Skills Required to Be an Actuary

For actuaries, math and statistics become a crystal ball to evaluate risk.

For actuaries, math and statistics become a crystal ball to evaluate risk.

An actuary uses mathematics and advanced statistics to evaluate and manage risk for her clients. Actuaries work in insurance, investments and as consultants for business mergers and the development of pension plans by taking data and using it to create models that project how different actions taken would be likely to play out. Though traditionally a male-dominated career, actuary is more open than others to women, reports Purdue University.


It goes without saying that actuaries need to be highly proficient in advanced mathematics. The Society of Actuaries recommends having specialized knowledge in calculus, statistics and probability. also recommends courses in college algebra, linear algebra, trigonometry and actuarial mathematics, plus additional courses in numerical analysis. Actuaries use math to help design insurance policies, pension plans and other financial strategies so that these plans can remain sustainable and financially sound.

Business Sense

Actuaries are essential to the insurance industry because they deal with risk management, which means they deal with money. A solid sense of knowing how business works is essential to translating large sets of statistics into information business managers, investors and even employees can use to make decisions. A strong understanding of business subjects such as finance, accounting and economics is vital to being able to do the job of an actuary.

Computer Skills

Gone are the days when advanced mathematics and statistics were worked out on slide rules and in notebooks. Today's risk managers use complex computer programs to assess how situations are likely to unfold. Actuaries, therefore, need to be highly proficient in computer programs and languages. Strong computer skills in creating and deciphering spreadsheets, statistical analysis programs, database manipulation and various programming languages is vital to helping actuaries draw informed conclusions from the knowledge at hand.

Communication Skills

All the advanced mathematics and economics skills in the world will do no good if you cannot translate information into language non-actuaries can understand. Data from actuarial models and tables need to be disseminated to business executives, fund managers, technologists and even everyday people looking into insurance plans for the first time. Top-notch communications skills and the ability to translate dense numbers into useful information for various entities are musts for an actuary.


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