Actuaries
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Overview
Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for actuaries are expected to grow by 23%, and should have about 2,100 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Actuaries are less likely to be automated than 70% of other careers.
Workforce size
Actuaries, with 23,600 workers, form a smaller workforce than 68% of careers.
Education
About 98% of actuaries have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by actuaries
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More actuaries have bachelor's degrees than 97% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for actuaries is higher than 93% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most actuaries.
This job's median $103KAll jobs' median $39K$104K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 33% of actuaries -- that's a smaller percentage than 51% of other jobs.
Gender of actuaries
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. Women actuaries actually earned more than men -- a very rare occurance among careers!
Race/Origin
About 19% of actuaries are minority, and 19% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of actuaries
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (19%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Actuaries per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 62% of actuaries, and 87% have company-sponsored health insurance (7% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for actuaries
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 97% 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.
The downside
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%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do actuaries earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for actuaries, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for actuaries compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for actuaries (BLS Salary Data)
$103K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$103K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all actuaries, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for actuaries compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for actuaries (ACS Salary Data)
$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where actuaries work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Actuaries (ACS)
Private for-profit (88.2%)
Private not-for-profit (7.0%)
Local government (0.4%)
State government (1.2%)
Federal government (0.8%)
Self-employed incorporated (2.0%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.4%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of actuaries by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$92K$91K$93K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Private not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of actuaries by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$103K$126K$78K$103K$86K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for actuaries

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$113K$83K$128K$96K$120K$113K$135K$139K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
02K4K6KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Actuaries and gender

With 33% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 51% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
33%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Actuaries
Men (67%)
Women (33%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

Although nationally the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, in actuaries, the median salary for women is 2% higher than the median salary for men. There are only 19 other jobs in which the median women's salary exceeds the median men's salary. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$93K$92K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KWomenMen

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of actuaries

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. The percentage of minority actuaries falls in about the middle of all careers' percentages. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of actuaries
White (81% )
Asian (16% )
Multiracial (2% )
Black (1% )
Other (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
19%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
19%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for actuaries by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$62K$87K$93K$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KBlackMultiracialWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for actuaries by nativity
$93K$94K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
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. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for actuaries.

Education attained by actuaries
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
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.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for actuaries? Below we see the distribution of actuaries salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as actuaries, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$92K$98K$141K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250KBachelor's Degree (67%)Master's Degree (20%)Professional Deg/Doct (8%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by actuaries

This table shows the college majors held by people working as actuaries. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

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!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Actuaries with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
41.9%
$0$200K$73K
15.0%
$0$200K$79K
5.9%
$0$200K$73K
3.0%
$0$200K$72K
2.6%
$0$200K$63K
2.2%
$0$200K$87K
2.0%
$0$200K$87K
1.2%
$0$200K$53K
1.1%
$0$200K$73K
1.0%
$0$200K$86K
1.0%
$0$200K$67K
1.0%
$0$200K$55K
0.9%
$0$200K$60K
0.8%
$0$200K$97K
0.8%
$0$200K$63K
0.7%
$0$200K$89K
0.6%
$0$200K$51K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

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. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by actuaries given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Postsecondary teachersElementary and middle school teachersApplications and systems software developersSecondary school teachersManagers (specialized areas)Computer programmersComputer systems analystsComputer and information systems managersActuariesAccountants and auditorsFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersFinancial managersManagement analystsClaims adjusters and insurance appraisersPersonal financial advisorsLawyers, judges, and magistratesChief executives and legislatorsMarketing and sales managersMathematicians and statisticiansFinancial analystsSecurities, commodities, and financial services sales agentsCredit counselors and loan officersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesRetail salespersonsComputer occupations (specialized areas)Computer support specialistsNetwork and computer systems administratorsSecretaries and administrative assistantsHuman resources workersCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsPhysicians and surgeonsEducation administratorsMathematicsActuarial ScienceEconomicsStatistics and DecisionScienceFinanceGeneral BusinessApplied MathematicsComputer ScienceBusiness Management andAdministrationPsychologyAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for actuaries

What jobs will most actuaries hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of actuaries reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

ActuariesRegistered nursesClaims adjusters and insurance appraisersPersonal financial advisorsCompliance officersAccountants and auditorsInsurance sales agentsManagement analystsHuman resources workers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for actuaries

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies the one job which was held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as actuaries as well as 1% of respondents after working as actuaries. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for actuaries
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for actuaries: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as actuaries? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of actuaries surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for actuaries
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Business operations specialists
104,900
$0$200K
3.3%
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
3.0%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
3.0%
Financial managers
56,900
$0$200K$68K
2.7%
Social and human service assistants
55,700
$0$200K$36K
2.7%
First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers
39,600
$0$200K$59K
2.9%
Epidemiologists and Medical/Life Scientists
13,700
$0$200K$67K
2.6%
Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists
7,700
$0$200K$51K
1.6%
Actuaries
2,100
$0$200K$92K
71.8%
Statistical assistants
1,600
$0$200K$46K
4.1%
No occupation
2.4%
Read about actuaries
Responsibilities and activities
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.

Personality and skills
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.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for actuaries
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for actuaries was higher than 93% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $103KAll jobs' median $39K$101K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for actuaries are anticipated to grow by 23% over the next decade; only 4% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for actuaries is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030010,00020,00030,00040,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
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.

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.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Actuaries per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.20.40.6
Salary
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.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Actuaries to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which actuaries earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio 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
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.04.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Actuaries (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
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