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How to Become an Actuary

If you’re looking to start your career path as a finance professional, becoming an actuary might be the next best step for you.  An actuary supports the internal operations of a company by estimating and managing financial risk and uncertainty. This role requires you to have strong analytical skills and a detail-oriented mindset to ensure accurate forecasting. 

Actuaries are primarily responsible for eliminating financial risk, so they spend most of their time creating detailed reports that allow them to find patterns and faults within a company’s business model. Workers in this position are also required to manage assets and liabilities to evaluate and ensure the efficiency of these accounts.

This career opportunity includes a large range of duties and responsibilities. It is critical for actuaries to have a solid foundation of financial concepts and statistics to make good decisions regarding the financial health of the company they plan to work for. 

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is looking to hire an actuary. As our new actuary, you will be tasked with helping keep our business on the growth path and avoid as many adversities as possible. While we understand that every business encounters growing pains and certain resistance in their growth endeavors, we feel that with a skilled and relentless actuary you will help us to avoid some of these and optimize our potential. You will be in charge of gathering data from employees, computer systems, financial records, and hiring records in order to effectively assess potential risks within our company. If you enjoy a challenging but rewarding career, and are willing to work hard daily to always give us your best, then we want to talk with you.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Create comprehensive reports that will allow you to find patterns and imperfections in the business model
  • Help clients minimize the financial risks associated with a company 
  • Gather and analyze statistical data
  • Develop reports, graphs, and tables 
  • Translate technological data into simpler terms 
  • Hold meetings with clients
  • Prepare presentations and showcase risk findings
  • Calculate insurance policies for the clients

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or equivalent 
  • Bachelor’s degree in science, mathematics, statistics, business, or a related field 
  • Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society certifications
  • Experience with statistics software

Required skills and qualifications

  • Strong mathematical skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Analytical skills 
  • Detail-oriented 
  • Skilled in taking calculated risks
  • Knowledge of statistics and an excellent trend reader
  • Technologically competent 
  • Familiarity with financial concepts
  • Good organizational skills
  • Knowledge of GAAP
  • Advanced Microsoft skills

Preferred qualifications

  • 5 years of experience as an actuary in a multi-million dollar company
  • Master’s degree in finance or a related field
  • Certifications related to becoming an actuary

Typical work environment

Actuaries work in an office setting. When not in the office, there will be times when they travel to meet with clients, especially if they work in a firm. Generally, actuaries work closely with a manager or teammates who work in a related field. This job can be considered a sedentary job as most of the work is done on a computer.

Typical hours

The majority of actuaries work full-time and average 40 hours per week or more. Working the traditional Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM business hours is most popular with actuaries.

Steps to become an Actuary

Becoming an actuary may seem daunting, but taking classes or getting certifications will help you secure your position in the workforce. There are online platforms like Udemy or Coursera that offer classes to get you started. There are also several certifications available, including:

  • Associate of the Society of Actuaries Certification (ASA) – This certification increases the knowledge needed for an actuary. It teaches basic methods and applies those to unforeseen events in the workplace. To obtain this certification, you’ll need to take an exam, verify your education, and also do a project assessment.
  • Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) – This certification verifies that you have agreed to the standards of the actuarial profession. There aren’t any guidelines or requirements, but you will have to agree to bylaws and apply either over the phone, in person, or by mail.

Career path

In order to become an actuary, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, or a related field. You need to have strong analytical and mathematical skills, be detail-oriented, and understand risks and cost benefits for every industry you’re working in. Experience is not always required, as most entry-level actuaries are offered on-the-job training. This is why internships are available and preferred by most employers. Certifications are also available for those who want to improve their education in the actuary field. However, if you want to secure a higher-paying job, gathering experience throughout school and obtaining a master’s degree will set you apart.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-2011

2020 Employment27,700
Projected Employment in 203034,500
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 24% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift6,800 increase

It is estimated that between now and 2030, actuary jobs will grow by 24%. Averaging about 2,400 jobs opening each year as people leave the workforce to retire or leave their jobs for other reasons, this is a great position to work toward.

Becoming an actuary is a great career option as there are a variety of industries that use them. Typical employers include insurance companies and financial risk management firms. Life as an actuary can lead you towards management or even executive positions as you gain experience and become more skilled. Actuaries are extremely important to employers as they help avoid and manage any financial risks.