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Career Overview

Actuaries are in the business of risk assessment.  Sixty percent of them work in the insurance industry.  They evaluate the risk of potential harmful occurrences, providing the groundwork for policies that minimize the impact of such events on companies and clients.  Specifically, actuaries accumulate information that allows them to estimate the probability and likely cost of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or loss of property.  

Outside the insurance industry, actuaries assess certain types of financial situations such as the way in which a company should invest resources to maximize return on investments in light of potential risk.


Most actuaries have at least a bachelors degree, usually in business administration or finance.  They must have a strong background in mathematics, but many companies are also looking for a well-rounded individual and may accept applicants with a liberal arts degree and math experience.  Some colleges now offer majors in actuarial science.

Actuaries must be certified by one of two national organizations.  Many young actuaries find a job and work in the field while studying for the exam.  Actuaries for pension plans must have a special form of certification required by the Federal Government.

Current Employment

There were about 18,000 actuaries working in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Job Outlook

The job opportunities for actuaries are expected to grow by 24% over the decade between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the overall growth rate for all job classifications.  Because the exams for accreditation are so stringent, the competition should not be overwhelming.

Salary Range

Lowest 10% $23.44 $48,740

Median Salary $41.20 $85,690

Highest 25% $57.60 $119,820

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