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|
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.
Most actuaries work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.
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.
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.
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 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.
Actuaries typically have an interest in the Thinking, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Thinking or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an actuary, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Actuaries should also possess the following specific qualities:
Analytical skills. Actuaries use analytical skills to identify patterns and trends in complex sets of data to determine the factors that have an effect on certain types of events.
Communication skills. Actuaries must be able to explain complex technical matters to those without an actuarial background. They must also communicate clearly through the reports and memos that describe their work and recommendations.
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 other people’s opinions and suggestions before reaching a conclusion.
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.
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:
|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.
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.
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.
For more information about actuaries, visit
For more information about actuaries in property and casualty insurance, visit
For more information about actuaries in life and health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance/enterprise risk management, visit
For more information about how to become an actuary, visit
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