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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy6_S6EzOHw.
Quick Facts: Actuaries
2021 Median Pay $105,900 per year
$50.91 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2021 28,300
Job Outlook, 2021-31 21% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 5,900

What Actuaries Do

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the economic costs of risk and uncertainty.

Work Environment

Most actuaries work for insurance companies. Although most work full time in an office setting, some actuaries who work as consultants travel to meet with clients.

How to Become an Actuary

Actuaries typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation and must pass a series of exams to become certified. They must have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business.

Pay

The median annual wage for actuaries was $105,900 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 21 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 2,400 openings for actuaries are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for actuaries.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of actuaries with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about actuaries by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Actuaries Do About this section

Actuaries
Actuaries produce charts, tables, and reports to explain their calculations.

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.

Duties

Actuaries typically do the following:

  • Compile and analyze statistical data and other information
  • Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster
  • Design and test insurance policies, investments, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability
  • Calculate cash reserves needed, based on existing policies and liabilities, in case of payout or claims
  • Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and proposals
  • Explain their findings and proposals to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients

Actuaries use database software to compile information. They use statistical and modeling software to forecast the probability of an event occurring, the potential costs of the event if it does occur, and whether the insurance company has enough money to pay future claims.

Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and workers from other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance. For example, some actuaries work with accountants and financial analysts to set the price for security offerings or with market research analysts to forecast demand for new products.

Most actuaries work for insurance companies, where they help design policies and determine the premiums that should be charged for each policy. They must ensure that the premiums are profitable yet competitive with other insurance companies.

Some actuaries work as consultants and provide advice to clients on a contract basis. Many consulting actuaries audit the work of internal actuaries at insurance companies or handle actuarial duties for insurance companies that are not large enough to keep their own actuaries on staff.

Actuaries in the insurance industry typically specialize in one field of insurance, such as the following:

Health insurance actuaries help develop long-term care and health insurance policies by predicting expected costs of providing care under the terms of an insurance contract. Their predictions are based on numerous factors, including family history, geographic location, and occupation.

Life insurance actuaries help develop annuity and life insurance policies for individuals and groups by creating estimates of how long someone will live. These estimates are based on risk factors, such as age and tobacco use.

Property and casualty insurance actuaries help develop policies that insure policyholders against property loss and liability resulting from accidents, natural disasters, fires, and other events. For example, they calculate the expected number of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies with the insured person’s age, driving history, type of car, and other factors.

Some actuaries apply their expertise to financial matters outside of the insurance industry. For example, they develop investment strategies that manage risks and maximize returns for companies or individuals. Actuaries outside of the insurance industry include the following:

Enterprise risk management actuaries identify risks, including economic, financial, and geopolitical risks that may affect a company’s short-term or long-term objectives. They help top executives determine how much risk the business is willing to take, and they develop strategies to mitigate the financial impact of those risks.

Pension and retirement benefits actuaries design, test, and evaluate company pension plans to determine if funds available in the future will be enough to ensure payment of benefits. They must report the results of their evaluations to the federal government. Pension actuaries also help businesses develop other types of retirement benefits, such as 401(k)s and healthcare plans for retirees. In addition, they provide retirement planning advice to individuals.

Public sector actuaries have different duties, based on the level of government in which they work. In the federal government, actuaries may evaluate proposed changes to Social Security or Medicare or conduct economic and demographic studies to project benefit obligations. At the state level, actuaries may examine and regulate the rates charged by insurance companies.

Work Environment About this section

Actuaries
Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance.

Actuaries held about 28,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of actuaries were as follows:

Finance and insurance 74%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 13
Management of companies and enterprises 4
Self-employed workers 4
Government 3

Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance.

Although actuaries usually work in an office setting, those who work for consulting firms may need to travel to meet with clients.

Work Schedules

Most actuaries work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Actuary About this section

Actuaries
Actuaries need a bachelor’s degree and must pass a series of exams to become certified professionals.

To enter the occupation, actuaries typically need a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field. Students must complete coursework in subjects such as economics, applied statistics, and corporate finance and must pass a series of exams to become certified.

Education

Actuaries need a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business. Typically, actuaries have an undergraduate degree in mathematics, business, actuarial science, or some other analytical field.

To become certified, students must complete coursework in subjects such as economics, statistics, and corporate finance. Coursework in computer science, especially programming languages, and the ability to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools also is important.

Because the different types of practice areas include health, life, pension, and casualty, internships may be helpful for students deciding on which actuarial track to pursue.

Licenses, Certification, and Registrations

Two professional organizations—the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA)—offer two levels of certification: associate and fellow.

The CAS certifies actuaries who work in the property and casualty field, which includes automobile, homeowners, commercial, and workers’ compensation insurance.

The SOA certifies actuaries who work in life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance.

Both credentials require candidates to complete coursework in economics, finance, and mathematical statistics while in college. Candidates also must pass a series of exams and take seminars on professionalism.

Many employers expect prospective hires to have passed at least one or two of these certification exams before graduation.

It may take up to 7 years for an actuary to earn the associate-level certification because of the lengthy preparation required. After becoming associates, actuaries typically take several more years to earn fellowship status. Both the CAS and the SOA have a continuing education requirement.

The SOA offers fellowship certification in five separate tracks: life and annuities, group and health benefits, retirement benefits, quantitative finance and investments, and corporate finance/enterprise risk management. Unlike the SOA, the CAS does not offer specialized study tracks for fellowship certification.

Pension actuaries typically must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries. Licensed pension actuaries, known as enrolled actuaries, must meet certain experience requirements and pass exams administered through the SOA.

Training

Entry-level actuaries typically start out as trainees. They are usually on teams with experienced actuaries who serve as mentors. Trainees begin work on basic tasks, such as compiling data, and take on more complex duties, such as conducting research and writing reports, as they gain experience. Trainees also may work in other departments, such as marketing, underwriting, and product development, to learn how actuaries fit into all aspects of a company.

Most employers support their actuaries throughout the certification process. For example, employers may pay the cost of exams and study materials or provide paid time to study. Employees may receive raises or bonuses for each exam that they pass.

Advancement

Advancement usually depends on job performance and the number of actuarial exams passed. For example, actuaries who achieve fellowship status often supervise the work of other actuaries and provide input to senior management. Actuaries with a broad knowledge of risk management and how it applies to business may advance to become top executives, such as chief risk officers or chief financial officers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Actuaries identify patterns and trends in complex sets of data to determine the factors that affect certain types of events.

Communication skills. Actuaries must be able to explain complex technical matters to those without an actuarial background. They also must describe their work and recommendations clearly in written reports and memos.

Computer skills. Actuaries must know programming languages and be able to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools.

Interpersonal skills. Actuaries serve as leaders and members of teams, so they must be able to listen to and collaborate with others.

Math skills. Actuaries quantify risk by using the principles of calculus, statistics, and probability.

Problem-solving skills. Actuaries identify risks and develop ways for businesses to manage those risks.

Pay About this section

Actuaries

Median annual wages, May 2021

Actuaries

$105,900

Mathematical science occupations

$98,680

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for actuaries was $105,900 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $63,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $206,820.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for actuaries in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $110,590
Finance and insurance 110,000
Professional, scientific, and technical services 101,600
Management of companies and enterprises 101,510

Most actuaries work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Actuaries

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Mathematical science occupations

29%

Actuaries

21%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of actuaries is projected to grow 21 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 2,400 openings for actuaries are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks.

More actuaries also will be needed to help companies manage their own risk, a practice known as enterprise risk management. These actuaries help companies adjust their business or investment strategies across all areas of operation.

Insurance companies will need actuaries to analyze the large amount of information, such as medical or property data, collected from consumers. These data will allow insurance companies to develop new products, set competitive prices, predict consumer behavior, and improve projections of future risks and costs.

In addition, health insurance companies will require actuaries to help evaluate the effects of changing healthcare regulations and guidelines, expand into new insurance markets, and offer products to new customers.

Employment projections data for actuaries, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Actuaries

15-2011 28,300 34,200 21 5,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of actuaries.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Accountants and auditors Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records.

Bachelor's degree $77,250
Budget analysts Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help public and private organizations plan their finances.

Bachelor's degree $79,940
Cost estimators Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to assess the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $65,170
Economists Economists

Economists collect and analyze data, research trends, and evaluate economic issues for resources, goods, and services.

Master's degree $105,630
Financial analysts Financial Analysts

Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to attain profit.

Bachelor's degree $95,570
Insurance underwriters Insurance Underwriters

Insurance underwriters evaluate insurance applications and decide whether to provide insurance, and under what terms.

Bachelor's degree $76,390
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $96,280
Personal financial advisors Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their money and plan for their financial future.

Bachelor's degree $94,170
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $79,640

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about actuaries, visit

American Academy of Actuaries

For more information about actuaries in property and casualty insurance, visit

Casualty Actuarial Society

For more information about actuaries in life and health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance/enterprise risk management, visit

Society of Actuaries

For more information about how to become an actuary, visit

Be an Actuary

For more information about pension actuaries and their licensing requirements, visit

American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries

U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries

O*NET

Actuaries

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Actuaries,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm (visited September 08, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, September 8, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.