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Analyze statistical data, such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates and construct probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits. May ascertain insurance rates required and cash reserves necessary to ensure payment of future benefits.
Undergraduate program resulting in the highest median salary ($103K): Mathematics
Largest undergraduate program (41.0% of workers): Mathematics
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Titles for this career often contain these words
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Responsibilities and activities

Actuaries typically do the following:

  • Compile statistical data and other information for further analysis
  • Estimate the probability and likely economic cost of an event such as death, sickness, an accident, or a natural disaster
  • Design, test, and administer insurance policies, investments, pension plans, and other business strategies to minimize risk and maximize profitability
  • Produce charts, tables, and reports that explain calculations and proposals
  • Explain their findings and proposals to company executives, government officials, shareholders, and clients

Most actuarial work is done with computers. Actuaries use database software to compile information. They use advanced statistics and modeling software to forecast the probability of an event occurring, the potential costs of the event if it does occur, and whether the insurance company has enough money to pay future claims.

Actuaries typically work on teams that often include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance. For example, some actuaries work with accountants and financial analysts to set the price for security offerings or with market research analysts to forecast demand for new products.

Most actuaries work at insurance companies, where they help design policies and determine the premiums that should be charged for each policy. They must ensure that the premiums are profitable yet competitive with other insurance companies.

Actuaries in the insurance industry typically specialize in a specific field of insurance, such as one of the following:

Health insurance actuaries help develop long-term care and health insurance policies by predicting expected costs of providing care under the terms of an insurance contract. Their predictions are based on numerous factors, including family history, geographic location, and occupation.

Life insurance actuaries help develop annuity and life insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating, on the basis of risk factors such as age, gender, and tobacco use, how long someone is expected to live.

Property and casualty insurance actuaries help develop insurance policies that insure policyholders against property loss and liability resulting from accidents, natural disasters, fires, and other events. They calculate the expected number of claims resulting from automobile accidents, which varies with the insured person’s age, sex, driving history, type of car, and other factors.

Some actuaries apply their expertise to financial matters outside of the insurance industry. For example, they develop investment strategies that manage risks and maximize returns for companies or individuals.

Pension and retirement benefits actuaries design, test, and evaluate company pension plans to determine if the expected funds available in the future will be enough to ensure payment of future benefits. They must report the results of their evaluations to the federal government. Pension actuaries also help businesses develop other types of retirement plans, such as 401(k)s and healthcare plans for retirees. In addition, they provide retirement planning advice to individuals.

Enterprise risk actuaries identify any risks, including economic, financial, and geopolitical risks that may affect a company’s short-term or long-term objectives. They help top executives determine how much risk the business is willing to take, and they develop strategies to respond to these issues.

Actuaries also work in the public sector. In the federal government, actuaries may evaluate proposed changes to Social Security or Medicare or conduct economic and demographic studies to project future benefit obligations. At the state level, actuaries may examine and regulate the rates charged by insurance companies.

Some actuaries are considered consultants and provide advice to clients on a contract basis. Many consulting actuaries audit the work of internal actuaries at insurance companies or handle actuarial duties for insurance companies that are not large enough to keep their own actuaries on staff.

Median salary: $111,030 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $83,550 and $151,060.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
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Salary growth for actuaries
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Actuaries
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of actuaries who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (54%)
  • Consequence of Error (47%)
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Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Actuaries? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Analytical skills
Actuaries use analytical skills to identify patterns and trends in complex sets of data to determine the factors that have an effect on certain types of events.
Communication skills
Actuaries must be able to explain complex technical matters to those without an actuarial background. They must also communicate clearly through the reports and memos that describe their work and recommendations.
Computer skills
Actuaries must know programming languages and be able to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools.
Interpersonal skills
Actuaries serve as leaders and members of teams, so they must be able to listen to other people’s opinions and suggestions before reaching a conclusion.
Math skills
Actuaries quantify risk by using the principles of calculus, statistics, and probability.
Problem-solving skills
Actuaries identify risks and develop ways for businesses to manage those risks.
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by actuaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), actuaries typically hold a bachelor's degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as actuaries as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for actuaries

Actuaries must have a strong background in mathematics, statistics, and business. Typically, an actuary has an undergraduate degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, or some other analytical field.

To become certified professionals, students must complete coursework in economics, statistics, and corporate finance.

Students also should take classes outside of mathematics and business to prepare them for a career as an actuary. Coursework in computer science, especially programming languages, and the ability to use and develop spreadsheets, databases, and statistical analysis tools, are valuable. Classes in writing and public speaking will improve students’ ability to communicate in the business world.

Education level of Actuaries
About 98% of actuaries have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by actuaries
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 89% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
  1. Mathematics
  2. Actuarial Science
  3. Economics
  4. Statistics and Decision Science
  5. Finance
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College majors held by actuaries
This table shows the college majors held by people working as actuaries. If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Salary comparison for bachelor's only
Career salary (tail) versus Career/Major salary (dot)
Does the bachelor's-only salary rise or fall with this major?
Salary for bachelor's-only
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Salary for all workers
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education for Career and Major
Workers with this career/major
Percentage in this career with this major
Not so much?
The link between degrees and this career
With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as actuaries, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.
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MathematicsActuarial ScienceEconomicsStatistics and Decis...FinanceApplied MathematicsGeneral BusinessBusiness Management ...Computer ScienceMultidisciplinary or...All other degreesThis jobTop 10 majors
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Actuaries per 1,000 workers (ACS)
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Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most actuaries? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as actuaries. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where actuaries earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for actuaries compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for actuaries.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which actuaries earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Actuaries (ACS)
6% of Actuaries are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 6% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
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Distribution: Salaries of actuaries by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$96K$96K$101K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Private not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Actuaries and gender
With 34% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 53% of careers.
Gender of Actuaries
Men (66%)
Women (34%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
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Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is better for actuaries, with the median salary for men only 1.7% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Actuaries
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Actuaries.
Race/origin of actuaries
White (79% )
Asian (17% )
Multiracial (2% )
Black (2% )
Other (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.