Most actuarial assistants are employed by insurance companies. Actuarial assistants assist with setting premium rates and performing data research. Actuarial assistants have pretty flexible schedules. Most don't work more than 40 hours a week; however, some consulting actuaries may work more than 40 hours. Some actuaries do freelance work, working as many or as few hours as they choose. Consultants generally make more money than actuaries that work for insurance companies. Actuarial assistants can work for not only insurance companies, but they can work for state governments in regulatory roles, or as auto insurers or property insurers.
Life and Health Insurance
Actuarial assistants who choose to work in the life and health insurance industries generally help with forecasting the likelihood of certain events occurring and the impact those events will have on potential losses for the company and on claims. Actuarial assistants working in the health and life-insurance fields are expected to calculate the anticipated number of claims that are the direct result of auto accidents. They have to incorporate factors such as a person's age, sex, driving history, type of car and other factors.
Actuarial assistants in the financial services industry aid in the process of managing credit, setting prices for corporate security offerings, and devising new investment tools to help their companies compete with other companies. Actuarial assistants work alongside investment portfolio managers to monitor emerging trends in yields, they prepare crediting rate change recommendations, provide data and building models to imitate experience in extreme stress scenarios and they work with others to develop and validate assumptions used in product pricing.
Most actuarial assistants possess a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, Statistics or Finance. Those who earn a master's degree or higher have the opportunity to work at a higher level position, such as an actuary. Basic computer knowledge, such as familiarity with spreadsheets, databases, statistical analysis programs and programming languages like SQL (Structured Query Language) are crucial. Preparing reports and giving presentations to senior management or clients is a very big part of the job. In order to be certified as an actuary, you must pass a series of tests---seven exams with the CAS (Casualty Actuarial Society) and four exams with the SOA (The Society of Actuaries), which takes about four to six years.
The first exam includes a review of calculus and probability. The questions featured on this exam are in an insurance risk management context. There is a helpful study note on the syllabus for Exam #1 that introduces the students taking the exam to the basic concepts and terminology of insurance and risk management. The second exam deals with interest theory, finance and micro and macro economics. The third exam deals with actuarial theory and the fourth deals with methods of applied statistics and survival analysis.
The first few exams are all multiple choice and are graded with either a pass or fail. These exams are definitely more rigorous than exams given in the classroom. Four weeks of studying---at minimum---should be taken for these exams, passing these exams is extremely important because it is very rare that students will obtain a summer internship without having passed an exam.
The number of applicants is expected to surpass the number of positions in coming years, so competition is likely. The occupation of an actuarial assistant is expected to grow 21 percent by 2016.
The average annual salary of an actuarial assistant is less than $37,000 per year. As an actuary, you might start out at a rate similar to that.
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