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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.

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.

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. 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.

How much does this job pay?  

One half of all actuaries earned between $50,510 and $99,820. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $39,700. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $137,650. The average starting salary for graduates with a degree in actuarial science was $40,396 in 2003.

How many jobs are there?  

Actuaries held about 15,000 jobs in 2002. More than half worked for insurance companies. Others worked for pension funds and insurance agents and brokers. More actuaries are working for firms that offer a lot of different services. These include such things as management and public relations, or consulting services.

What about the future?  

Employment for actuaries is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all jobs through 2012. Examinations to become an actuary are very difficult; those who pass have a good chance for a job.

Are there other jobs like this?  

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where can you find more information?  

More information about actuariesand similar jobs can be found in the Careers Database.

Questions or Comments?
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