What Types of Actuaries are there?
The following information is provided by the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana has one of the largest accredited actuarial programs in the country. To view information on their actuarial program, please click here.
About half of all actuaries work for insurance companies. Most of these work for life and health insurers, but a growing percentage are working for auto and property insurers. Actuaries who work for insurance companies perform many duties, including data research and setting premium rates. Think your paying too much for your auto insurance? Blame an actuary.
About one third of all actuaries work for consulting firms. Most of these actuaries deal with employee benefits and perform duties such as advising corporations how to manage their pension and compensation plans. There are also other consulting opportunities available, including property/casualty consulting.
All companies are different, so generalizations about the differences between life, casualty, and consulting positions are just that--generalizations; they may not hold true for all companies. Insurance vs. Consulting--In general, insurance actuaries work fewer hours and have less job stress than their consulting counterparts. Consultants usually make more money, and have interaction with clients. Life vs. Casualty--It is more difficult to draw a distinction between life and casualty. If you enjoy MATH 210,371,& 372, life may be for you. If you prefer ECON 102 and FIN 254, you may prefer casualty. It is a good idea to look at the SOA exam syllabus and the CAS exam syllabus to see which syllabus material seems more interesting to you.
Because the actuarial profession is so versatile, there are many other positions for which actuaries are good candidates. Many actuaries work for state governments in a regulatory role. These actuaries often watch over the work of the insurance actuaries to make sure that insurance rates are not too high. The recent risk assessment craze in Washington D.C. has provided many experienced actuaries with the opportunity to perform cost-benefit analyses on both existing and proposed regulations. Some actuaries also find their way into investment banking, underwriting, or education.