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Actuary

Through their knowledge of statistics, finance, and business, actuaries assess the risk of events occurring and help create policies that minimize risk and its financial impact on companies and clients. One of the main functions of actuaries is to help businesses assess the risk of certain events occurring and formulate policies that minimize the cost of that risk. For this reason, actuaries are essential to the insurance industry.

Hours: Actuaries have desk jobs, and their offices usually are comfortable and pleasant. They often work at least 40 hours a week. Some actuaries—particularly consulting actuaries—may travel to meet with clients. Consulting actuaries also may experience more erratic employment and be expected to work more than 40 hours per week.

Opportunities: Advancement depends largely on job performance and the number of actuarial examinations passed. Actuaries with a broad knowledge of the insurance, pension, investment, or employee benefits fields can rise to administrative and executive positions in their companies. Actuaries with supervisory ability may advance to management positions in other areas, such as underwriting, accounting, data processing, marketing, and advertising.

Pay: Median annual earnings of actuaries were $82,800 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $58,710 and $114,570. The lowest 10 percent had earnings of less than $46,470 while the top 10 percent earned more than $145,600.

Training: Actuaries need a strong background in mathematics and general business. Usually, actuaries earn an undergraduate degree in mathematics, statistics or actuarial science, or a business-related field such as finance, economics or business.   Two professional societies sponsor programs leading to full professional status in their specialty: the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). The SOA certifies actuaries in the fields of life insurance, health benefits systems, retirement systems, and finance and investment. The CAS gives a series of examinations in the property and casualty field, which includes car, homeowners, medical malpractice, workers compensation, and personal injury liability.

Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Actuaries, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos041.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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