How to Become an Actuary

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Contributor, Benzinga
May 15, 2020

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Interested in a career as an actuary? You can play an integral role in helping insurance companies price policies and minimize organizational expenses, earn a comfortable living and do meaningful work. 

Benzinga is here to help you learn more about how to become an actuary. 

Actuary Overview

Is a career as an actuary right for you? We’ve included a description of the role, educational requirements, salary data and the job outlook to help you make an informed decision. 

Job Description

Actuaries analyze potential risks associated with events like accidents, death illness or natural disasters by utilizing financial theory, mathematics and statistics. You will also be responsible for projecting the economic impact of these risks and advising clients on effective strategies to reduce costs. This is often done through meetings where actuaries present written reports that detail key findings from both research and field tests. 

There are several career paths actuaries can take. You can work as an enterprise risk, health insurance, life insurance, pension and retirement benefits or property and casualty insurance actuary. 

Expect to work 40 or more hours per week in an office setting. Occasional travel to client sites may also be required.

Salary Information

In 2018, the median pay for actuaries was $108,350, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This breaks down to $52.09 per hour. 

However, the amount you earn will depend on the sector you choose to work in and your employer’s location. The average salaries for the top industries that employ actuaries are as follows: 

  • Finance and insurance: $110,020
  • Government: $101,740
  • Company and enterprise management: $98,880
  • Professional, scientific and technical services: $110,960 

Education Requirements

You need a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, mathematics or statistics to work as an actuary. An internship experience is also recommended as it demonstrates to employers that you have hands-on experience working in the field. 

As you progress in your career, you should also seek certification by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). 

Job Outlook

The demand for actuaries is slated to increase to 20% by 2028, which is 15% faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. This is good news for aspiring actuaries as there should be an ample amount of opportunities to choose from in the coming years. 

Tips for Becoming an Actuary 

Keep these suggestions in mind as you pursue a career as an actuary. 

Take an Online Course

You can take an online course to learn more about what the job entails and what it takes to get hired and excel as an actuary. Some courses also offer a sneak peek into the actuarial certification exams. 

Enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree Program

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, actuarial science or statistics before employers will consider bringing you on board. When evaluating your options, look for degree programs offered by accredited colleges or universities. The cost of attendance should also be affordable. 

Complete an Internship

Take advantage of internship opportunities while you’re enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program. It’s an excellent way to get real-world experience and prepare for the workforce and you can boost your resume to impress prospective employers. 

Get Certified 

Professional actuaries can get certified through the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Here’s a quick breakdown of the certifications:

  • CAS certificates are most suitable for actuaries who work in automobile, homeowners, medical malpractice and workers’ compensation insurance.  
  • SOA certificates are designed for actuaries who work in health insurance, finance, investments, life insurance and retirement benefits.

Each professional society offers 2 certification levels: associate and fellow. Most actuaries reach the associate level, which requires 7 exams, in 4 to 7 years and the fellow level in 2 to 3 more years. 

Many employers only consider job candidates who have passed at least 2 actuary exams before graduating.

Best Universities for Becoming an Actuary 

Here are the top online degree programs for aspiring actuaries.   

1. Indiana University 


Indiana University offers an online Bachelor of Science in mathematics. The core curriculum dives into calculus, linear algebra, mathematical modeling, urban algebra and real analysis. You can top off your degree by specializing in economics, finance or probability. When you finish the program, you will be prepared to work as an actuary. 

2. Ottawa University


Ottawa University features an online bachelor’s degree in mathematics that is also ideal for aspiring actuaries. You will gain an in-depth understanding of algebra, computer programming, geometry and statistics principles. The program also addresses the significance of mathematics concerning practical problem solving and technological advancement. Plus, you can select the actuarial science concentration to tailor your studies to courses that better align with your career goals. 

These online math courses are also ideal for aspiring actuaries. 

1. Actuaries: A Career Guidance Course by Udemy

Source: Udemy

Offered by the Art of Service, this highly-rated course sheds light on the benefits of becoming an actuary and what it takes to succeed in the field. It’s comprised of 4 segments: 

  • Introduction to Actuaries (Parts 1 and 2)
  • Employment in Actuarial Sciences 
  • Finding Actuary Jobs and Offers
  • Applying for Actuary Jobs and Offers (Parts 1 and 2)

Enroll today for full lifetime access to 28 lectures condensed into 1.5 hours of on-demand video, 1 minute of on-demand audio and 2 downloadable resources. 

It’s only $9.99 to get started. 

2. Introduction to the Actuarial Exams by Udemy

Source: Udemy

Just $9.99 gets you a seat in Introduction to the Actuarial Exams. It covers the purpose of actuarial science, risk dimensions, the actuarial syllabus, actuarial exams, study tips and so much more. Instruction is delivered by Fellow Actuary Michael Jordan through 5 lectures that span 5 hours. You will also receive a certificate of completion when you finish the course. 

Prepare for Your Career as an Actuary 

Ready to take the first step toward becoming an actuary? Start with an online course or degree program from our list of recommendations. Put your best foot forward and network strategically to position yourself for rewarding career opportunities. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community