Most jobs in this field are full time positions. Actuaries usually work in offices. Those who work for consulting firms spend time traveling to meet with clients.
The SOA certifies actuaries who work in the areas of health and life insurance, finance, retirement benefits and investments while the CAS certifies those who are employed in the property and casualty insurance field. The first four tests in the series of exams are common to both organizations although they go by different titles. Together they are known as preliminary exams. The SOA requires passing two additional exams while CAS candidates must pass three more tests. It can take between six and ten years to pass all the exams but one can work as an actuarial assistant after passing only the first two (Fast Facts About Actuaries). Many begin taking exams while they are still in school. Upon fulfilling all the requirements one becomes an associate of either the SOA or CAS. After achieving associate status, once can go on to achieve fellow status by fulfilling requirements in a specialty area.
Those who aspire to this career must have a variety of skills in addition to what they learn in the classroom. Actuaries rely on strong analytical, math and computer skills in order to analyze data, quantify risk and perform other aspects of their jobs. In order to identify risks and help businesses manage them, they must be good problem solvers. Good interpersonal skills help them function as members or leaders of teams. Strong speaking skills and writing skills are also required.
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much an actuary currently earns in your city.
A Day in an Actuary's Life:
On a typical day an actuary's tasks might include:
- analyzing statistical information to determine risks of certain events occurring
- determining company policies to minimize costs of risks
- calculating insurance premium rates
- helping financial firms manage risks and maximize returns
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Actuaries, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm (visited February 27, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Actuaries, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/15-2011.00 (visited February 27, 2013).