Career Profile: Actuary

Career Profile: Actuary

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Suppose that you had to make an important decision about money. You might want to get some advice. For insurance companies, actuaries help people to make good decisions about how to make their companies work better.

Actuaries work in offices where they help to analyze information. Often, they work with statistics in insurance companies to help with decisions about what customers will buy. People in this field should have a background in mathematics and statistics so that they can analyze information about accidents, retirement, and sickness. Insurance companies use this information to help them decide how much to charge for their service. The work of an actuary is not normally physically difficult, but it can be tiring to work with statistics all day.

When people buy insurance, they pay a certain amount of money every month to get money back if something happens. For example, people in dangerous jobs might buy accident insurance to get money in case they are hurt too badly to work. Business owners might buy fire or flood insurance in case their buildings are damaged. People have many different reasons for buying insurance, and actuaries can help the companies make good decisions.

Working in this field normally requires a university degree in something like actuarial science or statistics. Several universities in Canada, like the University of Calgary in Alberta and McMaster University in Ontario, have programs that can give people the training that they need.

Being able to work with numbers is important, and being able to solve problems, analyze risks, and see possibilities is helpful. Most university programs include a combination of classroom work and practical experience. At the end of the program, students need to take exams in actuarial studies to be able to work in their field.

Many different factors can be important in how actuaries analyze risks for insurance companies. For theft insurance, for example, actuaries need to know statistics about crime in the area to decide how much to charge customers. Flood insurance in a mountain city would also be different from the same insurance in a flat area close to a lake or river.

The work that actuaries do can depend on where they find jobs. In big cities, actuaries might be able to specialize in one kind of analysis, such as fire insurance. They might also be able to work in other kinds of businesses to help with decisions about how much of a product to make or how much to charge. In small towns, they would likely have to know a lot about many different subjects. They might help sell all kinds of insurance or even work with factory owners or other business people.

Actuaries normally work regular hours, and they might work closely with others or mainly alone. Salaries in this field start at close to $46,000 and can rise to $139,000 as people gain experience. People who enjoy numbers can stay in this job for their entire careers, but they can also use their skills for developing software or supervising other people. If you like dealing with risk and uncertainty, you might want to consider becoming an actuary.


Actuarial Careers Inc. “Canada.” https://www.actuarialcareers.com/canada/.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries. “Canadian Universities Offering Actuarial Studies.” https://www.cia-ica.ca/about-us/actuaries/careers/universities.

Payscale.com. “Actuary Salary.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Actuary/Salary.

Wikipedia.org. “Actuary.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary.

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