Actuaries are business experts who manage the financial influence of risk, generally relating a business or an individual. In order to carry out their job they make use of their knowledge of mathematics, stats different financial systems and historical data for evaluating the possibility of risks and events in the future. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), actuaries utilize different sets of data for estimating the event’s possibility, in which events like injuries, sickness, deaths, disabilities, or property loss are included. Some usual responsibilities may involve collecting relevant figures, computer software use for analyzing data, strategy development as well as testing for managing the economic influence of specific events, to compile reports and to provide info to the clients.
Usually the actuaries are hired by insurance companies and there are areas in which they may specialize such as life, health, property as well as casualty insurance. On the other hand, some are associated with retirement benefits and pensions, work as risk managers for companies or businesses or offer consultation on a number of actuarial requirements. This kind of work is not possible without teamwork and the team includes insurance and financial professionals. While majority of actuaries serve in their offices for full time, in case of consulting actuaries they need travel as well as work for more than usual hours in order to meet the requirements of clients.
If you want to work as an actuary, then you must possess a bachelor’s degree and you must clear the actuarial exam series. Your major must be in a field of business field like economics or finance, or in a field of mathematics like stats or actuarial science. During school it is good to opt for an internship to gain practical experience so some idea companies, maybe investment insurance and others interested in hiring actuaries. Usually GPA of 3.2 is must for passing the first actuarial exam, as the firm hiring the candidate can judge how good he is at mathematics.
In order to achieve a complete professional status of professional actuary you need to be patient as this may take several years after you graduate from college, and also after you find some job. The reason behind this as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is must to clear seven to nine actuarial exams for achieving full status as a professional (www.bls.gov). The Society of Actuaries (SOA) as well as the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) administer these exams and the actuaries get the professional certification by these two.
The selection of society from which you want certification actually is based on which field you are interested into. For instance, if you want to work in the area of pension systems, health benefits as well as, finance or life insurance then you can simply select the SOA for certification. On the other hand, those who want to work in the areas such as property and casualty insurance, like fire, automobile and personal injury liability insurance then you must select the CAS for certification. The series of first 4 actuarial exams conducted by the SOA and the CAS are totally same. This makes it easy for you to select your specialization field. The certification of SOA and the CAS comprises of two levels i.e. Associate and the Fellowship levels.
Whether you choose the CAS or SOA for certification in order to achieve Associate level of certification the time period of 4-8 years is required. Altogether seven exams need to be completed in order to accomplish the Associate level as well as become a professional in case of CAS. On the other hand, five exams need to be completed in case of the SOA, in addition eight computer modules need to be completed too, two essays as well as a professionalism seminar. Moreover, you need to select a specialty in case of the SOA from these i.e. investments, retirement benefits, individual life and annuities, financial risk management or health benefits.
Whether you select the CAS and SOA almost 2-3 more years are required for reaching the Fellowship level of certification. For attaining Fellowship position in the CAS, two more exams need to be passed on some advanced topics like financial analysis and valuation of insurance. While you would take two additional exams in case of the SOA and those would be on the specialty you select as well as you would be completing three additional computer modules, one more professionalism seminar as well as a fellowship course for admissions.
Pay Scales in the Field of Actuary
As per the BLS report the job opportunities in this area of work was probably increase up to 27% from 2010 to 2020 especially this rise will be in the industry of consulting. Due to increased risk of natural calamities and disasters as well as changes in laws of healthcare, actuaries demands increased too. There is high competition of posts although it is not a big profession. Those who finished an internship as well as cleared one or more actuarial exams should enjoy the maximum benefits. As per the BLS, the average salaries that actuaries had in 2013 were $94k.