How to become an Actuary
Actuary Job Duties
Skills and Qualities needed to become an Actuary
Actuary Salaries
Influential Professionals in this field
Leading Actuarial Organizations
Top Cities for Actuarial Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Actuary.

Actuaries must have a foundation and experience in the fields of mathematics, business, and statistics, usually accompanied by a bachelor's degree. Although not many colleges and universities in the United States offer degrees in actuarial science, degrees can be obtained in related fields. If the bachelor's degree is earned in an unrelated field, the candidate should make sure to take courses in the fields of applied statistics, math, economics, corporate finance, and business.

When someone wants to become an actuary, they are often hired at an entry level position in a business, and spend some time in various roles, such as financial reporting, underwriting, product development, and marketing, so that they are able to better understand the work performed by actuaries and others in the insurance business.

After spending some time at the entry level of their field, a beginning actuary must get certified or licensed by one of two professional societies: the Casualty Actuarial Society (COS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). These societies certify actuaries in various fields, through a series of examinations. The examinations can be taken during the college career for those who have already decided upon an actuary career and want an early start.

What does an Actuary do?

Often working in the insurance field, actuaries estimate the risk of natural disasters, deaths, accidents, and other events and determine how to minimize the financial impact of such risks on business clients. Actuaries work closely with the insurance industry in order to determine what the premiums and policies should be for specific situations. They gather and study data to help them estimate how probable it is that a death, disability, disaster, injury, or other event is to occur, and how much it will cost if it does.

An actuary will often have a specialty, such as property and casualty insurance or life and health insurance. They use tables and modeling techniques to predict the likelihood of a specific event which would lead to an insurance claim. By estimating the amount of claims, an actuary can actually estimate the amount of money an insurance company can expect to pay. The insurance companies use this information to create premiums that they feel are fair and competitive, but that will still bring them a profit.

Other fields and industries may also employ actuaries, to help with investments, stock offering prices, pension plans, and any other task that involves probability and risk. Many companies create their policies using the advice of actuaries. Consulting actuaries often work as freelancers, providing information to clients on a contract basis.

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Actuary?

Actuaries need to be computer literate, as most actuarial duties are now performed on computers. Basic knowledge of spreadsheets and databases is essential, and competence with statistical software is also helpful. The ability to use some computer programming knowledge can make an actuary more employable. Actuaries should be very comfortable with various types of mathematic processes.

Actuaries must have an excellent working knowledge of legislation, technology, trends, and other development that may affect their field. Communication, both verbal and written, is necessary for the duties of an actuary, and actuaries with good interpersonal skills are likely to be much more effective than others.

How much do Actuaries make?

The salaries for actuaries are highly dependent on which examinations the actuary has passed, how much experience he or she has, and how much computer knowledge he or she possesses. The median yearly salary for actuaries in May 2006 was $82,800. The middle fifty percent of all actuaries in the United States earned between $58,710 and $114,570; quite a wide range for one field. During the following year of 2007, graduates holding a degree in actuarial science began with an average yearly salary of $53,754.
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Who are some influential Actuaries?

Isaac Rubinow, born in 1875, was an actuary and theorist on social insurance. He wrote a book entitled Social Insurance and helped to form the Casualty Actuarial and Statistical Society of America, a leading professional organization of actuaries which is now known as the Casualty Actuarial Society. Rubinow also served as the Society's first president.

The first person to actually refer to insurance mathematicians as "actuaries" is thought to be Edward Rowe Mores, born in 1731. He led the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorship and decreed that the Society's chief official be referred to as an actuary.

Another highly influential actuary was Frank Mitchell Redington, born in 1906, the developer of the Redington Immunization Theory. This theory explains how someone can immunize a fixed income portfolio against interest rates which are changing, lowering the financial risk.

Who are some leading organizations in this field?

The two leading organizations in the actuarial field are the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (COS). These two organizations provide certification and licensing by a mixture of examinations and coursework. The SOA is the largest professional organization for actuaries in the world and has headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. This Society is mainly focused on actuaries who are involved in the pension, life, and health insurance fields. The CAS is more geared toward actuaries in the casualty and property insurance areas, and requires a series of examinations in order to gain membership, which is offered at two levels.

What are the top cities for Actuarial Jobs?

As with many other related fields, the cities which are the best for actuaries who are looking for jobs are generally the large cities. True to this trend, New York City is the top city by far for actuary jobs, with Chicago Illinois coming in a distant second. Boston Massachusetts is the third city in the list of cities which are good for actuaries, and Atlanta, Georgia comes in fourth. Consulting actuaries can often work mainly from a remote location, meeting with clients only as necessary, so their location can be slightly more flexible.

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