Even though associate actuary certification is study-intensive, many actuary firms offer study sessions for associate candidates. These work-study programs permit actuaries to earn money while they study, which is often a full time job in itself. These programs aid associate candidates by holding study groups and loaning out study materials.
Because the actuary field emphasizes risk management, most associate actuaries work at insurance agencies as underwriters. They use their superior mathematical skills and statistical knowledge to design appealing coverage packages. They create these packages considering both maximum company earnings and client coverage. They strategically price insurance premiums and deductibles so that people can afford insurance without draining their incomes. Because of actuarial innovation, clients from all income levels can select from a variety of affordable policies.
Since associate actuaries primarily focus on risk, they advise insurance companies to let go clients whose risks are too high. For instance, they may advise agents to cancel a client who has been at fault for several car accidents, for each of which the insurance company has paid. In addition, actuaries help predict how much companies will pay in claims once natural disasters, such as hurricanes, strike local areas. Their recommendations prompt insurance agents to protect company assets.
Though associate actuaries work heavily with numbers, they have people-driven goals. That is, their work reassures people that even though accidents occur every minute, they have the power to financially guard themselves and their loved ones. Thanks to associate actuaries, people are free to enjoy life despite its myriad financial risks.
Besides insurance agencies, associate actuaries work as investment consultants at banks and securities firms. They also take up pension actuarial jobs at corporations, where they develop high earning retirement funds. Moreover, there are many other actuarial jobs in consulting firms, public accounting firms, and government agencies. Highly successful actuaries may even be self-employed and create their own schedules. Overall, associate actuaries work for any company or organization that strives to minimize financial risk.
Consulting actuaries are well informed about investment trends and can help people invest in lucrative stocks and bonds. Again, as they counsel regarding financial risks, they also recommend clients to invest their money in a variety of stocks. This variety may consist of both tried-and-true stocks and more risky, yet potentially sky rocketing stocks. The operating word of many investment actuaries is ''diversify,'' so they urge their clients to take small risks rather than investing their savings into one potentially devastating risk.
Because so much risk rests on their shoulders, associate actuaries may experience high stress levels on the job. In fact, many actuaries choose to remain at relatively low-level actuarial jobs because they are unwilling to assume that much accountability. Yet, if they choose to advance to associate actuaries, they undertake actuarial exams sponsored by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). The former exam certifies actuaries wanting to enter life insurance, health benefits systems, retirement plans, and investment work. The latter exam certifies actuaries wanting to enter casualty and property insurance. Both certification programs consist of several exams gradually increasing in difficulty. To obtain the associate-level certification, most candidates take about 4-6 years to pass these exams.
These exams also help associate candidates assess their occupational strengths which they can build on. The SOA tests actuarial skills using both written exams and computer modules, while the CAS uses mainly exams. The SOA also requires candidates to choose a job specialty, upon which they take more specialty specific exams. Notwithstanding the exam they choose to take, associate candidates must have knowledge of computer spreadsheets, databases, and general statistical analysis software that utilizes statistical models. They also hone their communications skills, especially learning how to simplify advanced mathematical concepts for non-actuary workers.
Many actuaries take associate-level exams during their senior year of college to claim higher starting salaries following graduation. However, many actuarial candidates land entry-level jobs before taking these exams. These candidates take advantage of the work-study programs offered by many actuarial employers. Upon gaining certification, associate actuaries often obtain a salary raise. Associate-level actuaries study for months at home while working full time jobs before gaining certification.
If associate-level actuaries want to obtain higher certification, they take the fellowship exam through both SOA and CAS. This exam takes about 2-3 years to complete, and tests the same economical, statistical, and financial skills found in associate-level exams, though they have more advanced questions. Taking these exams usually qualifies fellowship actuaries for greater pay raises and job promotions, such as Chief Risk Officer (CRO) at corporations and manager actuaries at insurance firms.
The economy is in high demand of actuaries, especially at insurance firms. Moreover, healthcare and consulting firms are creating many actuarial job openings. Most associate actuaries will land secure jobs due to their completion of at least the first level of SOA or CAS exams. Those who work comfortably with many types of computer software and computer languages will also gain steady employment.
Associate actuaries typically enjoy high-earning incomes. On average, actuaries earn about $82,000 per year, while the top earners make about $146,000 per year. Actuaries are exceptional in this respect because many jobs earning these incomes require graduate or doctorate degrees. In contrast, certification is all that an actuary needs to claim high earnings.