A Career in Actuarial Science

Job Rankings

According to JobsRated.com, which publishes a regular ranking of the best and worst jobs in the United States, the top three jobs (among over 200 careers surveyed) in 2009 are Mathematician, Actuary, and Statistician. This ranking is based on five criteria: income, outlook, stress, environment and physical demands.

Employment Opportunities

An actuary can work as a salaried employee or practice as a self-employed consultant. In many cases actuaries have risen to top management positions. There has also been an increasing demand for actuaries in non-traditional roles such as compensation consulting, health care management, financial planning, investments, environmental liability and information systems. A brief description of leading employment sectors follows.

Insurance Companies

About two-thirds of all actuaries work for various types of insurance companies. The actuary makes sure that a company charges a fair price to assume a risk, has enough money to pay claims, and operates profitably as a business.

Consulting firms

A large number of actuaries work as independent consultants. Some operate their own offices, while others work for large, nationwide actuarial consulting firms. Consulting actuaries work with and advise chief financial officers in financial matters and risk management.

Other areas

Actuaries also find significant and rewarding opportunities in education and government. Many serve as university professors or officers in the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Health Care Financing Administration and other government bodies.

Local Employers

Local Employers have shown great interest in UWM's actuarial program. They regularly visit our campus and recruit our students into their internship and regular positions. As an actuarial science major at UWM you will get to know these companies well. As an intern with these companies you will be able to earn valuable practical experience. More information is on the Contact, Employers, and Links page.

Dollars and Sense

Actuaries are well compensated for their high level of education which requires attainment of a professional designation. The salaries vary according to one's responsibility, experience, and progress toward an actuarial designation. According to a management consultant's 2008 actuarial compensation survey, starting salaries for actuaries ranged from $45,000 to $62,000 for those with one SOA/CAS (Society of Actuaries/Casualty Actuarial Society) exam passed, over $78,000 for Associates of the SOA, and over $100,000 for Fellows of the SOA.

Actuarial Designations

Most actuaries use their analytical skills in their profession. While analytical and mathematical skills are basic building blocks of an actuarial career, actuaries are first of all business people who need broad-based skills. The actuarial exam series administered by the SOA and the CAS are designed to develop such skills. Here is a brief description of the initial actuarial exams and credits.

Exam P/1 (Probability)

The application of probability to problems encountered in actuarial science. A thorough command of the supporting calculus and a very basic knowledge of insurance and risk management is assumed.

Exam FM/2 (Financial Mathematics)

Concepts of financial mathematics, and how those concepts are applied in calculating present and accumulated values for various streams of cash flows as a basis for future use in: reserving, valuation, pricing, asset/liability management, investment income, capital budgeting and valuing contingent cash flows.

Exam MFE/3F (Actuarial Models: Financial Economics)

The theoretical basis of investment-related actuarial models and the application of those models to assessing and managing financial risks. A thorough knowledge of calculus, probability and interest theory is assumed. Knowledge of risk management at the level of Exam P/1 is also assumed.

Exam MLC (Actuarial Models: Life Contingencies)

The actuarial techniques that are used to model and value cash flows dependent on death, survival and other random events. In particular, survival models (for single and multiple risks) and life insurances and annuities are covered in depth. A thorough command of calculus, probability models, and theory of interest is assumed.

Exam C/4 (Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models)

This exam covers statistical modeling and advanced actuarial techniques that are used in insurance and modern risk management applications. Specific topics include: calibration and evaluation of the models; methods of credibility theory for solving ratemaking exercises; decision-making using risk measures.

VEE (Validation by Educational Experience)

This requires completion of specific course work in (1) Economics, (2) Corporate Finance, and (3) Applied Statistics with grades of B- or better.

Here are the specific requirements (with relevant UWM courses in parentheses) to attain:

ASA (Associate of the Society of Actuaries)

  • Exams: P/1 (MthStat 361 and 592), FM/2 (Math 311, MthStat 593)
  • VEEs: Applied Statistics (MthStat 563 and 564), Economics (Econ 301 and 302), Corporate Finance (BusAdm 450)
  • Exams: MFE/3F, MLC, C/4.
  • FAP: Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice
  • APC: Associateship Professionalism Course

ACAS (Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society)

  • Exams: P/1, FM/2, MFE/3F, 3L, C/4
  • All three VEEs
  • Exams: 5, 6 and 7
  • CAS Course on Professionalism

CERA (Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst)

  • Exams: P/1, FM/2, MFE/3F, C/4
  • VEE-Economics
  • FAP, APC
  • Finance/ERM Exam
  • CERA Operational Risk e-Learning Module

Fellowships

To attain a Fellowship, a specialization track has to be chosen and additional exams and e-learning modules have to be completed. For more information visit the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society websites.