5 Great Careers for an Actuary

5 In-Demand Actuary Jobs

  • Insurance
  • Consulting
  • Government
  • Academia
  • Finance

If you have a knack for calculating odds and probabilities, you may be interested in some of the top careers for actuaries. The actuarial professional is a highly sought-after career field that requires mathematical and analytical skill. As an actuary, your responsibility will be to model potential risk and profit for your employer or client.

1. Insurance

Actuaries are needed in the insurance industry to calculate the risk represented by insurance policies. The insurance industry is perhaps the most common place to find actuaries working in the private sector. Without actuaries’ extensive knowledge of statistics and mathematics, most insurance companies would go out of business very quickly. The profit in the insurance industry is made by charging customers premiums that are high enough to cover the risk assumed by the insurance company. Most of the time, the insurer won’t have to pay any claims, but in the rare event that a catastrophe happens, the payout will be more than offset by the premiums.

2. Consulting

A consulting practice is a good choice of career for actuaries who want the freedom to set their own hours and plan their own projects. As a consultant, you will work with businesses that need to manage risk using statistical models and probability theory. You will be able to help businesses plan their operations and determine whether their products or services will be profitable when all the risk has been accounted for. A consulting practice is essentially a freelance business, so consultants have to spend a significant amount of time building clientele. It’s a good career path for an experienced actuary who already has many contacts in the industry.

3. Government

The state, local, and federal government always have openings for actuaries. Governments have vast budgets and sweeping agendas that require extensive analysis to mitigate risk. One of the selling points of a government actuarial job is that it often doesn’t require advanced education. Whether you have a Ph.D. or an associate’s degree, a government office in your area may have a job opening for you. The more education you’ve obtained, the more responsibility and compensation you will receive from your employer. Governments typically hire year-round, but they may go through a hiring wave after an election when new people are elected to take over.

4. Academia

If you have a deep interest in mathematics and actuarial science, you can establish a career in academia as a lecturer, adjunct professor, or tenure-track professor. This field is less competitive than some others, by the standards of academia, because many people are weeded out by the difficulty of the subject. Among the people who do manage to stick with actuarial science and graduate from a Ph.D. program, the competition for academic positions can be lively. Many positions will be available at four-year and two-year institutions as well as online colleges.

5. Finance

The finance industry needs actuaries to help brokerage firms and investment banks determine the most effective ways to invest their money with the least amount of risk. An actuarial position at a financial firm is similar to a position at an insurance company or government office. The work required is the mathematical modeling of risk probabilities to ensure the financial viability of the organization. Financial firms have a great need for actuaries, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22 percent growth overall of actuarial positions over the next 10 years.

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Probability theory is one of the most powerful tools in the field of mathematics, and professional statisticians and actuaries are needed to guide organizations toward their goals. These five great careers for an actuary are some of the highest-paid and most interesting jobs in this demanding field.