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Actuary Career Growth

An actuary's mathematical and risk management skills are an important part of the insurance industry. These same skills can be applied in other fields, including finance, education, and management. This article looks at four possible career moves for an experienced actuary: financial analyst, financial manager, mathematical science instructor, and statistician.

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Actuary Career Advancement

Actuaries hold a bachelor's degree or higher in actuary science or a similar field of study. Using statistics, financial theory, and mathematics, actuaries help companies minimize financial risks by analyzing the cost of events such as illness, accidents, natural disasters, and death. Actuaries are invaluable to the insurance industry, but their educational background in mathematics, as well as their statistical knowledge and computer savvy, can also serve well in management, finance, or education. With a little growth in their interests or education, experienced actuaries can find themselves in the role of financial analyst, financial manager, mathematical science instructor, or statistician.

Job Title Mean Annual Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-26)* Qualifications
Financial Analyst $100,990 11% CFA or specialty certification
Financial Manager $146,830 19% Master's in finance (or similar degree)
Postsecondary Mathematical Science Instructor $87,140 9% MA/MS in Mathematics or doctorate in mathematics (or similar degree), postsecondary teaching experience, research publication
Statistician $92,600 34% Master's or doctorate in mathematics, statistical programming proficiency

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts provide an important service to the insurance industry as well as to banks and other corporations. Financial analysts often focus on a specific region, product, or industry as they evaluate trends and advise on investment strategies. The minimum educational requirement for a financial analyst is similar to that of an actuary - a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics, or similar field of study - though a master's in finance (or similar) would set an applicant apart from the competition. Certification, such as CFA certification or certification in a field of specialty, is also recommended.

Financial Manager

Financial managers serve as business advisers to corporate executives, analyzing financial data and market trends in order to lower costs and increase profits. An actuary with years of proven experience limiting financial risks and advising on long-term strategies could fit well into the risk manager, insurance manager, or other corporate financial manager role. In addition to understanding financial risk and investment strategies, it is important that financial managers understand their industry's tax laws and financial regulations. Also, while the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor's degree in mathematics or other related field, employers often ask for a master's in finance or similar degree. A CFA, CPA, or Certified Treasury Professional certification, though not a requirement, could also set an applicant above the rest.

Mathematical Science Instructor

Experienced actuaries who enjoy teaching and research may wish to continue their education toward the goal of becoming a postsecondary mathematical science instructor. College and university teachers in this field instruct students in actuarial science, statistics, and other advanced mathematics. A teaching load can either be focused on instruction or divided between instruction and research. Some postsecondary institutions also provide opportunities for tenure. Minimum requirements for a mathematical science teacher include an MS or MA in Mathematics, though some universities seek faculty with a doctorate in mathematics or related degree as well as postsecondary teaching experience. Schools with a focus on research also look for a history of research and publication.

Statistician

An actuary with a love for mathematical concepts and statistical models may enjoy a career as a statistician. Statisticians work in fields such as engineering, healthcare, or science, analyzing data to solve tangible problems. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for statisticians is estimated to grow 34% between 2016 and 2026. Requirements for this in-demand job include a master's or doctoral degree in mathematics (though some government jobs may only require a bachelor's degree), as well as statistical programming and communication skills.

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