What is an Actuary?

An actuary is a highly respected person within an organization. He is the problem-solver and the number one strategic thinker. He has a deep understanding of the organization’s system and knows how to identify and reduce potential risks. This post will shed more light on the specific roles of actuaries, their work environment, salary, job outlook and how to become one.

Specific Roles of Actuaries

There is a wide range of duties actuaries must perform within an organization. Their first specific duty is to review documents from all departments within the company. These documents could relate to policies, contracts, procedural guidelines, pension plans and statistical information. Their main objective here is to identify potential areas where disasters are likely to occur. Once they review these documents, the actuaries must come up with a summary of their findings and recommend corrective measures in areas that have issues.

Another important duty of actuaries is to establish company policy and explain such policies to employees and other people who will benefit from them. They also work to ensure those policies are implemented by everyone. In some cases, actuaries may be asked to testify as witnesses in courts or before agencies.

How to Become an Actuary

Those who want to become actuaries must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. They need to pursue programs that concentrate on mathematics, statistics, economics, finance or business. Some universities and colleges offer special actuarial science degree programs, though these are not common. One can also major in courses other than actuarial sciences, as long as they nurture skills in calculus, probability, computer science and accounting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also recommends completing an internship program in the actuarial field.

Apart from education, aspiring actuaries must obtain certification from a recognized professional body. Most employers require certification from either the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). These bodies offer both fellowship certification and associate certification. A fellowship certification takes two to three years to complete and tests knowledge of strategic decision making, accounting, insurance and economics. The associate certification takes four to six years and requires an understanding of financial mathematics, probability, corporate finance and actuarial contingencies evaluation. To maintain these certifications, one must enroll in continuing learning programs, attend seminars and complete online courses provided by the certifying bodies.

Essential Skills for Actuaries

Actuaries bring with them a special set of skills. These include specialized math knowledge, keen analytical and project management skills, great business acumen and solid communication skills. They also possess strong computer skills and are self-motivated, creative, independent and ambitious.

Work Environment for Actuaries

Actuaries spend most of their time in the office. Since they work with computers and data all the time, their job does not have much flexibility. However, those who work for consulting firms may end up traveling to different places to meet clients.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, actuaries earn an average salary of $100,610 per year. The employment rate is projected to increase by 18 percent. This is much faster than the national average rate.

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Choosing to enter into the actuarial field is a rewarding decision you won’t live to regret. All you have to do is understand what it takes to become an actuary as well as the specific roles you will play once you get a job.