Actuaries work mainly in the insurance industry however, there are positions in private corporations, banks, labor unions, colleges and universities, and with government. An actuary evaluates financial consequences of future events, such as natural disasters, with an emphasis on ensuring cost reduction and damage control when faced with unfavorable financial outcomes. Students must complete internships and pass more than 15 hours of preliminary exams proctored by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA) to gain entry-level employment. (Actuarial employers usually require that individuals have passed at least two of the exams.) Insurance, risk management, calculus, derivative securities, simulation, and probability are the exam topics.
A bachelor's degree is the typical degree choice for this career; most students do not pursue graduate studies. Students will learn how to evaluate the likelihood of future events by using numbers, designing creative ways to reduce the likelihood of undesirable events, and decreasing the impact of undesirable events that do occur. Coursework will be in finance, micro and macroeconomics, computer science, technical writing, political science, calculus, and statistics. The median annual wage for actuarial scientists in May 2010 was $87,650.
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