What does an actuary do, how much can you hope to earn and what education do you need to have a chance at a successful job application? These are the areas that this article will cover for anyone interested in this as a career.
Being an actuary
Essentially actuaries use their skills and knowledge such as risk theory, statistics, math and probability to try to predict future financial events and assess their impact. Demand for people to fill these roles is on the rise so there is a strong and fairly secure job market out there. It is also a fact that the number of fields ac actuary can work in is now for more diverse than it once was, making it more attractive. This true within the more traditional areas like pensions and insurance as well as new areas too. Actuaries might be employed in the consulting industry, insurance, unions, civil suits, government, establishing trusts for companies contingency plans and so on. Graduates heading into this field have a very high chance of getting a job placement and attractive actuary salaries are part of the reason more people are choosing this as career.
What degree and skills do you need?
Actuaries usually come with an undergraduate degree at least in a relevant area such as macroeconomics, finance, microeconomics, calculus, physics, engineering, computer science, business, mathematics, or even an actuarial science course that is available at some universities. This is a career where the educational background can be varied. You are not actually required to have one of these more common degrees to become an actuary, you just need to be able to pass the actuarial exams and demonstrate to employers your skills. If you are making a change in career later on in life or have an unrelated degree you might want to consider pursuing an advanced degree in a more relevant area just to demonstrate your aptitude but it is not a requirement. However actuary salaries may be a little higher for those with the skills an employer is looking for.
Key skills and personal characteristics that benefit an actuary include;
- Project management skills
- Problem solving skills
- Being analytical
- Having an understanding of business, finance, economics and accounting
- Excellent written and spoken communication skills
- Computer skills that include being able to create and manage spreadsheets, use statistical analysis software, programming and manipulating databases
- Being creative
- Able to work independently as well as in a team
- Drive and ambition
Income for an actuary is very good with average actuary salaries being somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 a year. Some very successful and experienced actuaries can even bring home more than that. Actuary salaries will vary depending on the state you are in, the city even, your experience, what industry you are in, and the company you work for. There are several sites online you can look at for detailed up to date actuary salaries including the website of D.W. Simpson & Company (actuary salaries) or the United States Actuarial Salary Survey.
As you can see D.W.Simpson look at the middle 80% range not the top or bottom 10%. Actuary salaries for traditional roles according to them fall in the range of $42,000 to $500,000+ depending on what area of insurance you are in. This includes bonuses as well and you can see that the exams and experience directly affect your rate of pay. Looking at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics they give an average Actuary salary of $100,000 a year.