Actuaries create risk assessment profiles for individual clients or corporations. Their duties include writing insurance policies, managing investments, and administering retirement plans that will minimize the financial impact of a potential risk. The title of actuarial associate is a designation within the profession indicating one has passed specific examinations in the field. Many actuaries spend most of their working hours sitting in an office, and some jobs require traveling.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Business, statistics, mathematics, or finance|
|Certification||Certification is required|
|Experience||Many employers require experience|
|Key Skills||Written and verbal communication, computer, and problem-solving skills; proficiency with statistical and spreadsheet software|
|Salary (2015)||$110,560 per year (Average salary for all actuaries); those with the associate actuary designation may earn more|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, various job postings (November 2012)
Now let's walk through the steps toward becoming an associate actuary.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
In order to become an actuary, a candidate must have an undergraduate degree. An individual seeking to become an actuary typically has a bachelor's degree in actuarial science, statistics, or mathematics. The candidate may also opt for a degree in economics or finance. Aspiring actuaries should know how to use statistical and spreadsheet computer software programs, so courses in computer science are also recommended.
Gain Professional Certification
An associate actuary designation indicates that a candidate has passed a series of exams, as well as maintaining continuing education and attending required seminars. Generally, actuaries can reach the associate level within four to six years. An actuary needs to be certified by a professional society sponsor program in order to achieve full professional status within their chosen specialty. The Society of Actuaries certifies actuaries in finance, investment, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement systems. The Casualty Actuarial Society certifies actuaries in the areas of property and casualty by testing candidates about personal injury liability, home and automobile insurance, medical malpractice, and workers compensation.
Obtain Fellowship Certification
After achieving associate actuary status, the next level of designation is the fellowship level. This level is attained through exams, continuing education, and experience. It takes an actuarial associate approximately two to three years to reach the fellowship level of professional designation. Actuaries can complete this professional certification while working. Employers often provide study time and pay the examination fees for actuaries seeking to advance in their careers. An increase in pay is common after passing fellowship exams.
Gain Experience and Pursue Advancement
Eventually, it's possible for an actuarial associate to move into executive positions within a company, such as chief financial officer or chief risk officer. In a position of this nature, actuaries are in charge of the risk assessment for an entire organization. Alternatively, they might advance in other managerial positions within a company, such as accounting, underwriting, or data processing. Actuaries can find employment on the faculty of colleges and universities, and they can open their own consulting firms.
Becoming an actuarial associate requires a bachelor's degree in or related to actuarial science, and you must pass a series of exams to obtain the associate designation.