If you watched the movie, Along Came Polly, you might have discovered a career that you had never heard of- unless you were staring at Jennifer Aniston the whole time and then maybe you missed it. Ben Stiller played the part of an actuary—which sounds kind of like a bird watcher or something of the sort, but it’s not. Stiller played a boring, safe square actuary- so if that’s who you are; here is the perfect job for you! (It’s alright if you’re boring. Not everyone can be Lady Gaga.)
Actuaries evaluate the likelihood and consequences of risk. As an actuary, you will most likely work for an insurance provider. Your job will be to use statistics and mathematics to estimate the likelihood and cost of claims related to death, illness, injury, or property damage so the insurance company can cover its expenses and stay profitable. Some actuaries work for public or private employers to manage risk for pension plans and programs like Social Security. You might end up helping manage company plans or overseeing risk reductions for employers. So that’s exciting...or not. No pressure to be wild and crazy.
But here’s the exciting news: employment opportunities for actuaries should climb quickly over the next decade. Actuaries held 19,700 jobs in 2008, and that figure should grow by 4,200, or more than 21 percent, over the next decade. Insurance industry needs will remain stable, and healthcare and consulting will continue to rely on the skills actuaries possess.
Although many people think that this job is kind of geeky, with the help of computers, calculations and curiosity, actuaries place a financial value on risk and can run the numbers on everything from health insurance to pensions to hurricanes. Seriously, not everyone is cut out to be a rodeo clown or a professional magician.
Last year, actuary was ranked as the best job of 2010, according to a recent study for job site CareerCast.com it’s expected to be a top job again in 2011.
Here’s the best part: median pay for actuaries was about $87,210 in 2010, according to the Labor Department. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $51,950, while the highest-paid 10 percent made more than $158,240. New graduates with bachelor’s degree in actuarial science can expect starting salaries around $56,000. Not bad for a boring job.
To become an actuary, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree with a strong finance or math concentration. Consider majors in mathematics, statistics, economics, or even a degree in actuarial science, which is offered by about 100 schools. Certification programs offered by the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries may be covered by employers, and if you pass your exams, it often leads to a pay raise. There is some data suggesting that more employers are now looking for employees who have already passed an initial exam, so get out your textbooks and start reading.
Cecelia Moore works as an actuarial associate in Los Angeles and loves her job. She says it’s anything but boring. “We predict the future for so many different businesses,” she said. “That’s what we try to do, using different statistics and probabilities. There are a lot of people counting on us so even though being an actuary is perceived as boring, it’s anything but.”
From Beanactuary.com, the Top 10 Reasons to Consider Being an Actuary
Ten. You want a career that is dynamic and challenging.
Nine. You don’t want to go to graduate school.
Eight. You want a career with superior job security through economic cycles.
Seven. You want a professional title, but don’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant.
Six. You want a career with many opportunities that will provide you with skills that are transferable across multiple industries.
Five. You would like to “earn while you learn.”
Four. You want a career that you control because advancement is merit-based.
Three. You want to be able to choose among outstanding job offers.
Two. You want a highly competitive salary and excellent benefits.
And the #1 reason to Be An Actuary is ... You are self-motivated, goal oriented, and have superior math aptitude and communication skills.