Be an Actuarial Analyst: Education and Career Roadmap
Research the requirements to become an actuarial analyst. Learn about the job description and read the step-by-step process to start a career in actuarial sciences.
Actuarial Analyst Information
Actuarial analysts are also known as actuaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), actuaries examine risk factors to determine the financial costs of various types of insurance. For instance, actuarial analysts may review health care statistics to figure out how often certain patient populations use their insurance benefits. By reviewing these numbers, analysts can make recommendations on how much money insurance companies should charge members. Not all actuaries work in insurance. Some actuaries work for corporations, and these professionals analyze market trends, investment risks and costs estimations to help corporations make major financial decisions.
The BLS states that most actuaries require the minimum of bachelor's degrees to find suitable employment. Many actuaries are also certified through one of the major actuarial certification societies. Actuarial analysts usually work for insurance companies, but they may also work for government agencies, private-sector businesses or consulting firms. The table below shows the general career qualifications necessary for becoming an actuarial analyst, according to the BLS:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Actuarial science, business finance, mathematics or economics|
|Licensure and Certification||State or federal licenses required for some actuarial analysts, certification highly recommended|
|Experience||Some internship experience recommended|
|Key Skills||Comfortable working with others, knowledgeable in mathematics, able to present findings, detail oriented and familiar with writing reports|
|Computer Skills||Well acquainted with actuarial software programs (statistical modeling, cost estimation and database management), knowledge of computer programming languages and capable of utilizing spreadsheet creation software|
|Technical Skills||Expertise in risk management, cost estimation and insurance systems|
|Additional Requirements||Willingness to travel to clients, as needed|
Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Degree Program
Information from the BLS indicates that individuals interested in becoming actuaries often major in such fields as mathematics, finance, economics or business. Bachelor's degree programs in actuarial sciences actually incorporate most of these fields. Course topics often include statistics, risk management, calculus, actuarial models, probability and financial economics.
- Take computer science coursework. Most professionals use computer software programs to figure out mathematical probabilities and statistics for large-scale projects. Therefore, the BLS recommends that individuals take courses in computer sciences as a way to become more familiar with computer programs and applications. Lower-level computer science classes often discuss programming languages, data sorting and basic control structures.
Step 2: Get Intern Experience
While still in school, individuals may want to consider building experience by participating in internships. Interns often learn some of the basic duties of actuaries, such as gathering data from various sources. As interns gain experience, they also develop professional relationships with actuarial team managers. After interns finish their bachelor's degree programs, their professional relationships with managers could lead to potential job offers.
Step 3: Choose Actuarial Specialty
Although actuarial analysts can work in various settings, most choose to focus on individual actuarial fields. Within the insurance industry, the three most common fields that employ actuarial analysts include property and casualty insurance, medical insurance and life insurance, according to the BLS. Outside of the insurance industry, analysts can choose to specialize in corporate-level financial risk management. Some analysts may prefer working for government organizations, such as the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Additionally, most actuarial analysts choose fields of specialty prior to becoming certified, since each organization only provides certification for certain types of actuaries.
Step 4: Pass Certification Exams
The BLS indicates that employers prefer applicants who have acquired professional certification. Some individuals take certification exams prior to graduating college. Several employers may also offer actuaries financial compensation for becoming certified, according to the BLS. For instance, employers may pay exam fees.
The BLS recognizes two major actuarial societies that offer certification programs. These organizations include the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Each society provides certification to different types of actuaries. SOA certifies actuaries who specialize in life insurance, finance, retirement benefits, health insurance and investments. CAS focuses mainly on professionals who work in the property and casualty fields, including workers' compensation insurance, automobile insurance, medical malpractice and homeowners insurance.
Certification through either of these organizations does not happen quickly. Actuarial analysts have to pass five exams to be certified through SOA, and seven exams to be certified through CAS. Besides exams, certification applicants have to take training courses and participate in other seminars as part of the certification process. According to the BLS, it can take as long as six years to obtain minimal certification with either of these organizations.
Step 5: Obtain Necessary Licensing
Not all actuarial analysts require licenses. Data from the BLS shows that analysts who work as pension actuaries require licensing, since these professionals often work for the federal government. To become licensed, pension actuaries have to be accepted into the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries, and this board is maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor. Prior to board enrollment, actuaries must have the necessary experience, per the BLS. Upon meeting eligibility requirements, professionals still have to pass two different exams before they can be licensed.
Step 6: Renew Certifications and Licenses
According to the BLS, both actuarial societies require certified professionals to maintain their certifications through taking continuing education courses. Both SOA and CAS offer training seminars that count toward recertification. According to the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries, government pension actuaries have to go through a renewal of enrollment process every three years. Part of the process includes paying fees and completing the appropriate continuing education coursework.
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