adjusting revenue risks, managing assets, underwriting life groups and pricing insurance products.

How to Become an Actuary

Aspiring actuaries must earn a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science in a recognized university. Those with bachelor’s degrees in economics and commerce can also become actuaries but only after they do additional courses. Some knowledge of programming languages such as SQL, C++ and VBA will increase the prospects of getting employed quickly.

Actuaries are also required to apply for memberships in professional bodies to get certificates. One can try the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society. These bodies offer a series of actuarial science exams that take six years to complete in order to be promoted to an associate status. Actuarial science exams are usually complex. Students need to study for at least 100 hours for each exam.

The Top Employers of Actuaries

Actuaries work in many companies. 71 percent of them work in finance and insurance, 15 percent in scientific and technical services companies, 9 percent in management positions and 4 percent in government institutions. Actuaries in the insurance industry specialize in health, life, property or casualty insurance. Those in other fields specialize in enterprise risk or pension benefits.

Job Outlook

Actuaries describe their work as challenging and interesting at the same time. They enjoy a good work environment when compared with other professionals. They have been consistently rated as one of the top three professionals on a number of factors. According to several reports, job positions are more open to women and individuals from under-represented minority communities than others. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment rate for actuaries to grow by 18 percent over the next 10 years. This is considered faster than the average growth rate. The remarkable growth will be fueled by the increasing need for companies to evaluate emerging risks.


Actuaries rarely lament about low paying jobs. They earn an average salary of $97,070 per year. Entry level jobs usually pay between $45,000 and $50,000, which is far better than many professions.

The increasing rate of doing business and the emerging risks mean companies will have to team up with actuaries in the coming years. All you need is commitment and vision to become an actuary today and benefit from the huge salaries associated with this profession.