Difference Between Actuary & Underwriter

Do you have exceptional mathematical, analytical, and business skills? If so, take an in-depth look at what is required to work as an actuary and as an underwriter in the insurance industry.

View popular schools

Comparing Actuaries to Underwriters

Actuaries and underwriters serve a distinct function in the insurance industry. While they both use math to determine and predict risk, their day-to-day duties are quite different. Take an in-depth look at the defining characteristics of both actuaries and underwriters.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Actuary Bachelor's Degree $100,610 18%
Underwriter Bachelor's Degree $67,680 -11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Banking Related Services
  • Credit Management
  • Financial Mgmt Services
  • Financial Planning Services
  • International Finance
  • Investments and Securities
  • Public Finance Mgmt

Responsibilities of Actuaries vs. Underwriters

Individuals who have exceptional math and finance skills will find a great deal of satisfaction in the daily duties of actuaries and underwriters. The primary employers for each role are insurance agencies (including life, health, and property insurance). Employees who work in either roles typically work in offices on a full-time schedule. The big difference between actuaries and underwriters are the tasks they perform. Actuaries use advanced mathematics to help develop insurance policies based on risk, while underwriters process insurance applications, making the final decision as to whether to issue a requested policy.

Actuary

After earning their bachelor's degree and passing their required exams, actuaries are employed by insurance companies to calculate risk and uncertainty. These calculations are then used to develop insurance policies that will ultimately be profitable for the company. Policies are created based on the cost and probability of the occurrence of certain major events. In order to make proper calculations and recommendations, actuaries compile statistical information. They also test their ideas to ensure their calculations and statistics have led to appropriate recommendations.

Duties of an actuary can include the following:

  • Utilizing software to save statistical data
  • Calculating the cost of insurance premiums
  • Presenting findings to company leaders
  • Collaborating with individuals in other positions to make the best possible recommendations

Underwriter

If you have ever applied for a health insurance policy or a homeowner's policy, an underwriter was the person who examined your application, and decided whether or not to extend a policy offer to you. Underwriters typically have a bachelor's degree, with experience in economics, finance, and business serving as a plus. Rather than training in school to become an underwriter, training is most often done on-the-job. In addition to training and education, additional certifications are frequently required by employers (especially for promotions to advanced positions). Crucial skills to possess as an underwriter include attention to detail, mathematical abilities, exceptional interpersonal communication skills, and advanced analytical skills.

Duties of an underwriter can include the following:

  • Evaluating insurance applications to determine risk
  • Using software to help predict risk of applicants
  • Deciding what terms and premiums must be assessed to insurance applicants
  • Ensuring enough applications are approved in order to make sufficient profits

Related Careers

If you are considering a career as an actuary because you enjoy using statistics and analytical skills, you may also enjoy a career as a market research analyst. Alternatively, those who are thinking about a career as an underwriter should also consider a career as a budget analyst.

Market Research Analyst: Job Duties, Requirements & Career Info

Budget Analysts: Job Duties & Career Information

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MS in Finance - Financial Analysis
    • MS in Finance
    • MS in Finance - Financial Planning
    • MBA - Finance
    • MS in Accounting
    • MBA
    • BSFIN in Investments
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • BS in Finance
    • BSFIN in General Finance
    • BS in Business Administration - Financial Analysis
    • BS in Accounting - Managerial Accountancy
    • AAS in Accounting
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • Executive Leader Graduate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • BA: Accounting
    • BA: Business Administration - Management
    • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
    • BA: Business Administration - Marketing
    • AA: Business Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
    • MBA in Finance/Accounting
    • MA in Financial Crime and Compliance Management
    • MBA in General
    • MBA in Insurance & Risk Management
    • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
    • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
    • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accounting
    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Associate of Science in Accounting
    • Associate of Science in Business Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
    • Master of Business Administration - Finance Specialization
    • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Arts in Law - Wealth Management/Financial Planning
    • Master of Business Administration - Finance and Investing
    • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    • Master of Business Administration - Accounting
    • Master of Business Administration
    • Master of Business Administration - General Management
    • Bachelor of Science in Accounting
    • Bachelor of Science in Business
    • Bachelor of Science in Business - Accounting
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Government
    • Bachelor of Arts in Government

    What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?