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What Are the Odds? Actuary Jobs and Salaries.

Updated on December 26, 2018

© 2018 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 2017, actuaries averaged $114,850 per year, or $55.21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Those interested in the best opportunities worked for insurance carriers, which provided 9,980 out of the total 19,210 jobs, and paid a mean annual $114,850, or $55.21 hourly. They also worked mostly in New York, which contained 2,580 positions averaging $145,180 yearly, or $69.80 per hour, or more specifically, in New York City, where 1,960 actuaries received means of $146,740 per year, or $70.55 per hour.
  • The best salaries were in business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations at a mean $132,480 yearly, or $63.69 hourly, but for only 40 positions. Pay was highest in New York city and New York state.


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 22 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is more than triple the 7 percent predicted for all jobs in the country.
  • Opportunities are available from companies managing their own risk, also known as enterprise risk management. Insurance companies, particularly health insurance companies, will also be hiring professionals who can evaluate the effects of changing healthcare rules.

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