Table of Contents,
- 1 Overview
- 2 What is an Actuary?
- 3 What Does An Actuary Do?
- 4 Actuary Responsibilities
- 5 Skills you need to become an Actuary
- 6 Analytical
- 7 Problem-solving
- 8 Mathematics
- 9 Computers and Technology
- 10 Communication
- 11 12 Different Types Of Actuaries And Their Role Description
- 12 How to Become an Actuary
- 13 Exam Options
- 14 Timeline for Certification
- 15 Setting Expectations
- 16 Standard Path
- 17 Alternative Options
- 18 The 10 Best Actuarial Science Colleges in the US
- 19 1. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
- 20 2. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
- 21 3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
- 22 4. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
- 23 5. Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
- 24 6. University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)
- 25 7. University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
- 26 8. University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE)
- 27 9. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
- 28 10. Bentley University (Waltham, MA)
- 29 Job Prospects for Actuaries
- 30 Actuary Salary
Becoming an actuary is great for people who are looking for a rewarding and stable career. The path may be long, but comes with many perks (such as starting work right after your bachelor’s degree). We’ve laid out a step-by-step guide for how to become an actuary. Though getting an actuary degree may be the first obvious step, you’ll be surprised by the many options that are available.
Read on for a detailed overview of the actuary career. We’ll answer common questions, such as “How long does it take to become an actuary?” and “What kind of actuary certification will I need?”
What is an Actuary?
An actuary analyzes financial data in order to assess possible risks for companies. They help businesses plan and prevent future losses.
Most often, actuaries work for insurance companies to assess the possible risks of certain insurance policies for certain candidates. They use statistics and numerical data to prevent risky policies and minimize damage.
Actuaries analyze numbers and statistics to assess risk. They are the professionals responsible for setting your insurance rates, ensuring your retirement plan meets your financial needs, and much more. They use tools to help companies determine potential liabilities and decrease the negative effects from possible future events. Actuaries help businesses plan for the future and insulate them from losses. Their work is essential in the insurance industry, where they help design policies and determine premiums that are profitable yet competitive.
This career field has a bright outlook, which means it has a faster than average career outlook for job openings.However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 5,000 new jobs over the 10-year period.
What Does An Actuary Do?
Actuaries are very prevalent in insurance companies, where they assess the risks involved in granting insurance policies. However, actuaries can be found in any work environment that needs risk management and assessment. For example, you can find actuaries in government departments, financial companies, or tech companies.
Besides being great strategists, actuaries need good computer and math skills to analyze statistics, crunch numbers, and navigate computer software. This is why actuaries will often study both mathematics and computer science.
Actuaries may work alongside accountants and financial analysts, who provide them with additional information in order to assess financial portfolios and possible financial risk.
Here are examples of responsibilities from real actuary resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.
- Support the development and implementation of manually-rate renewal strategies, led by a seasonal FSA.
- Manage the design, implementation and oversight of all insurance and reinsurance pricing functions and processes for corporations.
- Extract and analyze data by state using SAS in order to analyze and project Medicaid costs.
- Design and implement improved SOX controls.
- Provide technical review for six DAC models for each quarter end.
- Update duration calculation formula to deliver more reasonable behavior of A/E ratio in Alteryx.
- Support Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) due diligence which include control checks and automate control reports.
- Create a pricing model in motor insurance with a big data set using SQL and VBA with teammates.
- Conduct risk score review and analysis for Medicare and commercial clients, and identify ways to improve coding.
- Involve in the new financial reporting and monitoring processes as well as helping design other Medicaid analytic tracking and monitoring processes.
- Prepare reports and PowerPoint slides for executive leadership.
- Identify emerging issues and trends that impact corporate profitability within Medicare and merge market risk segments.
- Present findings and recommendations, via Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, from research projects to senior management within the organization.
- Provide analysis and forecasting of investment and crediting rate experience to management on agreed- upon dates and maintain ALM modeling.
- Lead actuarial consultant on NALIS to Cyberlife traditional life conversion.
- Administer payroll, conduct accounts reconciliations, and track all A/R and A/P.
Skills you need to become an Actuary
Broadly speaking, actuaries analyze and minimize the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. To perform daily tasks, actuaries need keen skills related to analytics, problem-solving, mathematics, computers and technology, and communication.
Analytical skills help professionals gather and dissect information. Actuaries apply analytical skills to identify trends in complex data sets and to determine factors impacting current financial events and risk areas.
Problem-solving skills involve determining the underlying issues of a problem and developing effective solutions. Actuaries primarily use problem-solving skills to identify, manage, and mitigate risk.
Actuaries must be proficient in advanced mathematics areas, including calculus, statistics, and probability. Professionals also benefit from knowledge of college-level algebra, trigonometry, and linear algebra. Actuaries use math skills to design financially sound insurance, pension, and financial plans.
Computers and Technology
Actuaries utilize complex computer programs to solve mathematics and statistics problems. They must be able to create and understand spreadsheets. Actuaries also benefit from knowledge related to database manipulation, programming languages, and statistical analysis programs.
Actuaries must be able to translate complex information into layman’s terms. Actuaries frequently share dense numerical data and technical information with business executives, fund managers, and customers researching insurance plans.
12 Different Types Of Actuaries And Their Role Description
There are many different types of actuaries employed across various industries with insurance sector being the top recruiter. Let’s have a look at who they are and what they do.
- Life Insurance Actuary
- Health Insurance Actuary
- Pension Actuary
- Property And Casualty Actuary
- Enterprise Risk Management Actuary
- Investment Actuary
- Finance Actuary
- Pricing Actuary
- Valuation Actuary
- Reinsurance Pricing Actuary
- Corporate Actuary
- Forensic Actuary
- Life Insurance Actuary
Among all the actuaries, life insurance actuary is one of the most common. These types of actuaries work for insurance and reinsurance companies which offer products like whole life insurance and term life insurance.
Insurance companies sell thousands of policies every year. Life insurance actuaries help these companies to properly price the life insurance policy and determine the insurance premium for such policies.
Life insurance actuaries use mortality rates to find out the percentage of people that will die in any given year. The mortality rate for any person depends on various factors like age, gender and smoking status.
They use these mortality rates to find out what should be the insurance premium for different policies. Someone who is expected to live more than 30 years will pay lower premium than someone who is expected to live less than 10 years.
Life insurance claims are very hard to predict accurately as these are high cost low frequency claims. There is lot of variability involved in the amount insurance company has to pay each year.
Life insurance actuaries also have to take into account the lapse rate which is the rate at which the policyholders cancel their policies. High frequency of early cancellations can result in high insurance premiums because most of the expenses are incurred at the beginning of the policy.
- Health Insurance Actuary
Health insurance actuaries work with health insurance companies and help them to predict the actual cost of healthcare covered under insurance contract. These predictions are based on various factors like family history, occupation and geographical location.
Mostly health insurance actuaries are involved in designing group insurance plans which cover employer disability, dental, health and medication. They also provide policies to people who are self employed or employees who are not covered by their employer.
Actuaries that work in disability insurance try to predict how many policyholders will be unable to work each year and how much money insurance company will have to pay these policyholders to replace their lost income.
These types of actuaries also have to determine how soon the policy holder can get back to work because the longer the policyholder is out of work the longer the insurance company have to pay them.
Health insurance claims are fairly easy to predict accurately as these are considered as low cost high frequency claims. Health insurance actuaries use past data in order to predict how much money the policyholders will be spending on prescription drugs, dental benefits and health related sessions.
These types of actuaries use lot of data for analysis and most of the data is collected from policyholders. They also have to take into account the demographics, lapse rates, claim frequency and increasing medication costs.
- Pension Actuary
Pension actuaries are responsible for calculating the employer’s contribution as well as retirement benefits of pension plan participants. These types of actuaries help the plan sponsors to calculate sufficient balance required to fund the retirement benefits of pension plan participants.
These calculations are based on various assumptions about future events like retirement, disability, death and termination of employment. They also take into account the future economic events like interest rates and increase in salaries.
Pension actuaries do not deal with any insurance product but they create and price investment and annuity products which help the individuals to be financially prepared after retirement. These types of actuaries work with employers to develop retirement pension plans for employees.
Pension actuaries use current interest rates to determine the pricing of annuities. If interest rates rise, then the price of annuity will decrease as the insurance company will be able to earn more form increasing interest rates.
Pension actuaries try to predict how long people will live and how long people will be receiving payments. They also use mortality rates to determine the price of an annuity. Since mortality rates are higher among older people, pension actuaries would expect fewer annuity payments, hence reducing the price of the annuity.
- Property And Casualty Actuary
Property and casualty actuaries are one of the most common types of general actuaries or non-life actuaries. They work with general insurance companies and help them develop insurance policies that ensure against property loss and liabilities resulting from accidents, natural disasters or any other events.
These types of actuaries use their skills to analyze the risk emerging from climate change, ride sharing, automated vehicles and cyber liability. They are also responsible for pricing, predictive modeling, capital and risk management, strategic and financial management and catastrophe modeling.
Claims under property and casualty insurance are considered as high frequency low severity claims. These types of claims are easy to predict accurately. Vehicle insurance actuaries predict the probability of the policyholder getting into an accident and also the cost of the accident.
Property insurance actuaries determine the likelihood of property getting damaged from flooding, fire, extreme weather and anything else that can cause damage to the property. Such policy also covers for the loss due to theft of the items within the house.
Similar to health insurance actuaries, these types of actuaries also collect most of their data from policyholders. Demographics play an important role and due to high frequency of claims there is lot of data available for analysis.
Companies that provide property and casualty insurance in high crime areas will demand a higher premium for their insurance policies compared to the companies which insures people in low crime areas.
- Enterprise Risk Management Actuary
Enterprise risk management is a process of identifying critical risks faced by an organization, prioritizing them, quantifying their financial impact and developing organizational solutions to address them.
Primary responsibility of an enterprise risk management actuary is to consolidate all the risks which are faced by the company and determine the financial impact due to those risks. Their skills are not just limited to insurance companies.
One of the examples of an ERM actuary is to determine the cost and the potential impact of negative reputation on the organization. Any negative reputation would result in lower sales, lower revenue and legal charges.
Depending upon the severity, loss of reputation can even force the company to go out of business. The ERM actuary recognizes this and encourages the company to keep enough capital to survive such situations.
This is very important for insurance companies as thousands of people rely on them to collect insurance claims when the time comes. Enterprise risk management can prevent such companies from going out of business and protect their policyholders.
- Investment Actuary
Investment actuary is an actuary that either manages investments directly or provides an advice on how to manage investments. As with all the actuaries, their main focus tends to be on risk management.
Investment actuaries work in areas like investment banking, investment consulting, investment management and retail financial advice. They are also involved in day to day activities in capital markets, derivative markets, forex and property markets.
Investment actuaries have strong analytical skills and deep understanding about interaction between assets and liabilities which is very important while advising or managing assets backing insurance and pension liabilities.
- Finance Actuary
Finance actuaries work in areas like corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, capital management and financial reporting. They have strong understanding about the working of insurance companies and other financial institutions.
Finance actuaries and financial analysts have very similar responsibilities as they both are involved in analyzing the data and reducing the risk of financial troubles. However, finance actuaries work closely with insurance companies whereas financial analysts are more focused on investment strategies.
The job responsibility of a finance actuary includes gathering data, performing calculations, evaluating investment options, determining the likelihood of any specific event occurring and recommending policies or investments to other people.
- Pricing Actuary
Pricing actuaries are statisticians who primarily work for financial industries or insurance companies. They use their analytical and math skills to determine the price of the products by analyzing data and calculating risks.
These types of actuaries collect and analyze statistical data to determine the claim payout in event of death, serious injury, property loss, disability or claims resulting from any casualties. They use this data to develop profitable yet competitive product pricing.
The decisions made by pricing actuaries should be high enough to cover the expenses and cost associated with insurance claims and to maximize the returns for insurance company. They are also involved in developing the policies and plans for new products and designing financially sound insurance and pension plans.
- Valuation Actuary
Valuation actuaries are responsible for calculating the reserves for life insurance and annuity companies, calculating the liabilities for financial statements and determining the valuation of the companies involved in mergers and acquisitions.
They ensure that the insurance company has enough reserves to pay for the expenses and claims that will be due in future. Once reserves are calculated they are also responsible for creating the source of earnings.
These types of actuaries use different valuation models to determine the reserves required by insurance company. In order to keep these valuation models up to date and accurate, they have to update the assumptions used in these models on an annual basis.
- Reinsurance Pricing Actuary
Like primary insurance, reinsurance is also a mechanism to spread out the risk. The reinsurer takes on some portion of the risk assumed by the primary insurer and charges an appropriate premium for that.
The main difference between reinsurance and primary insurance is that reinsurance contracts are more favorable to the buyer. The reinsurance pricing actuaries are responsible for estimating the risk and calculating the pricing of reinsurance contracts.
- Corporate Actuary
Corporate actuary is mostly involved either with product development or with financial reporting and valuation. They have special financial knowledge to analyze the results, feedback and the product pricing process.
Corporate actuaries also involved in corporate mergers and acquisitions, expense management, risk management, capital management, asset liability management and also in developing new performance measures for the company.
- Forensic Actuary
Forensic actuaries have a key role to play in providing litigation support in insurance and reinsurance cases. They serve as an expert witness where loss reserves and pricing issues are important. They can also act as arbitrators while resolving a dispute for insurance policy or reinsurance contract.
How to Become an Actuary
Actuaries need a bachelor’s degree, typically in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field. Students must complete coursework in economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance, and must pass a series of exams to become certified professionals.
Actuaries must have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business. Typically, an actuary has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field.
To become certified professionals, students must complete coursework in economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance.
Students also should take classes outside of mathematics and business to prepare them for a career as an actuary. Coursework in computer science, especially programming languages, and the ability to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools, are valuable. Classes in writing and public speaking will improve students’ ability to communicate in the business world.
Actuarial science is the study of risk management and uses mathematics to measure the probability of future events. It makes sense that if you want to become an actuary you need to study mathematics. What can be less clear is the other subjects and your own interests that will look great on your CV. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of key subjects and extra activities for you to consider.
This is an obvious one, but it’s worth remembering just why mathematics is so essential to the work of an actuary. The world of numbers and statistics are at the core of actuarial science. If you have a knack for maths and don’t mind being surrounded by data and statistics all day, actuarial science may be the job for you. To keep developing this skill, remember to focus on practical rather than theoretical maths. Think about ways that statistics daily life. Try and challenge yourself with new mathematical formulas.
Maths is the subject most associated with this career, but other maths-based subjects, such as physics, are useful as well. Subjects such as further maths, physics, economics, accounting, engineering, chemistry, and statistics are all important for future actuary students. The will prepare you for a life spent working with numbers and give you a good overview of how maths works in practice.
- Communication-based subjects
Much of your work will involve communicating with other people. Actuaries need to talk to colleagues — who may not have a financial or mathematics background — and explain their findings. You could find yourself working in a wide range of fields, from insurance or pensions to corporate finance, healthcare or even agriculture. Subjects such as English, drama, foreign languages, politics and philosophy will all be a great addition to your skillset. Focus on improving your written and conversational skills. You don’t need to have the confidence to address a room full of executivesyet, but realise that this scenario might be in your future. So, try and prepare for it!
In much of your job as an actuary, you will use computer programming languages to collect, organise and analyse data sets and produce reports. Keep in mind school subjects like computer science or digital technology. While you probably won’t need to know how to build your own website, knowing your way around a spreadsheet or programming languages, such as SQL, R and Python, can be incredibly useful.
- Additional subjects
You could spend much of your time as an actuary working in large corporate organisations managing risks that drastically affect the outcome of the business’s projected profits or efficiency. Studying business, law, psychology or sociology help you in a business environment. Going into the industry with a working knowledge of how most businesses function and the ins and outs of the finances will set you apart from the rest.
- Other activities
It’s not all about what you do in the classroom (though your grades do count quite a bit, sorry)—showing that you have a life that reflects your passion can also work in your favour. If you want to build up your social skills, why not try volunteering at a local charity shop or food bank. They need the help and you can learn to become more comfortable talking and chatting in a work environment. Team sports such as football or hockey can teach you about leadership, strategy and improve your social skills.
Taking up an instrument can be a fun creative hobby that also looks good on your CV as it shows perseverance and self-directed learning. If it’s available at your school, consider volunteering to be a peer tutor. This is a great way to build up your skills while helping others. More relaxing activities such as board games or computer games can also help you prepare for a future career. Games that rely on strategy and focus can help bring the idea of risk assessment and strategy into your everyday life. Pick up a hobby like this over the summer and you won’t regret it.
- Earn an Undergraduate Degree
The most direct educational path is an undergraduate actuarial science degree. Another common approach is to complete a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, or commerce. Prospective actuaries can also choose seemingly unrelated majors like engineering or art, as employers put more emphasis on completed certification exams.
- Licenses, Certification, and Registrations
Some universities offer an actuarial science degree, and while the coursework can help prepare you for professional exams, the degree alone is not enough to get your foot in the door of the actuarial profession.
Potential employers will be looking for you to complete a set of exams with one of two professional bodies, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). These societies administer a series of six actuarial science exams that typically take four to six years to complete for associate status, and a series of three exams that take another two to three years to achieve fellowship level. Exams cover a variety of topics relevant to the profession, including probability, interest theory, risk management, life contingencies, and specific insurance topics.
The SOA certifies actuaries in the fields of life insurance, health benefits systems, retirement systems, and finance and investment. The CAS covers the property and casualty field — auto, homeowners, medical malpractice, workers compensation, and personal injury liability.
Timeline for Certification
Students need between six and nine years before they can become fully certified at the fellowship level. If you take your first exam and fail, don’t give up. Course material is extremely complex, and typically only 40% to 50% of students pass each time, according to Actuarial-lookup.com. Exams can be retaken as often as every two months.
In addition to passing the seven exams, there are Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) courses in economics, accounting and finance, and mathematical statistics that are required to become an associate level actuary. These courses can be taken once you have passed your first two exams, and you can take these courses online.
Actuarial science exams are difficult tests, and the general study standard says you need to study 100 hours for each hour of exam time. For instance, if you have a three-hour test, you should schedule 300 hours of study time to master all the concepts and give you the best chance at successfully passing the exam.
These are strikingly challenging exams, but knowing the statistics on passing can help exam-takers to set reasonable expectations for themselves. Chances are most if not all of your actuarial co-workers have failed at least one exam. Plus, since it is industry practice for those employed in the field to have study time paid by their employers, even a failed exam can be seen as just part of the process.
Keep in mind it’s rare for anyone to successfully complete all their actuary exams on the first attempt, so a couple of failing grades will not harm your job prospects. Exams are graded on a scale of 0-10, with anything six or higher being a passing grade. Beyond pass or fail, employers really don’t care what you score, so don’t beat yourself up striving for perfection. There’s no need to try for a higher score if you pass with a six; just celebrate the fact that you passed!
While you are studying, you can also attend job fairs, speak to the career center at your school, and apply for an internship. Most students complete an actuarial internship during or after their education. Internships in underwriting, data analysis, investments, and risk management are great choices, as are any type of position in the insurance field. Internships provide valuable experience and help an aspiring actuary’s resume, but they are also a great way to test the waters and see what direction you would like to take your actuarial career. An actuary internship will substantially increase your chances of landing higher-paying employment upon completion of your undergraduate degree.
Most entry-level actuaries start out as trainees. They are typically on teams with more experienced actuaries who serve as mentors. At first, they perform basic tasks, such as compiling data, but as they gain more experience, they may conduct research and write reports. Beginning actuaries may spend time working in other departments, such as marketing, underwriting, and product development, to learn all aspects of the company’s work and how actuarial work applies to them.
Most employers support their actuaries throughout the certification process. For example, employers typically pay the cost of exams and study materials. Many firms provide paid time to study and encourage their employees to set up study groups. Employees usually receive raises or bonuses for each exam that they pass.
- The Actuarial Career
Most often, you will complete an undergraduate degree and start your actuary certification process with one of the two professional bodies in the United States, SOA or CAS. However, you don’t have to complete your undergrad before starting the certification exams, and it’s actually recommended that you start studying and pass at least one or two exams while you’re still in school.
Passing the first two preliminary exams will demonstrate your aptitude for the type of math and other skills required on the job and show recruiters you are serious about your commitment to the industry.
Employers look for potential actuaries with at least one passed exam, and many seek out job candidates who have passed at least two exams. They then are likely to train you on the job, provide paid study time, set up employee study groups, and pay for your remaining exams. It is standard industry practice for insurance companies and consulting firms to provide such incentives, along with bonuses and raises for each passed exam.
After you have passed the first couple of exams, you will be able to land a job as an actuarial analyst. Even if you have a hard time with the rest of the exams, you do have the option to stop here and continue your career as an analyst or an actuarial consultant for which you will still be well compensated.
Also, if you’ve followed the traditional path and choose to stop after a couple of exams, you will have a number of business and finance skills which will allow you to successfully switch careers. Jobs in finance, as a business analyst, or in project management are all great related career choices.
The 10 Best Actuarial Science Colleges in the US
1. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Penn State knows that actuaries are becoming the number one job in the US; as a result, they make sure to offer students a variety of ways to tap into this essential and growing career field.
Whether students want to pursue actuarial science as a major or minor, at Penn they can craft their degree experience to their particular needs.
This opens the door for students to pursue different focuses that they feel might suit them better than just an actuarial science degree.
No matter what path a student decides to go on, they will have access to some of the best resources available to help them make it through the program.
Financially, Penn has three departmental scholarships for those in actuarial science and offers information on at least twelve outside scholarships.
These scholarships are not only for tuition, but for exam fees for students who take their exams during their time in the program.
Academically, students can join the Penn Actuarial Society. This organization provides guest lectures from potential employers, study material, and social events for further networking.
For study help, The Department of Statistics and Data Science makes sure that students have free access to their library where exam study material can be checked out for up to six months.
Its flexibility, being part of a globally recognized university, and proximity to some of the biggest business hubs in the nation, makes Penn’s actuarial science degree one of the best picks for aspiring actuaries.
2. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
UCLA’s name speaks for itself in terms of its prestige and academic quality.
Because it excels in so many areas, including mathematics and technology, its actuarial sciences program takes a bit of a different approach to preparing students for their careers.
Though UCLA has an actuarial science degree, it also encourages students to consider other pathways to becoming an actuary.
The Bruin Actuarial Society on-campus offers information on different degree paths like applied mathematics, business economics, and statistics that can lead to actuarial jobs. Students may see this and feel concerned they aren’t getting all the information they need to pass exams.
But in addition to coursework, the university also provides supplemental resources like workshops on the actuarial exams, actuarial career fairs, and even a mentorship program.
UCLA’s mathematics program is passionate about using applied math to solve real-world problems.
As a result, they are ranked number two in the nation for their applied mathematics research.
Whether students go for the direct degree path to actuarial science or on an alternate but related path, they will find the tools they need to become the actuarial innovators of the future.
3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
Another Center for Actuarial Excellence, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has everything students need to prepare for the workforce.
Taught by faculty like Dr. Erhan Bayraker, who has published in some of the top research journals on mathematics and finance, students at Michigan are receiving their education straight from sources of expertise.
The actuarial science program is housed in the university’s Mathematics Department, which has a tradition of producing award-winning graduates.
Those in actuarial mathematics have the potential to win departmental awards such as the KPMG Award in Actuarial Excellence or the Marc Altschull Actuarial Award.
Students also have access to a range of scholarships including the Margaret S Huntington Prize in Actuarial Outreach and the Mathematics Emergency Award.
This award-winning status could be a result of the extracurricular culture at UofM, as many students participate in degree-related activities over the summer.
UofM offers opportunities for students to be part of research with the REU, work at summer camps, and even teach through organizations like Breakthrough Collaborative.
The University of Michigan is known for its excellence, and its actuarial program is no exception.
4. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
UConn knows how overwhelming picking a major can be for students. To actively provide students with support in this process, it offers Exploration Groups that allow students to pick an area of interest to focus their studies on.
Nestled within the many different groups is the Math and Engineering Exploration Group, and it is here that students can explore the actuarial science program.
Students who want to know how to apply actuarial science to real-life situations can work with Dr. Jay Vadiveloo, leading expert and director of The Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research.
This university think-tank has produced research on topics from retirement to mortality and offers year-round opportunities to work with, or intern for, the center.
It can be intimidating to pursue an actuarial science degree, and it helps to have input from those who have a little more experience.
UConn’s Directed Reading Program is set up to do just this; in this independent study program, undergrads are paired with graduate students who are in the same field.
Undergrads are then expected to treat the program like a class; by the end of the semester, they will present on something related to their topic of interest.
For those who want help but would rather do it in a more independent manner, there is the Coaching Actuaries Resources. This program gives students access to quizzes, forums, and practice exams.
If that wasn’t enough support, UConn resides in one of the insurance hubs of America, making it the perfect place for aspiring actuaries to find support, community, and – most importantly – jobs!
5. Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Most people know Purdue because of their famous (or infamous depending on your relationship with writing) Online Writing Lab (OWL Purdue); but their excellence goes far beyond writing.
Just take a look at the actuarial science program that is part of the university’s math and statistics departments.
Purdue challenges students to go above and beyond, and their actuarial science degree path is one of the most rigorous.
Students have the option to do a normal plan of study or an honors plan of study, but all who attend will come out of the program with both an Actuarial Science degree and Statistics degree.
On the way to getting a degree, students will have the opportunity to participate in research. During the summer, students can work with faculty to conduct research at Purdue’s prestigious Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering.
For those who want to focus more on data, they can access The Data Mine, a program where cohorts are exposed to practical data-problems and taught how to ethically handle them.
As a way to further support its students on the long road to passing exams, Purdue offers Exam Awards to each student who successfully completes an exam in the program. This award covers most or all of the exam fees, making the path to becoming an actuary more accessible.
Purdue’s offerings are in alignment with its designation as a Center of Actuarial Excellence, so students can rest assured they will be well prepared to achieve their dreams.
6. University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)
At UW-Madison, it isn’t an either/or matter when it comes to the importance of who you know versus what you know – it is both/and.
Housed in the School of Business and connected to the university’s risk-management and insurance program, students are given an interdisciplinary experience that gives them the knowledge and connections they need to be successful.
This connection experience starts early for the program; through the Actuarial Awareness Night and regular trips to the local high schools, UW-Madison engages the community and inspires young people who are beginning to think about their careers after high school. For those that decide to take the plunge into actuarial science, the university offers The UW-Madison Actuarial Program Scholarship to help them get started in their first semester.
If students are looking to focus their actuarial science degree in insurance, they are in luck; the Department of Risk and Insurance is one of the top programs in the U.S. This department is known for its excellence in research on insurance and has been known to partner with the state government to inform policy and decision-making.
The “who” of UW-Madison includes a wide range of specialized faculty. Faculty aren’t just experts in areas of mathematics and statistics; indeed, many have first-hand experience as actuaries and bring this expertise to their teaching.
An education by actuaries for aspiring actuaries only adds to a student’s rate of success.
Alumni from the UW-Madison actuarial science program go on to work for companies that include Travelers, American Family Insurance, Northwestern Mutual, and many more. Attend UW-Madison and benefit from their awarding winning combination of community and experience.
7. University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
Texas often claims it does everything bigger (and thus better) than anyone else, and UT’s actuarial science program certainly lends some validity to this assertion.
Even just a casual perusal of the program’s Risky Business newsletter reveals a program with high achieving students, faculty, and alumni.
UT’s actuarial science program believes, in order to be successful, actuaries need to come from all backgrounds.
Because of this, the program is affiliated with a wide range of actuarial societies including the International Association of Black Actuaries, the Network of Actuarial Women and Allies, the Organization of Latino Actuaries, and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance of Actuaries.
Actuaries also need real world experience, so students are offered the chance to compete in the annual Case Competition.
This competition gives students the chance to experience the kind of work they would do as an actuary.
8. University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE)
The actuarial science program at R-1 ranked the University of Nebraska knows a little something about academic excellence.
If creating a database that can search for all academic papers published since 1990 in five of the top actuarial science journals isn’t an indicator of this, nothing is.
University of Nebraska’s actuarial science program believes that a quality education means giving students a choice in the path they can take to become an actuary.
As a result, students can choose to complete their degree through either the College of Business or the College of Arts and Sciences.
Depending on their interest, students will be able to concentrate their studies in areas that include Life/Health, Property/Casualty, and Enterprise Management.
Speaking of Property and Casualty, the program is affiliated with the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and has two on campus liaisons to connect students to the resources and networks they need to be successful.
In addition, the University of Nebraska’s actuarial science program is connected to a local Society of Actuaries (SOA) club, the Nebraska Actuaries Club, which offers students access to the NAC scholarship.
With a wide variety of paths to choose from, students at the University of Nebraska’s Actuarial Science program can cater their career path to their special interests. Education doesn’t get much better than that.
9. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
The University of Iowa is known not only for having the second oldest actuarial program, but for being the alma mater of the man who wrote the book on statistics – or at least one of the most widely used textbooks.
Robert Hogg went on to teach at Iowa, and his legacy continues to inspire excellence in the university’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science.
There is a reason why the alumni of the University of Iowa’s actuarial science program go on to be presidents of the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. From the first time a student voices interest in pursuing an actuarial science degree, they are sent to advisors to create a plan for success.
Considering the university is rated a CAE by the SOA, the department knows exactly how to direct students in their degree path and through their actuarial exams; advisors even go so far as to lay out a template schedule for what exams need to be taken and when.
Students will also have access to an extensive network of current and former students through organizations like the on-campus Actuarial Science Club and the program’s close ties to the Fellows of the Society of Actuaries.
The University of Iowa hosts annual actuarial career fairs, provides special topic colloquium speakers, awards students of excellence at the yearly Hogg and Craig Lecture, assists in accessing actuary related scholarships, and even has Excel tournaments students can compete in. Students aren’t just studying actuarial science at Iowa; they are learning to be actuaries of prestige.
10. Bentley University (Waltham, MA)
Bentley University is committed to producing ethical business leaders who get jobs after graduation.
With a top-ranked career center and partnerships with some of the biggest businesses around, Bentley students can be confident that their education will translate well to the real world.
Within Bentley’s actuarial science program, the university-wide commitment to career success is reflected in the fact that 97% of its students complete an internship, and it has an overall 98% job placement rate.
Students have access to internships with businesses like Liberty Mutual, Cigna, and John Hancock, many of which turn into job offers.
Rated as having an advanced curriculum by the Society of Actuaries (SOA), students can be confident that the education they are getting is preparing them for preliminary exams.
In addition, among the program instructors are individuals who have won the Beckenbach Book Prize, Fulbright scholarships, and more.
A great curriculum and teaching staff are important, but on-campus involvement can push students to the next level of success.
Bentley actuarial students have access to on-campus groups like the Gamma Iota Sigma fraternity and the Mathematical Science Club. Both offer opportunities for actuarial students to network and connect to businesses that could be future employers.
Job Prospects for Actuaries
If you are thinking about becoming an actuary, it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone who will discourage you from going down the actuary career path. Actuary jobs made the list of 100 Best Jobs by US News & World Report in 2021, not to mention ranking #16 in Best Business Jobs, #23 in Best Paying Jobs, and #25 in Best STEM Jobs.
The US Department of Labor predicts an 18% growth rate in actuary jobs from 2019 to 2029, a rate much faster than the average career. Actuarial careers consistently rank as one of the best jobs in our economy, and this is likely to increase as we come to rely on data in more and more industries. According to Department of Labor statistics, actuaries in 2019 found themselves working in the following fields:
- 71% in finance and insurance
- 13% in professional, scientific, and technical services
- 6% in management of companies and enterprises
- 4% in self-employment
- 3% in government
The insurance industry will fuel the majority of job growth over the next decade. Health insurance in particular is expected to see high levels of job growth as actuaries are needed to evaluate the effects of changing healthcare regulations. Additionally, more actuaries are expected to work in enterprise risk management, helping individual companies manage their own risk.
From 2019 to 2029, the actuary field is expected to grow by 18%, a pace much faster than the overall job market according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a current median salary of $111,030 per year, the actuarial profession outperforms other mathematical science occupations and provides an income nearly three times the average American job. High demand combined with high salary offers you the prospect of a secure and prosperous career.
Actuaries can often anticipate a full-time yet flexible schedule for a quality work-life balance and enjoy comfortable working conditions in an office environment. In addition to these features, Forbes magazine has named it one of the best professions for women, and it is considered one of the best industries in an economic downturn according to “150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs” by career expert Laurence Shatkin.
This is one field in which employees will rarely lament about low paying jobs. According to Salary.com, entry level actuary jobs offer an average of $72,700 and increase significantly as you gain experience and complete certifications.
By the time you complete your certifications and become an associate or fellow, you could be making over $100,000 a year. For example, the median salary for actuarial analysts is $113,300, with average employees earning between $98,200 and $126,900.
The high salary range and growing opportunities promise a bright future to potential actuaries. For those who reach the highest status, top actuarial executives, Salary.com data puts the average compensation including bonuses at more than $475,000, with the top 10% earning over $740,000. These numbers make it seem much more attractive to put in the hard work to excel in an actuarial career.
FAQs, about actuary
How many years does it take to be an actuary?
7 to 10 years are needed.
Is it hard to become actuary?
Becoming an actuary is lengthy and extends well beyond school graduation.
Is becoming an actuary worth it?
This line of work frequently provides a competitive wage.
How do I start to become an actuary?
Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree and Additional Courses to Finish then Apply to a Professional Organisation and Succeed on Certification Exams.
How to become an actuary with an economics degree?
Pass the test and apply for an internship or job.
Annual range: $150,000 to $250,000.
How to become an actuary in california?
Need a bachelor’s degree and must pass several tests.
How to become an actuary in texas?
Earn a degree, Pass two tests, Technical expertise, Internship, Get job, Obtain Associateship, Fellowship, Get promoted to management.
How to become an actuary with a maths degree?
Actuaries obtain a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or statistics.