There are approximately 23,600 actuaries employed in the United States, and 70 percent work for insurance-related employers. Approximately 16 percent of actuaries work for professional, scientific and technical consulting services. Other actuaries work for financial service-providing firms (including commercial banks, investment banks, and retirement funds), colleges and universities, public accounting firms, labor unions, ratings bureaus, and fraternal organizations. Others are employed as professors. Some actuaries are self-employed.
The best way to enter this field is by taking the necessary beginning examinations while still in college. Once students have graduated and passed these exams, they are in a very good position to apply for entry-level jobs in the field and can command higher starting salaries. Some college students organize interviews and find jobs through their college career services office, while others interview with firms recruiting on campus. Many firms offer summer and year-round actuarial training programs or internships that may result in a full-time job.
Beginning actuaries may prepare calculations for actuarial tables or work with policy settlements or funds. With experience, they may prepare correspondence, reports, and research. Beginners who have already passed the preliminary exams often start with more responsibility and higher pay.
Advancement within the profession to assistant, associate, or chief actuary greatly depends on the individual's on-the-job performance, competence on the actuarial examinations, and leadership capabilities.
Some actuaries qualify for administrative positions in underwriting, accounting, or investment because of their broad business knowledge and specific insurance experience. Because their judgment is so valuable, actuaries may advance to administrative or executive positions, such as head of a department, vice president, chief risk manager, or president of a company, manager of an insurance rating bureau, partner in a consulting firm, or, possibly, state insurance commissioner. Actuaries with management skills and a strong business background may move into other areas such as marketing, advertising, and planning.
Tips for Entry
Visit Be an Actuary (http://www.beanactuary.org) for more information on careers.
Visit the Actuary of the Future Section of the Society of Actuaries' Web site (https://www.soa.org/sections/actuary-of-future/) to learn about employment trends, opportunities to acquire skills, LinkedIn discussions, podcasts, and more.
Arrange an information interview with an actuarial manager. Let it be known that you are interested in pursuing a career in the field.
Join the LinkedIn group The Entry-Level Actuary (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3701842/) for information on jobs, scholarships, and industry developments.