Actuaries deal with financial risk analysis, providing information for businesses, agencies and government departments regarding the likelihood and costs of different types of risks. Skills in mathematics, statistics and business are central to the profession. Gaining these skills when obtaining your actuarial degree prepares you for careers in a variety of sectors.
Most actuaries work in the insurance industry to help set premium prices and develop new policies. Actuaries are able to analyze specific factors relating to individuals or groups and predict the cost of providing coverage over time. This may apply to health insurance or life insurance and works to keep the market competitive while ensuring that agencies remain profitable. Some actuaries work with property and causality insurance to determine the number of claims that are likely to be made for various problems such as accidents and fires and how much these claims will cost companies.
Market research analysts work with businesses to assess current markets and advise executives on decisions regarding advertising and product development. Actuaries can aid these market professionals by extending their predictions into the future. It’s one thing to know what consumers want now and quite another to be able to forecast how they’ll behave in the coming months or years. This information allows companies to minimize the investment risk involved in marketing campaigns and expanding product lines. Working with large corporations can open the door for significant advancement within the company or in other parts of the business industry.
Being a consultant is another area where actuaries can enjoy great growth potential. Consulting actuaries work with business executives to help analyze risks in many areas, including healthcare, insurance and pensions. The costs of these essentials fluctuate depending on the market and employee demographics, and companies need to know how much they’ll need to spend to continue providing benefits over time. Working as a consultant may also involve advising on enterprise risk, a broad scope of risk management that involves all potential problems that may prevent a business from reaching its goals. Analyzing these risks helps companies determine what plans must be in place to support ongoing success.
Federal, state and local government agencies come up against risk every day and can benefit from the help of an actuary to manage spending and create policies. Most actuarial work in this sector involves benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare. As with the benefits offered by private businesses, public benefits can vary widely in cost depending on factors like the age of the population and spikes in unemployment. Actuaries can determine just how much of an impact such changes will have on the government and the public and what can be done to minimize it.
Although accountants are usually the ones to handle financial planning, actuaries can also find jobs in this important industry. Planning for retirement, making investments and even small daily financial decisions can cause confusion for the general public. People appreciate having someone to turn to who can make sense of all the variables involved. In many ways, working in financial planning is a smaller scale version of doing risk assessments for corporations. The amounts of money are smaller, but it still requires a keen ability to analyze current and future markets to develop long-term plans for money management.
Although pay differs from one sector to another, the average salary for an actuary exceeds $100,000. If you enjoy mathematics, making predictions, developing reports and advising others, you can have a lucrative, rewarding career should you choose to pursue an actuarial degree.