As an actuary you will be evaluating the chances of events happening and predict the outcomes for the purpose of minimizing the emotional and financial losses that are associated with undesirable events, such as disability, injury, loss of property or sickness, which can happen. For example, by managing your assets and liabilities you will be able to minimize the financial impact of life changing when they occur. Actuaries design and manage systems that control these risks and they must have sufficient skills in analyzing the business, information system and human behavior.
Most careers in actuary are in the insurance industry, specifically in casualty, health, life, or property insurance. They try to estimate the likelihood of occurrence of certain events using modeling techniques and the results if ever these events occur and help in setting the appropriate amount to be charged for particular services making sure that the premiums are profitable but at the same time affordable and competitive to other insurance companies. In other industries actuaries manage credit and help in setting the price of corporate security services and also devise investment tools which help keep their firm competitive. Actuaries employed by government agencies help in managing social security and health programs, like Medicare and also do the same in the private sector in pension and health plans. Consulting actuaries are contracted by their clients to give advice related to company pension plans, or how to reduce risk of injury while on the job. Consulting actuaries are also called upon to testify in courts regarding the assessment of the value of potential earnings of a person killed or disabled in an accident, the value of pension benefits in divorce cases, as well as other values which need estimation thru complex calculation.
Jobs in actuary require having a strong foundation in business and math courses and most actuaries are undergraduates of mathematical and statistical courses or business related courses like commerce, economics and banking and finance and to gain licensure you must have completed required subjects in applied statistics, corporate finance and economics. It is also ideal to enter internship programs for some valuable experience before graduating. Around the U.S. there are more than a hundred colleges and universities offering actuarial science programs leading to degrees in economics, finance, mathematics, or statistics. Depending in the country you are in, most companies today require applicants to pass licensure examinations which test an individual’s proficiency in math, including calculus, statistics and probability. Jobs in actuary today, more often than not, also require strong knowledge in using computers and familiarity in utilizing spreadsheet and database software as well as software used for statistical analysis. It would also be an advantage to have knowledge in computer languages such as SQL, SAS, or Visual Basic. Most companies prefer all around individuals who need less supervision and good communications and interpersonal skills. As an actuary you must keep up with trends in society and the economy as well as developments in business, finance and health that have a bearing in insurance and investments.
Outlook for employment in actuary is very good with CareerCast placing an actuary as the top ranking job in the U.S. in 2010 demand for which is expected to grow a lot in the coming years partly due to the low number of current jobs and to the growing need. Competition, though, will be tough because of great numbers of qualified candidates. More than half of all actuaries worked for insurance companies, a good number work in consulting services, and others work in management or for brokers and insurance agents. The industry has an expected job growth of 21 percent for the period 2008 to 2018 which is much faster than average. Most of this growth will come from consulting and financial services. As of 2008 the median annual wage for actuaries was $84,810 and the median for starting salaries for bachelor’s degree holders in actuarial science in 2009 was $56,320.
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