What Are the Odds? Actuary Jobs and Salaries.
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
The monthly premiums that insurance companies charge to protect your car, home, health and life do not arbitrarily come from thin air. Instead, actuaries carefully calculate the odds of specific events happening and ways of compensating you for any losses while still allowing their companies to maintain a profit.
The actuary job is all about numbers: statistics, math, financial theory and probabilities; when is an event most likely to happen, under what conditions and to whom. From their analysis, actuaries can then determine the best insurance policies, pension plans and investments to develop and sell to customers. They perform much of their analysis on computers and then explain their conclusions to managers, consumers and decision-makers to justify changes in corporate products, services and methods. Actuaries typically specialize in health insurance, life insurance, or property and casualty insurance. However, some focus on pension and retirement benefits or consulting.
As of May 2011, actuaries averaged $103,000 per year, or $49.52 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Those interested in the best opportunities worked for insurance carriers, which provided 9,430 out of the total 19,590 jobs, and paid a mean annual $101,000, or $48.56 hourly. They also worked in New York, which contained 2,480 positions averaging $125,590 yearly, or $60.38 per hour, or more specifically, in New York City, where 2,310 actuaries received means of $127,550 per year, or $61.32 per hour.
- The best salaries were in insurance and employee benefit funds at a mean $114,200 yearly, or $54.90 hourly, but for only 490 positions. Pay was highest in Connecticut, averaging an annual $101,930, or $49 per hour, and in Miami, Florida, at a mean $133,150 per year, or $64.02 per hour. The state only had 920 positions, while the city’s employment for the position was not released by the BLS.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification for the position. Acceptable majors include actuarial science, mathematics, business or statistics.
- A typical actuarial science degree includes subjects in calculus, statistics, economics, analysis of regression and time series and communications, with an internship in insurance.
- Courses in computers and programming are also necessary because actuaries can only conduct their analysis with software.
- Certification is typically necessary as well, with most employers requiring at least associate status, which requires completing several exams. The higher-level associate status takes three or four more years plus passing more exams, which employers can pay for. Continuing education is needed to maintain the certifications.
Actuaries who earn fellowship status may end up in supervisory positions, overseeing and training new actuaries, and consulting with senior decision-makers. They may eventually advance to senior management positions, such as chief risk officer or chief financial officer.
- The BLS predicts that jobs for actuary positions will increase by 27 percent, which is almost double the 14 percent predicted for all jobs in the country.
- Most of the opportunities will come from consulting services. However, an increasing and aging population will provide opportunities in health insurance, while climate change spurs demand for property and casualty specialists.