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Actuary Career


What Is an Actuary?


An actuary uses a blend of math, data, and financial theories to assess the risk of future events and help clients develop policies in response. They often work in the insurance sector, helping design policies, determining premium charges, and deciding whether it’s financially prudent to offer coverage for a certain event or client. Overall an actuary’s role is taking their understanding of numbers and turning it into actionable information for an organization. 


What Does an Actuary Do?

An actuary spends most of their time in an office working at a computer. They’re experts in statistics and analysis, leveraging their knowledge to predict outcomes for their employers. 

But what exactly does an average day look like for them?

  • Collating data. Whatever specific field an actuary is in, they’ll be working with data and a lot of it. So the first step for them will be compiling this data for statistical analysis. Then, they’ll be estimating the likelihood of an event occurring, and what that financial cost might be for their employer. 
  • Designing policies. Insurance policies, pensions, investment plans—they're responsible for designing these and testing them to ensure profitability while minimizing the risk. They ensure the premium is set at the correct level, figure out the policy limits, and use the collated stats to work out the correct deductible. This work is vital for ensuring adequate coverage at a cost that suits the customer and the client.
  • Communicating and explaining. Not everyone on a team will have the same math understanding, so clear communications and the ability to explain statistics to outsiders is an important skill for an actuary. They're called upon to summarize their findings to non-experts, so knowing how to get complex statistics across in a clear and concise manner is vital.


How Do I Become an Actuary?

Step One: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

An actuary can have a degree in just about anything, but it helps to have a strong background in math, stats, and business practices. A business management bachelor’s degree can be a great first step in giving you an important foundation in business and finance, preparing you for the work an actuary does with organizations every day. 

Step Two: Professional Actuary Certification

There are two levels of professional actuary certification:

  1. Associate
  2. Fellowship

To become an associate, you’ll need to pass seven official exams. This can take between four to seven years. To receive a fellowship, you’ll need to pass three more exams. This can require two to three more years of study. These exams are offered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). 

Step Three: Professional Life and Progression

Most aspiring actuaries will start working after they’ve completed the first two or three exams. Some might even stop there. But companies often compensate you to take the next exams and complete your certification. And if you want to earn more money, it pays to reach fellowship level. 

Advancement in the field of actuaries depends on how many official exams you have passed. If you’ve managed to reach fellowship level you will be able to oversee the work of junior actuaries, and perhaps even rise to executive positions such as Chief Risk Officer, for example.

And finally, both of these levels of actuary have a requirement for continuous education. These usually consist of training seminars that are sponsored by the society that you’ve done your main exams with.

Best Degrees for an Actuary


Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 19 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé this program will teach you include: 

  • Business communication
  • Product development
  • Decision making models
  • Project management strategies
  • Budgeting for business

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.


Finance – B.S.

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain relevant...

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain relevant industry skills.

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish similar programs within 24 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Management
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Spreadsheets
  • Financial Analysis
  • Problem Solving

The competency-based model at WGU allows you to move as quickly as you can master the material, and do your coursework on your schedule. Flexibility is key with the B.S. in finance at WGU.


Accounting – B.S. Business Administration

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 24 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Financial Statements
  • Communication
  • Detail Oriented
  • Research

Take your first step toward CPA certification and learn how to use GAAP, ledgers, and journals.

How Much Does an Actuary Make?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for an Actuary is around $111,030 per year or $53.38 per hour. Those working in professional, scientific, or technical sectors would top out at $113,780 whereas those working in company or enterprise management would make a little less, coming in at around $99,550 per year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The BLS predicts that the demands for actuaries will grow 18% from 2021-2031, which is much faster than most other professions (4%). Much of this demand is driven by the need for medical insurance companies for actuaries, which comes from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Management jobs are expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029, a rate faster than the average expected expansion across all occupations. This will mean an estimated 505,000 new management positions across a variety of different industries.

Exact business manager growth figures are largely dependent on the success of the respective industries hiring business managers. Because business managers are responsible for managing businesses in healthcare, educational, industrial, automotive, technological, and other markets, the outlook is difficult to forecast.

Still, the need for business managers to tie financial goals, employee management, and corporate best practices together is only expected to increase in years to come. 


What Skills Does an Actuary Need?

Assessing future risks isn’t easy, and actuaries will need to have a variety of skills to be successful. Being comfortable with the more powerful functions of Excel and Access is essential, along with having the analytical skills to assess trends and see the patterns behind the statistics. 

You’ll need:

  • Math skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • IT skills
  • Clear communication skills

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming an Actuary?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.