Actuary How to Hire, Salary Data, and Job Descriptions

An actuary is someone who is essentially the eyes, ears, brains, and foreshadower of a business. It is their job to assess and analyze business data, markets, historical market catastrophes, financial theories, and more in order to steer a business in the right direction for potential growth. They are paramount to helping a business avoid pitfalls and continue on a growth trajectory. 

Actuaries deal constantly with risk, and they need to be extremely knowledgeable with the market that they’re working in. Because this is a risk position, it often requires a lot of experience. The ideal candidate for becoming an actuary will be level-headed, strong-willed, and willing to take risks that are calculated.

Sample job description #1

ABC Company is seeking a self-motivated and creative individual with a strong desire to work with Product Management and other teams to bring statistical rigor and analysis into everyday processes. The ideal candidate will have a strong business sense and a proven track record of generating new ideas across an organization and implementing those into current operations.

The individual in this position supports the Actuarial Manager and team by identifying business issues, performing analysis to understand the drivers of the issues, and making recommendations to improve overall business results. This includes performing analysis within a designated business segment to assess reserves and profitability of the segment as well as financial planning.

Responsibilities

  • Conduct indications analysis, working with Product Managers to assess and forecast impacts of product, market, and economic changes on profitability and rate need
  • Collaborate with Finance and Product to forecast premiums and losses, assessing the expected variability in those forecasts
  • Conduct reserving analysis, using both traditional and non-traditional methods, develop new methods and incorporate them as warranted
  • Model weather events, economic changes and/or business mix changes, and their impact on reserves and rate need
  • Estimate the impact of claim practices and business mix changes on reserves and reserve variability, develop and analyze key metrics and exhibits to facilitate this estimation
  • Effectively communicate results of analysis to peers and senior management across the organization, both in writing and in presentations
  • Maintain an external network within the insurance industry to track emerging trends and approaches to business issues
  • Provide supervision and training to actuarial interns and junior staff
  • Serve as a mentor to other department members on aspects of project work, insurance, and general business knowledge

Qualifications

  • FCAS or near-FCAS with recent success at passing exams and desire to achieve FCAS
  • 4-6+ years of work experience in analyzing P&C insurance with practical application of statistical techniques and models
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, allowing effective interaction with colleagues and executives
  • Excellent statistical, programming, and data management skills
  • Strong project management skills to carry ideas through to completion

Sample job description #2

Duties and responsibilities

  • Apply advanced actuarial techniques across all tasks
  • Assist management to maintain pricing discipline appropriate to meet company goals and assure pricing fairness across membership
  • Develop and maintain various actuarial/financial models and excel spreadsheets to adequately complete analyses
  • Coordinate with external actuary and auditing firms for interim and annual actuarial information
  • Maintain appropriate participation in industry groups to keep abreast of changes in law and maintain appropriate external relationships
  • Assist management to develop annual production goals
  • Provide claims and profitability history, perspective and analysis to reinsurers, auditors, actuaries, and other professionals as required
  • Provide management with regular statistical information and reports concerning the company’s performance
  • Understand and comply with all company policies and procedures
  • Complete in-depth review of actuarial reserve report underlying the company reserve opinion
  • Work with management to understand material case reserve changes
  • Communicate results to management
  • Work with management on reinsurance renewal process
  • Work with Data Analyst to develop and maintain actuarial, profitability, and other reports as needed throughout the company

Skills and abilities

  • Ability to apply sound actuarial principles and maintain actuarial qualifications in compliance with regulations
  • Ability to apply practical information learned about the practices of the company to actuarial analysis and recommendations
  • Ability to clearly provide support for analyses and reasoned rationales for recommendations to management
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Capacity to manage multiple tasks in response to both written and verbal requests
  • High level of diplomacy and tact, combined with a strong sense of confidentiality
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, including ability to prepare clear and concise program documentation, user procedures, reports of work performed, and other written materials
  • Strategic thinker able to provide leadership about practical applications of current trends in information technology, computer hardware, and software capabilities and limitations
  • Strong listener, who translates user needs into operational applications
  • Competent ability to request and analyze relevant data and recommend tactical and strategic action
  • Team player with ability to motivate and positively engage colleagues and management
  • Able to address trends in information technology, computer hardware, and software capabilities and limitations
  • Expert knowledge of principles and practices of commercial insurance actuarial science
  • Expertise in Microsoft WORD, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook
  • A power user of Excel. Preferable to have some expertise in VBA
  • Working knowledge of SQL and relational databases and is proficient at working with large data sets

Experience

  • 5 years multi-line actuarial experience
  • Prior experience working at a senior leadership level reporting to a CFO strongly preferred

Education

  • A.S. or B.S. degree in Mathematics, Statistics, Actuarial Science, or related field
  • CAS Designation

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for an actuary is $108,000 per year in the United States. Compensation will vary based on experience, geography, industry, and company size.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$107,400$145,300
Los Angeles, California$121,200$163,950
Denver, Colorado$100,100$136,600
Washington, DC$123,000$166,400
Miami, Florida$100,500$136,000
Orlando, Florida$92,700$125,450
Tampa, Florida$93,650$126,700
Atlanta, Georgia$98,250$132,900
Chicago, Illinois$112,900$152,750
Boston, Massachusetts$122,100$165,200
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$97,300$131,650
New York City, New York$128,500$173,900
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$104,650$141,600
Dallas, Texas$101,900$137,850
Houston, Texas$101,450$137,250
Seattle, Washington$117,500$158,950
National Average$91,800$124,200

Sample interview questions

  • What caused you to apply for this job?
  • What skills would you say are the most important as an actuary?
  • What does your daily routine look like?
  • What do you enjoy most about being an actuary?
  • Which statistical software have you used in the past? Which one do you enjoy using the most?
  • Can you tell us what an actuarial table is? Why are they useful?
  • How do you keep up to date on business trends?
  • Can you tell us about a time when you had a major challenge? And how did you solve it?
  • What keeps you motivated?
  • What would you say is your greatest strength? What about your weakness?
  • Would you say you are a team player?
  • Do you have any certifications that are applicable to an actuary?
  • Why should we hire you instead of the other candidates?

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