Insurance & Superannuation
Actuaries analyse the financial costs of risk and uncertainty using mathematics, statistics, and financial theory.
Bachelor's degree + professional registration
What does an Actuary do?
Actuaries analyse the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimise the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry.
As an actuary, you would work with companies, public bodies and government departments to help them forecast long-term financial costs and potential risks to investments.
Your typical tasks would be to:
- analyse statistics, for example accident rates or medical data
- forecast future financial positions based on different scenarios
- assess the risks involved
- use computers to build mathematical and statistical models
- explain findings to managers, ministers or business clients
- keep up to date with the financial and business worlds.
You could work in any of the following settings:
- life assurance, insurance or superannuation - designing policies and calculating premium rates
- consultancy - advising clients on major financial risks such as investment funds or company takeovers
- government - actuaries working in government advise government departments on the costs of social security benefits, state pensions and healthcare.
You would work closely with other professionals such as insurance underwriters, investment managers and accountants.
Key skills and interests
To become an actuary you would need:
- advanced skills in maths and statistics
- the ability to research, analyse and interpret data
- excellent spoken, written and presentation communication skills
- the ability to explain complex information
- good business sense and sound judgement
- a logical approach to problem-solving.
Working hours and conditions
You would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, although you may need to be flexible. Part-time work and job sharing, once qualified, may also be available.
The work is mainly office-based, but you may travel to visit clients.
During training, it is common to spend up to 15 hours a week studying for professional exams as well as working full-time.
How to become an Actuary?
Entry Level Education
To become an actuary you usually have to study actuarial studies or actuarial science at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English and mathematics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
To become a fully qualified actuary, you must obtain a Fellowship of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia by satisfactorily completing its examinations and a recognised professionalism course.
Employment of actuaries is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because this is a small and specialised occupation, the fast growth will result in a modest increase in the actual number of jobs available.
Actuaries will be needed to develop, price, and evaluate a variety of insurance products and calculate the costs of new risks. More actuaries will be needed in property and casualty insurance to evaluate the risks to properties and communities vulnerable to more frequent and powerful adverse weather events. More actuaries will also be needed to help companies manage their own risk, a practice known as enterprise risk management.