Difference Between Actuary & Statistician

Actuaries and statisticians are professions that involve gathering and reviewing data that's often used to help make financial decisions. These careers are explored further in this article, including how they differ.

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Comparing Actuaries to Statisticians

Actuaries can earn more money than statisticians and do this faster, since they aren't required to have a graduate degree. Statisticians and actuaries both need strong math skills, but statisticians focus solving problems and can use their skills in business, healthcare or a range of other industries. Actuaries concentrate on assessing financial risks and primarily work in the insurance industry.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Actuaries Bachelor's Degree $100,610 18%
Statisticians Master's Degree $80,500 34%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Actuaries vs. Statisticians

Actuaries and statisticians gather data. They are also responsible for processing the data and performing calculations. They use information to form the basis of recommendations they may make about product costs. Actuaries may help set the price of things like life insurance policies, while statisticians can help manufacturers determine how much to charge for a new appliance. Both actuaries and statisticians are responsible for forming conclusions and presenting their findings to their employers or clients.

Actuaries

Actuaries spend a lot of their time working with mathematical data and they use this data to determine things like how likely it is that a driver of a certain age may be in an accident. The majority of actuaries work in offices during standard business hours. Occasional travel may be necessary for some positions. A bachelor's degree is required to begin a career as an actuary, and with experience it is possible for actuaries to advance to roles in management. Since they work with a lot of data it helps if they are good at paying attention to details.

Job responsibilities of an actuary include:

  • Gathering and assessing relevant data
  • Performing calculations
  • Determining potential financial risks and their likelihood
  • Recommending rates for insurance policies
  • Helping companies make decisions that will reduce financial risks

Statisticians

Statisticians specialize in using data to address practical issues, such as determining how well a product works. To become a statistician it's necessary to study a discipline such as statistics or mathematics, and most positions require applicants to have a master's degree. Statisticians may work for the government or work in research or finance. A doctoral degree is required to pursue a career at a postsecondary institution.

Job responsibilities of a statistician include:

  • Identifying data that's relevant to their work
  • Creating and conducting surveys from people
  • Making polls
  • Processing the data gathered
  • Using the data to form conclusions
  • Making practical recommendations, such as what to charge for products

Related Careers

For those thinking about working as an actuary, another career option is to become a budget analyst. Budget analysts help organizations manage their finances effectively. If you're interested in becoming a statistician you may also be interested in becoming a cost estimator, since they help calculate the costs of labor and materials to set budgets for building projects.

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