The Actuary Salary: How Much the Average Actuary Makes and How to Start a Career in Actuarial Science

William Miller

The actuary salary is a very lucrative one. In fact, the average actuary makes over $100,000 per year. But is that always the case? What does an actuary do? And how can you become one? In this article, we will answer all of those questions and more.

The Average and Median Actuary Salary – Fresh Data

Actuaries work in a variety of industries, including insurance, finance, and even the government. Because their jobs have a great impact on the finances of big organizations, they can expect to be paid a lot. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average actuary salary was $125,300 in 2021.

But what about the actuary salary range? How much do the highest and lowest earners make? The top-earning actuary makes over $206,820 per year, while the bottom-earning actuary only makes $63,260. That’s a big difference! The median is $105,900, and this is how much you can expect to make as an actuary with a couple of years’ experience.

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Actuary Salaries over the Years

Another thing you should know is that actuary salaries have been on the rise in recent years. In 2010, the average actuary made $98,620 per year. This rose to $114,120 in 2016 and then to $125,300 in 2021. That’s an increase of 27% in 11 years. If you adjust the numbers to inflation, the difference isn’t that big (only about $2,800), but it’s still there.

These salary figures are only going to rise in the future as the demand for actuary services increases. The BLS projects that employment will grow by 24% from 2020 to 2030. So, if you’re thinking of becoming an actuary, now is the time to do it!

The Average Actuary Salary by State

So, we’ve established that the actuary salary is a good one. But where can you expect to make the most money? Should you move to another neighboring state?

The highest-paying state for actuaries is Georgia, with a mean annual wage of $235,310. That’s more than $100,000 above the national average! Other states with high actuary salaries are:

  • New Hampshire – $150,200;
  • New York – $147,420;
  • Connecticut – $140,130;
  • Vermont – $139,670.

The lowest-paying states are Utah ($77,220), Tennessee ($82,320), Oklahoma ($85,500), and Michigan ($88,440). Actuaries in all other states make at least $98,000 per year on average, so you really can’t go wrong no matter where you choose to live and work.

What Do Actuaries Do?

An actuary (or actuarial analyst) is a professional who uses their knowledge of statistical science and mathematics to assess risk. In other words, they help organizations make decisions (about pricing and other financial operations) by analyzing data and predicting the probability of future events. These could be anything from natural disasters to financial crises.

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Typical employers are insurance companies, but actuaries can also be found in other industries such as banking, consulting, and even the government. The highest actuary salaries are in legal services ($227,470 per year on average), followed by business, professional, labor, political and similar organizations ($182,220).

What Challenges Do Actuaries Face?

Like any other profession, actuary jobs come with their own set of challenges. One of the biggest is staying up to date with changes in their industry. With the ever-changing landscape of the insurance industry, actuary jobs are constantly evolving.

Another challenge is passing the actuarial exams in the first place. They’re notoriously difficult, and it can take years to pass all of them. But the rewards are well worth the effort.

The Total Compensation Opportunity for Actuaries

So, we’ve established that actuary salaries are high. But what about the total compensation opportunity? This is the amount of money you can expect to make over the course of your career, including salary, bonuses, and other benefits.

According to the 2019 Salary Survey conducted by Actuarial Careers, Inc., the average base salary was $148,600, and the bonus was $37,726. So, the total compensation was $186,327 on average. Keep in mind that the bonuses weren’t as high for actuaries with fewer than 10 years of experience, though.

How to Become an Actuary?

If you want to become an actuary, you will need to have a strong foundation in math and statistics. A bachelor’s degree in actuarial science is the best way to prepare for this career. But you can also major in mathematics, statistics, or even economics.

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You will also need to pass a series of exams administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). There are a total of 15, but you don’t need to take all of them. The number you need to take depends on the path you want to pursue.

Once you’ve passed the exams, you will be designated as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) or a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU). From there, you can start working your way up the actuary salary ladder!

Actuary Salaries are Lucrative, and the Job Outlook Is Good

If you’re looking for a high-paying career with good job prospects, actuarial science is a great option. The actuary salary is high, and the total compensation opportunity is even higher. However, you’ll need to pass a series of difficult exams to get there.

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