Risk management is increasingly important in the modern business world. Actuaries analyze data to assess potential risk in the financial marketplace.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on statistics or mathematics is usually required for professionals in this field. After graduation, becoming a member of one of the major actuarial societies and associations can provide increased opportunities for networking and access to resources that might not otherwise be available to individual actuaries.

Here are five of the most important membership organizations in the actuarial field.

Society of Actuaries

Membership in the Society of Actuaries offers significant benefits for professionals in this field. Actuaries who join the society can access cutting-edge research on topics pertaining directly to the actuarial field. The Society of Actuaries also offers educational opportunities for its members, allowing them to develop their professional skills and to qualify for positions of greater responsibility and remuneration. The society maintains a tiered membership system that allows actuaries with more experience to achieve higher ranks and to take greater responsibility for the activities of the organization. Most members of the Society of Actuaries practice in the life and health insurance and pension fields of the financial industry.

Casualty Actuarial Society

Now in its 100th year of existence, the Casualty Actuarial Society focuses primarily on risk management as it applies to the property and casualty insurance fields. With more than 6,500 members across the U.S., the Casualty Actuarial Society is one of the oldest and most respected actuarial membership organizations in America. Members are required to complete a series of examinations to be granted Fellow or Associate status with the organization. The Society holds two meetings each year at which research on topics related to the actuary field is presented and discussed among the membership of the organization.

American Academy of Actuaries

With its headquarters located in Washington, D.C., the American Academy of Actuaries is suitably close to the political action. The Academy serves its more than 18,500 members by representing them in the public policy arena, by setting standards of practice for the actuarial industry and by offering educational resources and opportunities. Actuaries must already hold membership in another selected actuarial organization to be considered for membership in the American Academy of Actuaries. Once accepted, members enjoy exceptional networking opportunities, the chance to take on leadership roles through the committee system and access to an extensive library of webinars and presentations designed specifically for professionals in the actuary field.

American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries

Since its founding in 1966 as a purely actuarial organization, the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) has evolved to include all categories of retirement planning professionals. Actuaries still make up a significant percentage of the membership of this organization; however, financial planners, lawyers, retirement planners and other professionals are also represented among the membership of the ASPPA. The organization offers a number of credentialing and certification opportunities for its members. Additionally, the ASPPA directory serves as a valuable networking resource for members, allowing them to touch base with colleagues across town or across the country.

Conference of Consulting Actuaries

Best known for its exceptional range of continuing education programs for actuaries in the consulting field, the Conference of Consulting Actuaries boasts more than 1,200 members across the U.S. and Canada. Established in 1950, the organization focuses on the challenges facing actuaries employed outside the insurance industry. Members are classified as Fellows or Associates depending upon their certifications or credentials. Those who achieve full Fellow status can take a more active role in guiding the activities and educational programs offered by the Conference of Consulting Actuaries. Members can also participate in any or all of the three annual meetings of the organization and can access teleconferences and seminars on topics of interest in the actuarial consulting world.

Connecting with these membership organizations can provide actuaries with valuable opportunities for networking and continuing education in their chosen field. By taking advantage of the certification options available from these elite actuarial organizations, students can make the most of their education to achieve their goals in the modern risk management field.

See also: 30 Best Value Actuarial Science Programs 2016