Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

What is this job like?

Actuaries deal with risk. They decide how likely things such as death, sickness, injury, disability, and loss of property are to occur, as well as the costs of these things.

Actuaries also decide how much money it will take in order to get a certain amount of retirement income. They help design insurance policies and pension plans and try to make sure that they are sound. Actuaries may need to explain their findings to company executives, government officials, and the public. They may also testify in court as an expert.

Most actuaries work for insurance companies. Some work in life and health insurance. Others work in property and casualty insurance. Actuaries make tables that show how likely it is that a claim will be made by a customer. They use these tables to decide how much the company will have to pay in claims. They make sure that the company charges enough to pay these claims. This amount must be enough for the company to make a profit. It must also be in line with what other insurance companies are charging.

Actuaries work in offices. They often work at least 40 hours a week. Some actuaries may travel to meet with clients.

How do you get ready?

Actuaries need to know a lot about math and general business. Those just starting in the field often have a college degree in math, actuarial science, or statistics. Some have a degree in economics, finance, or accounting.

There are about 100 colleges and universities that have an actuarial science program. Most colleges have degree programs in math, statistics, economics, or finance. Some companies hire people who have degrees in other areas. However, these people must be good at math and able to pass the actuarial exams. The exams are held two times a year and it is good to pass all of the exams as soon as possible. More companies are hiring people who have some training in liberal arts and business. It is also important to be able to communicate well. Computer skills are becoming more important too.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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