The field of actuarial mathematics and science is among the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees. It’s also a more varied field than many people believe. Actuarial science is the mathematical and statistical study of the financial consequences of risk. It’s no wonder, given this focus on risk, that people tend to equate actuarial science with the insurance industry. More than 70 percent of actuaries work in some area of the insurance and finance industry, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, this means more than one-quarter of the profession finds work in other industries, and a good chunk of that majority employed in insurance and finance works on the finance side of the field.
Actuaries in Finance and Financial Services Careers
Sure, the insurance industry deals with risk a lot. Still, it’s far from the only industry that does so, according to BeAnActuary.org, the actuarial career planning site launched in partnership with the Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society.
Many actuaries find work opportunities that relate to finance in a variety of different ways, according to the Society of Actuaries. You could work in the banking and financial services industry, where you would use your knowledge of actuarial mathematics to help banks analyze the risks of investments, manage capital and develop product portfolios.
Actuaries also work in wealth management and financial planning. In this role, they perform a similar function of using their knowledge of calculating risk for the purposes of financial investments. Rather than working for a bank or an insurance company, though, they work for firms that provide financial investment planning and wealth management services to individuals. If you want to get even deeper into the field of financial investments, you might look for an actuarial opportunity for investments and fund management, where you will regularly work in matters like structured finance, derivatives structuring and asset risks and management
Some actuaries in the finance field focus on retirement financing, while others emphasize pension planning and funding.
Actuaries in the Business World
Risk is also a part of life for businesses in just about any industry. That means job opportunities for actuaries exist everywhere from the air travel industry to the oil and gas industries, BeAnActuary.org reported. Actuaries in business serve many different functions. They may help a corporation manage its operational risks in an enterprise risk management role or find work in, or assisting, a company’s senior management, helping the company to make business decisions based on data.
An actuary who works in sales and marketing may perform different roles that can range from using data to decide how to target an audience for digital advertising to determining the policies and compensation levels for sales personnel who are paid on commission. Actuaries can work in consulting roles in which they are hired by a business to evaluate financial risks and recommend ways to manage or reduce those risks. Although consulting actuaries often focus on matters of insurance and employee benefits (including health and life insurance), this isn’t always the case.
Professionals known as “entrepreneurial actuaries” operate their own business that draws from their mathematical skills in some way, according to the Society of Actuaries. One percent of actuaries in the United States are self-employed, the BLS reported.
Actuaries and the Environment
What do the mathematical calculations of financial risk have to do with climate change and environmental protection? You might be surprised.
Climate change plays a big part in insurance. A flood, hurricane or other natural disaster can lead insurance claims – homeowners, life, health and even auto – so actuaries carefully study matters of climate change and weather and environmental risks. If the risk of an insurance event in an area is on the rise, that naturally impacts the financial risk of covering such an event.
In fields outside of the insurance industry, actuaries can play more direct roles in environmental causes. There’s a whole field of actuarial work in environmental finance that revolves around using financial techniques to address environmental problems, according to the Society of Actuaries. An actuary may work in fields like energy consulting, including analyzing the risks and long-term projections involved in investing in renewable energy sources, according to The Actuary, a magazine published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Another environmental role for actuaries is to analyze opportunities for green or sustainable investments.
Besides the insurance and finance industry, the top employers for actuaries are professional, scientific and technical services, management and government, the BLS reported.