How to Become an Actuary

By Eric Hammer

If you want a really well paid profession then you should definitely look into how to become an actuary. An actuary is a professional risk assessor, someone who figures out whether or not something is too risky and how much of chance there is of something happening.

The most common type of actuary works for insurance companies and helps them to decide exactly how much they need to charge you for your insurance. The idea is for the company to be able to figure out just how likely you are to file a claim and to charge an amount that will be appropriate for that. Actuaries are the people who actually figure out the numbers behind your insurance premiums.

There are also actuaries who work for brokerage houses because they help people to predict how much money they'll need for retirement and how much they'll need to save each month to get to the point of having the money to pay for retiring in reasonable comfort.

How Much Can You Make?

Actuaries are fairly well paid. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an actuary was over $95,000 in 2008 and that number is only expected to grow as the demand for actuaries increases, especially in light of recent changes to the health insurance market which is expected to see an explosion in the number of people applying for policies.

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You'll need to be very good at math and a very detail oriented person in order to do this job well. Actuaries need to be able to follow complex mathematical formulas which take into account the risks involved in almost any person's life and to then boil that down to a simple number which the people at the insurance company can use to decide what to charge.

Becoming an actuary is also not easy to do because the test that you'll need to take in order to earn your license is an extremely difficult one which many people fail. However, if you are able to pass, you should find work reasonably easy to come by in this field.

Qualifications / Requirements

You will generally need at least a bachelor's degree in a math or a finance related subject such as math, economics or accounting in order to become an actuary. You'll also need excellent analytical skills and you'll need to pass a test before you can be licensed as an actuary.

First Steps

Start by going to school and earning your degree in a math or economics related subject. Find out if your school has any courses or a major in actuarial sciences. Most schools offer at least some such courses however there are few that offer an actual major in the subject. Once you have your degree, you should sit for the actuarial exam as soon as possible since you'll need to pass before you can work as an actuary.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how to become an actuary.

Be an Actuary - A web site devoted to learning how to become an actuary.

Society of Actuaries - A trade group for those interested in this line of work.

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