Actuary Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

An Actuary, or Actuarial Analyst, assesses potential risks of company decisions or situations using statistics, financial theories and mathematics. Their duties include estimating probabilities of the success of certain business decisions, projecting costs of potential natural disasters, deaths or sicknesses of company employees and designing insurance policies or business strategies to reduce a company’s financial risks.

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Actuary duties and responsibilities

Actuaries analyze the financial consequences of risk. Other duties and responsibilities include:

  • Studying statistical data for the purpose of creating an analysis
  • Creating estimates of probability and likely costs for a given event such as death, natural disaster or sickness.
  • Calculating how insurance policies for different types of coverage are likely to pay out
  • Generating charts and presenting them at meetings along with explaining the information
  • Analyzing reports to determine next steps for the company or client
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What does an Actuary do?

Actuaries are typically employed by insurance companies to design and decide which policies and premiums to charge for different companies. They carefully analyze each policy to ensure it’ll be profitable and beneficial for companies to utilize. Some Actuaries may work for consulting firms, government entities or pension companies handling their property, life, casualty and health insurance policies. Actuaries typically gather statistical data to analyze, then they present these findings to government officials, shareholders, executives or other clients. They often create and use charts or graphs to better explain their projections, calculations and new policy plans.

Actuary skills and qualifications

Actuaries use various skills to perform their job duties effectively, which can include: 

  • Knowledge of statistics, probability and calculus
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills to clearly relay information to other employees at the company or the client 
  • Analytical skills to determine specifics of insurance policies and avoid any errors that would lead to negative consequences
  • Experience with computers and statistical modeling software
  • Knowledge of business and financial concepts
  • Organizational skills to keep track of multiple projects or cases at a time

Actuary salary expectations

An Actuary makes an average salary of $112,027 per year. Exact salary may vary depending on a candidate’s education, their level of experience and the geographical location of the company.

Actuary education and training requirements

A qualified candidate for the position of Actuary will have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science or a degree in a related field, such as mathematics or statistics. Some actuaries decide to pursue further education and obtain a master’s degree in actuarial science. 

Actuary experience requirements

Most employers require Actuaries to have previous actuarial experience through an internship or entry-level position. Many Actuaries begin their careers as apprentices to gain work experience before advancing in their careers.

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Frequently asked questions about Actuaries

 

What are the different types of insurance Actuaries?

Most Actuaries who work for insurance companies hold a specialty in certain insurance fields. A property and casualty insurance Actuary creates policies insuring people against property loss and other liabilities that may occur from fires, natural disasters or other accidents. Some Actuaries work primarily on health insurance policies by estimating costs of patient care under terms listed in their insurance contract. Others work for companies or individuals to evaluate the common risk factors of employees to estimate and build appropriate life insurance policies for them. 

 

Do Actuaries have different responsibilities in different industries?

Some Actuaries choose to work outside of the insurance industry to develop policies and plans for individuals or companies. When they work in enterprise roles, Actuaries find potential financial, geopolitical or economic risks that could provide short or long-term negative effects on the company. Then they’ll work with executives to develop logical strategies accordingly. 

Other Actuaries serve in the public sector making and proposing changes to government benefits like Medicare or Social Security. There are also actuaries who work as contract employees traveling to different companies, providing consulting advice on how to build policies best suited for their business. 

 

What's the difference between an Actuary and a Financial Analyst?

While both positions hold some similarities in their job duties, the main difference between the two is that an Actuary usually works for insurance agencies, while a Financial Analyst works on a company’s finance team. A Financial Analyst handles strictly financial information, as they gather and analyze a company’s finances to determine how to help the company cut costs and remain in strong financial standing. Actuaries work less directly with money and more on statistics and data that could eventually help the company stay within their budget and make wise investment decisions for their policies. 

 

What makes a good Actuary?

A strong Actuary is not only good at math and statistics but is also passionate about how numbers can help them build more accurate projections and estimates. Hiring a talented candidate who enjoys analytics and mathematics guarantees you’ll find a hard worker who thrives at finding creative solutions to complex challenges when designing new policies. It’s also beneficial to hire someone with a background or extensive knowledge of finance and business so they can better understand how to provide expert advice regarding the best policies to purchase. 

Actuaries regularly meet with all kinds of company employees like leadership members, programmers, finance teams and accountants, so it’s important for them to know how to effectively communicate with others. They should also possess confidence to speak up with their ideas and convince decision-makers that certain policies are the best options for their business.

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