Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?


Job Description:

Actuaries use mathematics and financial theory along with advanced statistics and modeling software to assess the risk factor and cost of an event and help clients develop strategies to minimize the cost of that event. Actuaries are employed by the insurance industry to estimate the probability of health issues, accidents, or natural disasters, and create policies and determine premiums accordingly. Actuarial knowledge and skills may be applied to financial matters, as well as risks across all areas of business, a process known as enterprise risk management.

Actuaries must hold a bachelor's degree, ideally in mathematics, statistics, business, or actuarial science. Many employers expect professional certification from one of two professional societies, the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA), each of which offer two levels of certification, associate and fellowship. Actuaries certified by the CAS specialize in property and casualty insurance, including automobile, homeowner's, medical malpractice, and worker's compensation. The SOA certifies actuaries to work with life and health insurance, retirement benefits, and investments. Actuaries are certified upon successful completion of exams.
Median Salary:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2012, New York, California, and Pennsylvania had the highest number of employed actuaries, with Kansas, New York, and Vermont offering the highest mean wages. The median annual wage for actuaries employed by insurance carriers, an industry with the highest level of employment for actuaries, was $103,470. Actuaries employed by the federal executive branch of the government earned an annual mean wage of $115,560.
Job Outlook:
Projected to grow 27% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Actuaries are expected to be in increasingly high demand in various occupations in the insurance and consulting industries. Actuaries specializing in health insurance are among the most sought-after employees in their field. With frequent changes to national healthcare policies, these actuary specialists should continue to find numerous opportunities assessing the risks of healthcare services, healthcare providers, and new industry developments. Actuaries with experience in property and casualty insurance will also be needed through the next decade, as a result of potential damage from the global climate change as well as the possibility of natural disasters. Insurance carriers and employee benefit funds will offer the most job growth for actuaries in the near future, followed closely by insurance-related agencies and consulting firms.

Continuing Education:

Continuing education may help actuaries achieve a well-rounded education and eventually practice professionally. Actuaries enrolled in continuing education courses will study math, statistics, economics, theory, and actuary methods. Many accredited schools including Columbia University and Loyola University of Chicago feature continuing education courses in actuary science, which provide credits toward a degree and/or professional education in this field. Upon graduation, actuary grads are typically more prepared to pursue a degree program or obtain the necessary certification to receive credentials to become a qualified practicing actuary. Both the Casulaty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries offer professional certification opportunities.