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The 10 Best Jobs of 2012: 2 - Actuary

Actuary

Interprets statistics to determine probabilities of accidents, sickness, and death, and loss of property from theft and natural disasters.

  • Overall Score: 226.00
  • Income: $88,202.00

  • Work Environment:
    44.860
  • Stress:
    16.020
  • Hiring Outlook:
    27.72

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actuaries are awesome

they may have to read alot and do gruelling maths problems but they are awesome but ofcourse iam biased cause my wife is one...and im a construction manager and we went to campus together

Actuary sounds very

Actuary sounds very interesting to me, I am a big Math fan and like what's challenging me.

I think I would go crazy

When you are deciding on a career, make sure you like what you do. Actuaries deal with a lot of numbers.. If you like that, then go for it, but never go for something just for the money. You'll have a crappy life that way.

Actuaries

I amnot an actuary, but I went to school and roomed with successful actuaries at Maryville University.  Even though they have to study a lot, they have lives.  Many of the ones I know are down to Earth, thoughtful people.  Actually, my last roommate was the funniest person I have ever met. Also, I knew a couple of actuaries that passed all their exams by age 25.  It's true, they are able to write their own ticket to life and do not have to take any more exams.  Pay and benefits are amazing!  Maybe better than being a doctor.  Pay may be similar, but doctors are often independent, have to manage their own benefits, and pay sky high liability insurance set by actuaries:)

Students

I am a math major right now, but i would like to be an actuary and graduate with an actuary degree. any advice?

actuary

Pass at least one exam, and pass another one, and just keep doing thatLearn programmingOnce you have the above two, you should have a higher chance of landing a summer interndefinately do summer intern and also figure out the type of actuary you want to be (traditional vs consultant, life/health/casualty...etc.)

Becoming an Actuary

I suggest you talk to somebody at the Society of Actuaries (soa.org). There are a limited colleges that have degrees in Actuarial science. You dont need a degree in actuartial science to get a job as an actuary. What you do need to do is to have passed actuarial exams wihich are administered by the Society of Actuaries. You can take the exams at any time. I know actuaries that passed actuarial exams while in high school. The more exams you pass the more you will make and the more opportunities you will have. Try to pass at least 2 exams while you are in college. 

Seriously, in high school??!

Seriously, in high school??! Were these the math-genius-no-one-could-seem-to-touch and spoke-the-same-cryptic-numerical-lanuage-as-the-math-teacher types? I'm thinking of becoming an actuary, but I don't know if I'd be able to. I mean I've been in pre-ap/ap math since jr high and I'm in AP Calulus BC this year and I seem to understand okay. Math has always been my favorite subject, and though I complain a lot (secretly, I know I love it). I can't imagine not being in school (nor not doing something academically challenging) after college.

Ib vs actuary

I want to be an actuary but am also considering ib. Which is better

Clarification...

Hello All!Just started the second half of my Bachelor's degree in Applied Mathematics, crossing my fingers that I make it to an actuary someday!  After I graduate with a degree, is that when I would potentially start my career?  Or would I need to pass the exams and be certified first in order to get a job?  I'm sure there's not a clear cut path, but any info as appreciated.  :)Have a lovely day!

You need to have internships

You need to have internships and passed at least one if not two exams by the time you graduate to get an entry level positon. Entry into the actuarial profession is a lot more difficult than it was in recent years and you have to prepare early to land this comfortable job roll.   

Actuaries are the BOMB!

The best gig ever! 

Im still in college and i

Im still in college and i just passed my second exam.  Dont get me wrong they are difficult but definitly passable.  Excited to see what this career has to offer me ! Graduating in the Spring..

Rent

$88000 Salary - $24000 rent = Good pay nowadays.

Not Boring.

My husand is an Actuary. He makes 4 times the amount they listed at the top. I make more than $88,000 too! It is definitely NOT boring to him, otherwise he wouldn't be an actuary. He gets to travel several times a year (in and out of the country). The exams they have to take are some of the most difficult. By golly he passed them!

^really?

Really your husband makes 350k, what sector of actuarial science? what company does he work for may i ask

He is most likely a

He is most likely a consulting actuary as they do tend to make above average and their job usually consists of travel.

female dominated field?

My son is considering Actuarial Studies as his undergraduate degree. Is it true that this is a female dominated field?

Nope

Actuaries were mostly men at one point in time. A only a couple of years ago at my university, there were only a couple of girls entering the Actuarial Science program out of twenty-five. My graduating class, the next, and in-coming classes are about balanced in gender. And good for your son, it's difficult finding a school and when it comes to getting a job sometimes it all funnels down to what school you attend I'm in Missouri at Maryville University. It's a private school but excellent program. The program's goal is to put out graduates with two passed exams and two internships. And the school is excellent at helping students establish networks with companies.

not really

i  know   actuary   that   are  men  ,  but   women   do   dominate   at  times .   But   consider   more  women   go  to   college   and  graduate college.   But   actuary  isnt   a   woman   or   man field  ,  (  unlike nursing  ) 

British Actuarial Student

I should be a poster girl for all the incorrect stereotypes of Actuaries. Visually, I do not look like a boring bookworm like many would expect, and would say that many of the actuaries in my workplace do not either (although there are a few perhaps that do). I am outgoing, sporty and very sociable.
Secondly,I LOVE my job! Having previously worked in one of the "Big Four" financial firms in a non-actuarial role, I made the best decision of my life to join the actuarial student scheme at a different firm. I work 7 hours a day, 5 days a week (lower than the average 37.5 hour working week in the UK), my pay is already higher than many of my non-actuarial friends despite having only been in the role for a year. At 24 I own my very own two bed apartment. The people I work with are lovely and very supportive and I think I have landed my dream post-graduate role.
Studying is very difficult, I am still on the earlier exams and although the content of these isn't overally difficult (I studied mathematics in university), the volume of content and juggling this with a fulltime job is very tricky (it makes university look like a ball). I sat professional exams in my previous career and would say these are far harder.

At times the role can be monotonous, as with many other jobs sometimes admin or repetative tasks have to be done, but it is a constantly changing environment and I enjoy it. The salary quoted above is very low, in the UK at least it would be the starting salary for a newly qualified Actuary.

Not sure how the UK role compares to that in the US and I know we sit different qualifications, but I imagine it's pretty similar. Would highly recommend to graduates, although if you want to work for a firm that cares about you perhaps avoid big consultancies!

Retired

I am a retired woman after working 30 years in the financial services industry in various jobs requiring math.My first job out of college as a finance graduate was in the actuarial department of a large insurance company. I loved the job and the people I worked with. All were smar, no ego issues and very supportive. Actuaries are not not gooney as a lot of people believe. I found most had a great sense of humor and openness. While there I was encouraged to try new ideas and learn new things where I received nothing but support. In the end, I was promoted to managing the actuarial rating systems with a large staff. I found all the men and women in management to be totally open and to my amazment showed no insecurities or ego sensitivities.There was no corporate crap, we were a group who shared every success. For what it's worth, I moved on and up to another area and then again into other areas. Now, looking back over my career, for what it is worth, I wish I had stayed in the actuarial area. In working in jobs after actuarial, I foundas a whole most people couldn't compare to the actuaries when it came to managing, selflessness and lack egos. I was happy and felt good about everything I accomplised while working with actuaries, male and female. If I can live my life over it would be as an actuary!

Which company do you work

Which company do you work for?

Interesting, not exciting

Being an actuary is interesting. It is not exciting. There's a lot of periodic reporting and long-term projects.

You need to have thick skin. For the most part the numbers that you are working with will have to do with one or more of the following: people dying (including children), getting sick, experiencing a disabling injury/illness, being the victims of theft, losing their homes due to fire/hurricane/flood, etc.

Many (but certainly not all) actuaries work in the insurance industry. As soon as you enter that industry you will be working for 'the big bad insurance company' no matter how ethical your employer is. Your friends and family will complain to you about any and every insurance situation they encounter. You will have the pleasure of dealing with people who appear to sincerely believe that members of the insurance industry have the ability to grow money on trees and get a sick and twisted pleasure out of keeping that secret from the rest of society, and denying claims for no good reason. People hate insurance companies more than they hate lawyers!!!

Do not underestimate the difficulty of exams. People who majored in math routinely fail the first exam multiple times. If you are not a good test taker you are going to struggle mightily with the actuarial exams. The earlier exams are multiple choice (do not make the mistake of thinking that 'multiple choice' = 'easy') and more mathematical/financial in nature. The later exams are very different: written answer exams dealing with lots of regulations and syllabi that sometimes cover as much as 2,800 pages of reading material - with less than 6 months to prepare. That said, people pass exams all the time - more and more every year in fact.

The work can be rewarding. You are helping to develop/maintain a product that will help people when they need help the most - at the worst moment(s) of their lives. You will see and analyze a lot of interesting statistics and have the opportunity to meet people from all over the company (sales, legal, IT, benefits/claims, accounting, audit) and explain difficult mathematical concepts to both technical and non-technical audiences. (This is an increasingly important aspect of the job.)

It is a business job that uses math, not a math job in the business world. If you are looking for a challenge similar to the one that you encountered in a graduate-level mathematics or statistics program, you may be disappointed in actuarial work which has a large qualitative aspect to it.

And the financial benefits are there as well. Nearly all fellows (either FSA or FCAS) have a 6-figure salary and they never have to take exams again. You'll probably work longer hours in consulting but you'll probably make more money there too. The career is fairly stable. Though actuaries are not immune to layoffs, they happen far less frequently than in many other fields.

Hiring statisticians

I'm seeing companies now hiring MS/PhD statisticians instead of actuaries saying the actuarial education is too boxed. They need more out-of-the-box thinker. This is a big plus as having a stat degree is likely easier than going through the actuarial exams and also opens up much more opportunities than just actuary. Lots of applied statisticians work in areas such as clinical trials, genomics, marketing, finance, social network, engineering, etc.. And they are paid really well - there are public salary survey data available. With the recent trend on Big Data,the opportunities are tremendous for them. They will need to be very open-minded, able to pick up other related fields quickly (economics, business, etc.), and good at business communications and team work. And yes, I enjoy being one of them very much.

Student vs. Credentialed

I think there needs to be a distinction made. If we are including Actuary Student, no way is that a top 10 job. Being a student sucks... pay is good (not great), working full time, plus devoting very long hours to studying only to still fail 50% of the time. Problem is, you have to to this before you get credentialed...

Once you finish exams either at the Associate (ASA) or Fellow (FSA) level, this is easily a top 10 job. Hours are fairly reasonable relative to other professional finance jobs. Pay is top notch, much higher than $88k indicated. Work is challenging and sometime deadline driven... though at the end of the day, no one dies if you miss it. All in all a good balance of challenge vs reward.

wtf

wtf

I'm an actuary...

And, yes, the exams are tough, but doable. You will spend a good chunk of your first 3-5 years (or more) studying. Most firms will give you some time off for this, but in order to pass you'll need to put lots of your own time in too and that means working a full day and then studying for a least a few hours at night. But, it's a career and that's what it takes. And, you make very good money. The $88,000 that is noted here is an early to mid-career number. Most actuaries I know are making more. And, actuaries don't just work in insurance companies. There are lots of types of actuaries (pension actuaries, employee benefits, health and welfare actuaries, etc.) so job opportunities go far beyond the insurance industry. I doubt that you'll have a lot of trouble getting a job as an actuary. Job security is a big plus.

In terms of the math skills needed, the calculations are detailed (a lot of statistical analyisis), but not overly complicated. In my past life, I was also a physicist and the math used there far exceeds the math used by actuaries. So, a strong undergraduate math degree will be more than enough to manage actuarial math.

But, being an actuary can be incredibly stressful - lots of deadline pressure and the calculations, while again not overly difficult, are very detailed and it's easy to make a mistake. And the work can be tedious.

Hope that helps...

I'm an actuary..

And, yes, the exams are tough, but doable. You will spend a good chunk of your first 3-5 years (or more) studying. Most firms will give you some time off for this, but in order to pass you'll need to put lots of your own time in too and that means working a full day and then studying for a least a few hours at night. But, it's a career and that's what it takes. And, you make very good money. The $88,000 that is noted here is an early to mid-career number. Most actuaries I know are making more. And, actuaries don't just work in insurance companies. There are lots of types of actuaries (pension actuaries, employee benefits, health and welfare actuaries, etc.) so job opportunities go far beyond the insurance industry. I doubt that you'll have a lot of trouble getting a job as an actuary. Job security is a big plus.

In terms of the math skills needed, the calculations are detailed (a lot of statistical analyisis), but not overly complicated. In my past life, I was also a physicist and the math used there far exceeds the math used by actuaries. So, a strong undergraduate math degree will be more than enough to manage actuarial math.

But, being an actuary can be incredibly stressful - lots of deadline pressure and the calculations, while again not overly difficult, are very detailed and it's easy to make a mistake. And the work can be tedious.

Hope that helps...

is that true?

that job seems boring, is it?

Actuary joke

What does an actuary use for a contraceptive? His personality.

Actuary Job

Not for the faint at heart. The math is extremely complicated even for graduate students. The opportunities seem very limited unless you live in one of the top metropolitan areas. You'll be paying 2000/month in rent for a 500 sq ft studio apartment.

While I do work in a major

While I do work in a major city, Philadelphia, I don't have to pay $2k for a 500 ft. apt.  More like 1300 for a 1000 sq. ft apt. which I share with my gf.  Just sayin' don't hate on living/ working in a major city.

The exams are very tough,

The exams are very tough, particularly outside the United States. There are loads of firms in both rural and urban areas that require actuarial expertise. There's a huge variation in pay between locations and levels of experience. In the cities you'll earn a lot more than $88k a year once you're qualified, have a bit of experience under your belt and you're good at what you do. It's a great profession!

Negative

I'm a math graduate student and the math needed to pass the exams is not complicated at all compared to graduate level math.

That's very true. Abstract

That's very true. Abstract algebra, topology, etc. are definitely more challenging as far as the complexity of the math goes, but that does not imply that these exams are not challenging. My final exam for Abstract Algebra back during my last semester of school was (I'm guesstimating) about 1/3 as difficult as the very first exam of the bunch required for a career as an actuary. If someone really wanted to, they could construct an arithmetic exam, then administer it to several mathematicians, s.t. only a small subset of the candidates would pass; all while maintaining complete legitimacy of the logic implied throughout the exam's questions. Anyone who then failed the exam would have no argument to justify why they failed. They would just have to accept that they didn't understand arithmetic well enough.

Not necessarily true.

Not necessarily true. Hartford, CT is the insurance capital of the world. Lots of great affordable towns within a 15-20 minute commute (even including traffic). Bloomfield and West Hartford are both great places for young professionals with nice 1 or 2 bedroom apartments available for 1000-1300. Some of the suburbs a few more minutes out are more expensive places to live but would be great places to raise a family (high quality of education, etc).

Studying your life away...

You're studying for what seems like the rest of your 20s. In this field, you either have really good test takers, but mediocre workers, or poor test takers and excellent, sharp employees. Having the best of both is a rarity.

Studying your life away...

Try harder the next time you attempt an examination. Your scenario happens but rarity I do not think so.

Actuarial Exams

Actuaries are highly respected because of their level of education and their mathematical abilities, but to get to the top of their field, they must pass a series of exams that has been called "the most difficult exam sequence ever contrived."

Stress Level

Stress level seems a bit high to be ranked in the top 10!

Stress level is high as a

Stress level is high as a student before passing all the tests. If you get all those done before you're 30, you can write your own ticket the rest of your life. If you get those done before you're 30, you didn't do anything but study in your 20's however. The career is a great balance of math, devotion, and personality (yes they're not all bores)

Number Crunchers Have it Easy But...

These number crunchers play an important role in the insurance industry but sounds a little boring to me.

Boring is what you make of it

I've been a credentialed actuary for 25 years. I can also tell you I never have two days that are the same. I rarely crunch numbers any more, participate in sales calls, drive marketing and over all strategy, and have acted as an expert witness. I also make a heck of a lot more that $88k. Opportunities are what you make of them and an actuarial career path has many opportunities that go far beyond the number crunching.

Number Crunchers

Actuaries must pass a series of exams that is considered to be one of the most difficult undertakings in the entire world of business and commerce...they must become expert in all aspects of finance, probability, economics, etc.

Actuaries

So im not an actuary but i love math and am excited about any challenge is this a good option.

You mean...Actuaries are

You mean...Actuaries are TOTALLY BOSS!!!!

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