ACTUARY SALARY IN THE UNITED STATES (Updated!)

actuary salary

An actuarial job can provide a lot of professional satisfaction and pride. For those with a knack for arithmetic and an interest in statistics, a career in actuarial science can be a profitable and inventive alternative. Actuaries must also be proficient in analysis, accounting, and finance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be 30,000 actuary positions in the United States in 2028.
This page discusses actuary salary expectations and employment projections starting from the entry level to the mid career levels. The sections that follow look at the top states for actuary salaries, as well as statistics for related occupations and resources for actuarial science students and practitioners.

What is an Actuary?

Actuarial science is a discipline that measures, manages, and mitigates financial risk and uncertainty using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory. Actuaries are critical to the insurance industry, and they are increasingly finding opportunities in other industries.

Types of Actuaries

Actuaries work in the following fields:

  • banking
  • finance for corporations
  • management of investments
  • Life, health, and general insurance.
  • Pensions.

Responsibilities of an Actuary

Specific responsibilities vary, but your work may include the following:

  • To price commercial insurance, mathematical modeling techniques and statistical ideas are used to calculate probability and analyze hazards, such as analyzing pension system liabilities.
  • Using statistical data to determine, for example, accident rates for specific groups of persons
  • Making new financial goods
  • Putting together presentations, reports, evaluations, and quarterly updates
  • Monitoring risks within trading positions in investment banking to ensure that excessive risks are not incurred during the quick pace of trading.
  • Presenting findings to managers and directors, explaining their ramifications, and advising on risk management
  • Advise on matters such as investment manager selection and pension and benefit administration
  • Collaborating with IT specialists to design systems to assure regulatory body compliance
  • Relationship management which entails communicating with clients such as investment managers, financial directors, and external stakeholders.
  • Staff supervision
  • Assisting with mergers and acquisitions

What is the Average Actuary Salary?

Based on 103 salaries, an entry-level Actuary with less than one year of experience can expect to make an average total compensation (tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $63,257. Based on 259 salaries, an early career Actuary with 1-4 years of experience makes an average total salary of $80,126. Also, based on 288 salaries, a mid-career Actuary with 5-9 years of experience makes an average total salary of $109,828. Based on 172 salaries, an experienced Actuary with 10-19 years of experience gets an average total salary of $125,282. Employees in their late-career (20 years and up) earn an average total salary of $145,994.

Median Actuary Salary

Actuaries earn a median annual salary of $102,880, according to the BLS. Earning potential, on the other hand, is determined by an individual’s level of education and experience. Salary is also affected by geographical location. Professionals in high-cost-of-living locations with strong demand for actuaries often earn more.

An actuary’s average salary might be more than double as they gain professional experience. According to PayScale, actuaries with less than a year of experience make an average annual salary of $59,830. Professionals with 1-4 years of experience make an annual salary of $74,969 on average. Actuaries earn an average of $120,494 per year after working for 10 to 19 years.


EXPERIENCE
SALARY
< 1 Year$59,830
1-4 Years$74,969
5-9 Years$104,244
10-19 Years$120,494

Actuary Salary Structure Based on Degree

The majority of actuaries have a bachelor’s degree in finance, business, or accounting. Although no degree promises a precise salary, obtaining a master’s degree can boost earning potential. The table below depicts typical earnings for finance professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Salary for a Finance Degree

  • Bachelor’s Degree – $73,000 is the average salary.
  • Master’s Diploma – $101,000 is the average salary.

Many professionals keep the title of actuary for the rest of their careers. Actuaries earn an average annual salary of $87,648 according to PayScale. However, skilled actuaries can advance to positions of leadership, such as chief actuary. As shown in the table below, chief actuaries make significantly more than actuaries.


POTENTIAL NEXT STEP
SALARY
Actuary$87,648
Chief Actuary$170,720

Actuary Salaries by Industry

While the insurance business employs the majority of actuaries, it is not one of the top five industries for actuary salary. Insurance-related firms and brokerages, on the other hand, are the fifth highest-paying industry. The greatest mean salary is earned by actuaries working in business, professional, labor, political, and similar groups. The following are a few of the most popular industries for actuaries.

INDUSTRYANNUAL MEAN WAGE
Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations$155,490
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)$129,990
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services$126,610
Scientific Research and Development Services$125,290
Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance-Related Activities$121,480

Historical Career Development

Actuary positions have historically increased significantly. In 2016, there were 19,940 actuary occupations in the United States, according to the BLS. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 20,760 actuary posts in 2018. Furthermore, the number of actuaries employed grew in numerous states between 2016 and 2018:

  • In Ohio, the number of actuaries climbed from 990 to 1,560.
  • The number of actuaries in Illinois went from 1,590 to 1,950.

Future Career Development

The BLS forecasts a 20% increase in employment for actuaries between 2018 and 2028, which is much higher than the national average for all occupations. One of the largest expected job growths among the approximately 800 positions covered by BLS data is an actuary.

The Top States for Job Creation

Many factors influence each state’s predicted growth for actuaries. The occurrence of winter weather-related accidents in mountainous areas may affect Colorado’s actuarial growth rate, which is the highest in the country. Low location quotients may contribute to the predicted growth rate for actuaries in Iowa.

  • Colorado: Change of 37% from 2016 to 2026
  • North Carolina (NC): Change of 35.9 percent from 2016 to 2026
  • Puerto Rico: Change of 33.3% from 2016 to 2026
  • Iowa: Change of 32.8% from 2016 to 2026
  • Texas: Change of 31.7% from 2016 to 2026

Skills Influencing Actuary Salary

Your salary might be affected by your talents. The most common actuary skills and their impact on salary are listed below.

  • Risk Control / Risk Management: 9%
  • Product Creation: 17.7%
  • Accounting and Reporting: 16%
  • Python: 12%
  • Insurance: 4%
  • Pricing: 2%
  • Consultation on Risk: 1%

Actuary Salary Comparisons

We need some numbers to compare the actuarial salary to before we can compare it to anything.

Take a look at a typical life insurance actuary. These are the most prevalent categories of actuaries, with average pay in the center of the pack. Property and casualty actuaries often earn significantly more, while pension actuaries earn less.

Using this actuarial salary survey and assuming that the actuary starts working with two tests completed (which is realistic) and passes 1-2 exams per year, a suitable salary might be:

Actuary Salary by study hours

As a result, this is what will be used to make the comparisons. Everyone’s salary trajectory will be different, but this is entirely doable.

Salary of an Actuary vs. Time Spent Working and Studying

One technique to determine whether or not an actuary makes a good living is to compare the quantity of time you put in (hours of work) to the amount of money you make (a salary).

Becoming an actuary necessitates a significant amount of time and work. You must put in hundreds of hours of study time in addition to your typical 9-5 work hours. Most of that will be done on your own time, thus it will be unpaid.

Calculating Study Hours

In the preceding salary forecast, I assumed that the actuary got a fellowship in year 7, therefore he spent his own time studying for actuarial examinations for the first seven years.

To become completely qualified, actuaries must pass a total of ten tests. Because our sample actuary began his career with two examinations under his belt, he completed eight exams while working.

We may predict that he will need to study for each exam for 300 hours. Assume he fails two examinations along the road, which is understandable (and maybe even a bit low).

So, with 8 examinations to pass and 2 failures, he wrote 10 exams in 7 years. Do you still want to come with me?

That indicates he studied for 10 x 300 = 3000 hours for the first 7 years. This translates to approximately 430 hours of study per year.

Breakdown of Actuarial Hourly Salary

In the first year, the actuary earns $58,000. That equates to around $30 per hour. That is based on a 261-day work week, 7.5-hour days, and no overtime.

If we include the 430 study hours in his salary (since those are technically hours spent keeping your job), that comes out to $24 per hour.

So, do you consider $24 an hour in your first year to be a good wage? There is no such thing as right or wrong. It’s all a matter of opinion.

Remember that this does not include commute time or lunch breaks, which are obligatory in some organizations, so after all of this, you may be spending roughly 1-2 hours every workday on work-related duties that you are not compensated for.

Let’s do the same thing for year 6.

The actuary earns $135K per year or roughly $70 per hour.

If we factor in the 430 study hours for the year, that comes to $57 per hour. So, do you think that’s decent money? Again, there is no right or wrong answer here; it is simply one interpretation of “good money.”

When considering this, keep in mind that you put in 3-5 years of your time to obtain your bachelor’s degree. That time is not even taken into account in this breakdown.

Actuary Salary vs. Average American Salary

Because salary grows with experience, duration, and the number of actuarial examinations completed, we may also assess if actuaries make a good living in comparison to their average American counterparts of the same age.

Here is a chart comparing the average American salary (numbers derived from this post) to the salary of our sample actuary. We will assume that our actuary began his job at the age of 23.

As you can see, our sample entry-level actuary who begins working immediately after receiving a bachelor’s degree earns roughly double the average 2017 American salary.

By the time he reaches the age of 30, he will be earning nearly four times (quadruple) the average American salary.

He earns almost 4.3 times the average American salary once he reaches the age of 42 and beyond.

So, do you think this is decent money? Remember that actuaries are likely to devote far more time to education than the average American to do their duties.

Actuary Salary vs. Similar Career Salaries

The third technique to determine whether or not actuaries make a good living is to compare their pay to that of other similar jobs.

Accountants, data analysts, and underwriters are a few vocations that are frequently associated with actuaries. Let’s see how their pay compares to that of our hypothetical actuary.

Accountant Salary vs. Actuary Salary

Let’s start by contrasting the salaries of an accountant and an actuary. This website’s accountant salary was interpreted by me.

As you can see, our model actuary’s salary is higher than the average accountant’s salary during the course of his career. Keep in mind that this isn’t always a CPA. CPAs typically make more than the average accountant.

He earns almost 134 percent of the accountant’s salary in his first year. Accountants, like actuaries, must write tests, however, most would argue that accounting exams are easier than actuarial exams.

When our sample actuary reaches the age of 30, he earns approximately 3.27 times more than the accountant.

And by the time he’s 42, he’ll be earning roughly 3.91 times more than the accountant.

Salary of a Data Analyst vs. an Actuary Salary

Let’s now compare our actuary’s salary to that of a normal data analyst. I analyzed the data on analyst wages from the same website, which you can see here.

atuary salary

Again, according to the above-mentioned source, the average salary of a data analyst is less than that of our actuary during the course of his career.

This comparison shows that our sample actuary earns anywhere from 123 percent to 325 percent more than the average actuarial analyst.

To be honest, I was surprised to learn that data analyst pay was higher than accountant salaries because data analysts do not (usually) need to write examinations or obtain any type of certification.

Salary of an Actuary vs. Underwriter Salary

Finally, we shall compare the salary of underwriters to that of actuaries. The underwriter wages on this page were interpreted by me.

actuary salary

Our sample actuary’s salary is still much higher than the underwriter’s average salary in all years. Underwriters, like actuaries, must complete a series of exams. However, they are unlikely to be as challenging as actuarial tests.

Starting, our sample actuary earns around 128 percent of what the underwriter does. By the 20th year of each of their respective professions, the actuary earns roughly 300 percent of the underwriter’s annual salary.

Overall Evaluation about Other Careers

It’s safe to conclude that the actuarial profession’s salary far exceeds those of these other comparable jobs. However, as I noted in some of the preceding reasons, actuaries are likely to have put in a lot more time (through study hours) to achieve these wages.

So, do actuaries make a good living based on these comparisons? It is entirely up to you to make that decision! But I hope this information has been useful and helpful in making your own decision.

How do Actuaries differ from other Accounting Professions?

Actuarial vocations make competitive wages and have good job growth prospects when compared to other accounting careers. According to the BLS, actuaries earn a median annual salary of $102,880 – much more than several other accounting professionals:

  • ACCOUNTANTS AND AUDITORS: $70,500
  • ANALYSTS OF BUDGETS: $76,220
  • FINANCIAL ANALYSTS: $85 660

Similarly, the BLS predicts that employment growth for actuaries will be substantially above average, at 20% between 2018 and 2028. This growth rate compares favorably to that of comparable occupations.

ACCOUNTANTS AND AUDITORS 6 %

ANALYSTS OF BUDGETS4 PERCENTAGE

6 PERCENTAGE OF FINANCIAL ANALYSTS

Learn more about Actuary Salary and Job Development

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes a nationwide median actuary salary as well as job growth estimates. In addition, the BLS provides reports on regional location quotients, employment, and salary data.
  • Indeed.com: This is a well-known online employment board that provides detailed salary profiles for a wide range of occupations. The average wages for actuaries at prominent companies such as Liberty Mutual are included in salary profiles.
  • PayScale: This site offers salary information to both businesses and job seekers. Salary data for specific areas and degrees, as well as salary profiles for several occupations, are available on the website.
  • Central Projections Estimates: Central collects the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ short-term and long-term job growth projections into a searchable database. Users can find projections for individual states using the Projections Central search engine.
  • Salary.com: This website provides actuary salary data as well as housing expenses for key cities, typical remuneration packages, and recent job vacancies. The blog on the website offers advice on themes such as professional development.

What Is the Average Actuary Salary by State

StateAnnual SalaryMonthly PayWeekly PayHourly Wage
Massachusetts$136,214$11,351$2,620$65.49
Hawaii$135,821$11,318$2,612$65.30
Rhode Island$131,031$10,919$2,520$63.00
North Dakota$128,648$10,721$2,474$61.85
Alaska$128,067$10,672$2,463$61.57
Nevada$127,056$10,588$2,443$61.08
Washington$126,949$10,579$2,441$61.03
South Dakota$124,891$10,408$2,402$60.04
New York$124,351$10,363$2,391$59.78
Oregon$123,481$10,290$2,375$59.37
Maryland$122,467$10,206$2,355$58.88
Kansas$122,401$10,200$2,354$58.85
Nebraska$120,199$10,017$2,312$57.79
New Hampshire$120,118$10,010$2,310$57.75
Virginia$118,622$9,885$2,281$57.03
Colorado$115,720$9,643$2,225$55.63
South Carolina$115,710$9,643$2,225$55.63
Mississippi$114,748$9,562$2,207$55.17
Delaware$114,555$9,546$2,203$55.07
California$114,490$9,541$2,202$55.04
Missouri$114,343$9,529$2,199$54.97
Vermont$113,067$9,422$2,174$54.36
Oklahoma$111,715$9,310$2,148$53.71
Kentucky$111,610$9,301$2,146$53.66
Wyoming$111,417$9,285$2,143$53.57
Connecticut$110,928$9,244$2,133$53.33
Arkansas$109,042$9,087$2,097$52.42
Michigan$108,499$9,042$2,087$52.16
Illinois$108,452$9,038$2,086$52.14
West Virginia$108,084$9,007$2,079$51.96
Idaho$107,372$8,948$2,065$51.62
New Jersey$106,766$8,897$2,053$51.33
Maine$106,519$8,877$2,048$51.21
Pennsylvania$106,255$8,855$2,043$51.08
Montana$105,912$8,826$2,037$50.92
Arizona$104,823$8,735$2,016$50.40
Minnesota$104,657$8,721$2,013$50.32
Tennessee$104,450$8,704$2,009$50.22
Indiana$104,151$8,679$2,003$50.07
Texas$103,805$8,650$1,996$49.91
Wisconsin$103,754$8,646$1,995$49.88
Ohio$103,695$8,641$1,994$49.85
Utah$102,528$8,544$1,972$49.29
Louisiana$101,498$8,458$1,952$48.80
Georgia$101,121$8,427$1,945$48.62
Iowa$100,165$8,347$1,926$48.16
Alabama$98,755$8,230$1,899$47.48
North Carolina$98,602$8,217$1,896$47.41
New Mexico$98,552$8,213$1,895$47.38
Florida$95,308$7,942$1,833$45.82
Top 50 States with the Highest Paying Actuary Jobs in the U.S.
Read Also: Mortgage Banker Salary: What it is and Salary Details

We found 11 states where the average salary for an Actuary job is higher than the national average. Massachusetts tops the list, with Hawaii and Rhode Island close behind in second and third place. Rhode Island outperforms the national average by 7.0 percent, while Massachusetts follows suit by an additional $13,812 (11.3 percent) above the national average of $122,402.

With these 11 states paying more than the national average, the chances for economic success as an Actuary appear to be extremely fruitful.

Qualifications as an Actuary

Although this field is open to all graduates with good math skills, the degree subjects listed below may improve your chances:

  • Actuarial science is also known as actuarial mathematics.
  • Finance or business
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Statistics or mathematics
  • Risk administration
  • Science, such as physics and chemistry

The majority of UK entrants to the IFoA are first or second-class honors graduates. Graduates must have at least a B in A-level mathematics and a C in another A-level subject.

Employers often seek a 2:1 or higher, preferably in a numerate field like mathematics, statistics, or economics. Other qualifications, including those from outside the UK and Ireland, can be reviewed with the IFoA’s admissions team. Entry with only an HND is quite rare.

A degree, postgraduate diploma, or MSc in actuarial science may relieve you from essential technical studies and allow you to qualify in less time. Exemptions are also allowed if you have studied a numerical degree such as mathematics or economics, as long as the modules include some focus on statistics and probability. A list of organizations that may offer postgraduate study sponsorship can be found in the Directory of Actuarial Employers.

You can also look for postgraduate courses in actuarial science.

The IFoA offers the Certificate in Financial Mathematics (CT1) to non-members such as university students and persons working in financial services. It’s a good starting to start if you’re thinking about becoming an actuary. The exam also contributes to the completion of the professional certification.

Actuarial Skills

You’ll need the following skills:

  • A high level of arithmetic
  • Excellent communication abilities, especially the ability to express complicated information to clients
  • Analytical, research, and problem-solving abilities
  • IT abilities
  • Ability to provide concise reports
  • Capacity to accept responsibility
  • Exceptional interpersonal, interpersonal, and listening skills
  • Strong sense of teamwork
  • Self-discipline, commitment, and an understanding of the challenges of learning while working
  • Solid commercial judgment and a genuine interest in the industry
  • Dedication to an actuarial career

Work Experience as an Actuary

Although prior experience is not required, talking to people who are already in the profession and gaining some work experience would be extremely beneficial. For students interested in becoming actuaries, certain companies provide work placements or internships.

Internships and placements may be beneficial in obtaining a graduate career, although this is dependant on the organization. Approach professionals at employment fairs or inquire about work shadowing opportunities when possible.

Employers

The majority of trainees begin their careers in the financial services business, particularly in established employment categories such as insurance and pensions.

This indicates you’ll most likely work for an insurance company or a consulting firm. At an insurance company, you always have one client in mind: your employer. In general, you’ll work in one area before moving on to another. Life insurance, medical and health insurance, and general, personal, house, and auto insurance are all examples of insurance work.

The work in a consulting firm will be more varied daily. You’ll most likely deal with a variety of clients to solve various difficulties. Pensions, risk management, mergers and acquisitions, corporate recovery, asset management, and liability management are all services provided by financial consultancies.

Depending on the nature and size of the organization, career opportunities differ. Investigate the companies included in the Directory of Actuarial Employers to obtain a thorough grasp of the work involved in each field.

The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) is an independent actuarial consulting firm that works for the government. Their work includes advising public sector organizations in the United Kingdom and around the world on insurance-related issues, including the regulation and supervision of insurance businesses.

Actuary Salary FAQ’s

Do actuaries make a lot of money?

Fully qualified actuaries can earn $150,000 or more per year, thus most people would agree that actuaries make a solid living.

Is it hard to be an actuary?

However, unlike doctors or attorneys, actuaries must complete a series of challenging tests known as Actuarial Exams to be properly accredited. These are quite difficult. It’s quite difficult. The preliminary tests are 3 hours long and consist of 30-35 multiple choice questions, with a pass rate of 30-40%.

Are actuaries in demand?

Actuaries’ employment is expected to expand 24 percent between 2020 and 2030, substantially faster than the average for all occupations. On average, 2,400 actuarial job opportunities are expected per year during the next decade.

How many hours do actuaries work?

According to Ford, actuaries often work 40 to 50 hours each week.

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