What is an actuary?
An actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk. Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those of concern to insurance and pension programs. They evaluate the likelihood of those events, design creative ways to reduce the likelihood and decrease the impact of adverse events that actually do occur.
What skills do actuaries have?
Actuaries come from many different backgrounds, but they all have a few things in common. They have strong analytical skills and specialized math knowledge, most importantly in probability and statistics. They are great at problem solving and project management, and they also have a good business and finance sense. They also have solid technical skills as there is often some programming work involved in their day-to-day tasks.
Why become an actuary?
Being an actuary is consistently ranked one of the best jobs in North America. It offers a low-stress environment, a very competitive salary (starting around $60 000-$65 000 and increasing to over $100 000 when you get your fellowship, which can happen relatively quickly), and generally great hours. While other careers require graduate studies, you can get a job as an actuary and work while you complete your accreditation. Most companies will even pay for all your study material and offer you paid study days! But the main reason why you should become an actuary is because it is a stimulating, interesting, and challenging career where you can put your diverse set of skills to work!
What are the different types of actuaries?
When it comes time to choose the Casualty Actuarial Society’s (CAS) exam track or the Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) exam track, choosing the one that’s right for you requires asking some questions about the aspects of actuarial science you enjoy most. Consider pursuing an internship on both sides of the typical actuarial divide—property/casualty and life and health to help you determine which track is best for you.
- Property and Casualty actuaries: These actuaries work in the property and casualty insurance industry for companies like Intact Insurance, RSA, TD and Desjardins Insurance.
- Life: Many actuaries work in the life insurance business for companies like Sunlife and Manulife.
- Pension and benefits consulting: Some actuaries work for consulting firms like Towers Watson, Morneau Shepell and Aon Hewitt to help businesses determine pension plans and benefits for their employees.
- Many more! There are also a lot of actuaries who do less traditional actuarial work and get jobs in finance, statistics and government!