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Jobs Outlook: Actuaries




Employment of actuaries is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Employment opportunities should remain good for those who qualify, because the stringent qualifying examination system restricts the number of candidates. Employment growth in the insurance industry is expected to continue at a stable pace, while more significant job growth is likely in some other industries. In addition, a small number of jobs will open up each year to replace actuaries who leave the occupation to retire or who find new jobs.

Steady demand by the insurance industry—the largest employer of actuaries—should ensure that actuary jobs in this key industry will not decrease over the projection period. Although relatively few new jobs will be created, actuaries will continue to be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks. Recently, employment of actuaries in life insurance had begun to decline, but the growing popularity of annuities, a financial product offered primarily by life insurance companies, has resulted in some job growth in this specialty. Also, new actuarial positions have been created in property-casualty insurance to analyze evolving risks, such as terrorism.

Some new employment opportunities for actuaries should also become available in the health-care field as health-care issues and Medicare reform continue to receive growing attention. Increased regulation of managed health-care companies and the desire to contain health-care costs will continue to provide job opportunities for actuaries, who will also be needed to evaluate the risks associated with new medical issues, such as genetic testing and the impact of new diseases. Others in this field are involved in drafting health-care legislation.

A significant proportion of new actuaries will find employment with consulting firms. Companies that may not find it cost effective to hire their own actuaries are increasingly hiring consulting actuaries to analyze various risks. Other areas with notable growth prospects are information services and accounting services. Also, because actuarial skills are increasingly seen as useful to other industries that deal with risk, such as the airline and the banking industries, additional job openings may be created in these industries.

The best job prospects for entry-level positions will be for those candidates who have passed at least one or two of the initial actuarial exams. Candidates with additional knowledge or experience, such as computer programming skills, will be particularly attractive to employers. Most jobs in this occupation are located in urban areas, but opportunities vary by geographic location. Opportunities should be best in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut—the four States in which about one-third of all actuary jobs are concentrated.