What is an Actuary, and how can you become one?

Actuary. You’ve probably heard the word before, and maybe you even associate the word with an old man in a business suit. I know I did. It sounds like something that would be a boring job, and perhaps for you it is. But maybe not.

Turn raw financial data in a secure job as an actuary, photo by Keith Williamson

Turn raw financial data in a secure job as an actuary, photo by Keith Williamson

You know what’s exciting about being an actuary? Job security. It has consistently been ranked highly in the last decade in terms of growing job markets, and being a “recession-proof” job. It’s a job that comes with a good salary and benefits. And its something you can study to become with a distance learning program.

But what does an actuary actually do?

In a nutshell, an actuary is a business specialist who deals with how finances are affected by risk and change. They use math and financial analysis of systems and economic processes to minimize uncertainty, and minimize the impact of events on the bottom line of a business, corporation, or large fund of money. Actuaries are employed by insurance companies, banks, investment firms, and corporations.

In other words, an actuary uses past and current trends, in both society and the economy, to protect their finances. It’s not a job for everyone, admittedly. But for those students with the interest in analytical thinking, asset and liability management, risk assessment, and mathematics, becoming an actuary might be the perfect career path.

General insurance actuaries , deal mostly with risks to property, or bodily harm, and can choose to focus in one of many ares including, but not limited to, workers compensation, malpractice, auto insurance, commercial property, environmental, products, and or any type of liability insurance.

Life and health actuaries constitute the other major branch of the field. Primarily life insurance and health insurance based, these actuaries crunch the numbers and factor the financial risk in health care and insurance. There are many other types of actuary work in this field as well, including pensions, annuities, social welfare, property, casualty, asset management, disability, and more.

If you have a degree in mathematics, finance, statistics, or business, then you should take a closer look at getting a degree as an actuary. Here are a pair of schools that offer actuary programs.

Illinois State University – The Department of Mathematics at ISU offers a degree in actuarial science on both the bachelors and masters level.

Central Michigan University – Also offering both a bachelors and a masters level degree as an actuary, Central Michigan University also helps prepare the student for the exam given by the Society of Actuaries. It entrails just over sixty hours worth of classes, focusing on math, computer science, economics, accounting, finance, business law, and statistics.

There are also some good programs from overseas, but as they are accredited by the United Kingdom Actuarial Profession, I’m not sure that would transfer over to the US or not.  But for more info check out Heriot Watt University in Scotland, or University of Leicester in the UK.

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One comment on “What is an Actuary, and how can you become one?
  1. Braden says:

    This field of work is very rewarding for those who succeed. It has the best balance of work and salary. If you like Math and Business subjects, then consider being an actuary.

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