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Actuary


Description

If you work, pay taxes, have a Social Security Number, or pay for health, life, home, renters, fire or car insurance, you are directly affected by the work of an actuary. Many aspects of life are uncertain: How do you know if your house is going to get blown away by a tornado? Or how do you know if you will get sick next year? Nobody knows, life is risky. Despite the unpredictability of our futures, actuaries can analyze statistics and calculate the probability of uncertain events occurring in the future among members of defined groups.

Actuaries put a price tag on future risks. They determine possible peril, make price decisions, and formulate investment strategies. Some actuaries also design insurance, financial, and pension plans and ensure that these plans are maintained on a sound financial basis. Most actuaries specialize in life and health or property and casualty insurance; others work primarily in finance or employee benefits.

Regardless of their specialty area, actuaries assemble and analyze data to estimate probabilities of an event taking place, such as death, sickness, injury, disability, or property loss. Applying mathematics, probability, statistics and risk theory, they calculate future risks associated with insurance, annuity and pension programs. They also use these techniques to provide legal evidence on the value of future earnings.

Actuaries apply mathematical models to problems of insurance and finance. They improve financial decision-making by developing models to evaluate the current financial implications of uncertain future events. Their calculations and projections are the backbone of the insurance and financial security industries. Actuarial work involves a great deal of math, but actuaries must also be up-to-date on business issues and trends, social science, law, and economics. In other words, actuaries have a well-rounded business approach to problem solving. And they must be good communicators to explain things to everyday people without math knowledge.

How do insurance companies determine their rates? How can one tell if Mr. X or Mrs. P is going to get into a car accident? Actuaries are hired to resolve this uncertainty and determine how much to charge. They might study the historical trends of car accidents to try to determine the probability factor. Some actuaries work with companies to design pension plans. The actuary will estimate the probable future cost and then determine how much each employee will contribute to the pension plan each year.
 
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Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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