Become an Actuary 

How to become an actuary

Actuaries make a living by crunching numbers and using financial formulas to predict the likelihood of certain events. They specialize in calculating risks and developing optimal strategies for businesses and individuals seeking to minimize those undesirable outcomes. For example, an actuary may run statistics for an insurance company to find what the most beneficial price for a plan may be regarding a client's data. They calculate the probability of events like deaths, injuries, sickness, natural disasters and more to find how to reduce the insurance company's economic costs.

With online actuary schooling, you may learn what it takes to pursue a career analyzing financial risks based on statistics and historical data. Moreover, online courses often allow students to study at their own pace, which can be beneficial for individuals without a strong math background. Online courses also allow you to work whenever is most convenient and without commuting to an educational facility that could be miles away.

Are Online Actuary Programs for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing an online actuary program:

  • Actuaries must demonstrate proficiency in math, statistics and business for employment. However, many organizations also encourage coursework in computer science, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[i].
  • Many entry-level actuaries will start in a training mentorship program with other more experienced professionals. During this time, they may be encouraged to seek certifications in exchange for raises and bonuses.
  • Actuary certifications are distributed by the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries. There are two levels of accreditation - associate and fellowship - for both groups, and receiving a certification normally requires hundreds of hours of studying and passing multiple exams.
  • Before signing up for online courses, explore whether particular programs contain work in math, statistics, business and computer science. Moreover, check with any potential employers to inquire about the value of an online degree.

Actuary Career Paths and Potential Salaries

There are many career paths you may choose to pursue after attending online courses in an actuary program. Because the foundations of a career as an actuary include math, statistics and business, there are many other similar positions you may be prepared to seek after schooling. Study which options may be available using statistics compiled by the BLS.

Actuaries[i]

Entry-level actuaries complete basic tasks. They compile data and spend time in other departments - such as marketing, product development and more - to learn how the work they will do later on fits into the broader fabric of the company. They may be asked to do research and complete reports as they garner more experience.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $93,680
  • Job growth through 2022: 26 percent (much faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Financial Analysts[ii]

Financial analysts study organizational history, business trends and past investments to provide guidance to organizations about future decisions. They are often required to analyze financial statements and prepare written reports. They frequently work for banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms and insurance companies as well as other organizations.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $76,950
  • Job growth through 2022: 16 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Accountants and Auditors[iii]

Accountants and auditors review, organize and prepare financial records to ensure that all information is accurate. They see that taxes for an organization or an individual are paid on time and appropriately. They will also examine financial data to explore ways that businesses and people can use their assets more effectively, suggesting ways to increase revenue while driving down costs.

  • 2012 median annual salary: $63,550
  • Job growth through 2022: 13 percent (average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

[i] bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm#tab-1

[ii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm

[iii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-1