The Starting Salary of Actuarial Science

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There were 17,940 actuaries working in the United States as of December 2009.
There were 17,940 actuaries working in the United States as of December 2009. (Image: woman reading business statistics image by forca from Fotolia.com)

An undergraduate degree in actuarial science qualifies a graduate to begin a career as an actuary. Actuaries use statistical probability to calculate the cost of high-risk events. Most actuaries work for large insurance and investment companies. While actuaries generally have a bachelor's degree in addition to licenses and certifications, experienced actuaries may also hold a master's degree in mathematics or statistics.

Starting Salaries

Both the Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society note that the vast majority of graduates from an approved undergraduate program in actuarial science begin their careers as professional actuaries. The average starting salary for professional actuaries is $51,950 per year or $24.98 per hour. This amount is the bottom decile of pay for all professional actuaries.

Universities That Offer Approved Actuarial Science Degrees

The Society of Actuaries compiles a list of undergraduate programs that are registered as "Centers of Actuarial Excellence." Graduates of these programs have an easier path to certification as a professional actuary: University of Connecticut, Drake University, Georgia State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University, University of Iowa, Université Laval, University of Manitoba, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Pennsylvania State University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Robert Morris University, Simon Fraser University, St. John's University, University of St. Thomas, Temple University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario and University of Wisconsin–Madison.

State Differences in Starting Actuary Salaries

Pennsylvania ($64,520), Minnesota ($59,990), Colorado ($58,430), Massachusetts ($58,120) and Connecticut ($57,920) offered the highest starting salaries for new actuaries. Oklahoma ($31,490) had the lowest starting salary for beginning actuaries.

Licensing and Certification For Actuaries

Actuaries in the United States and Canada must receive certification from either the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries. Both groups allow college graduates with a degree in actuarial science to take a series of preliminary exams prior to starting work as a professional actuary. While some companies may hire a new graduate straight from school, an actuary's starting salary is highly influenced by the passage of the preliminary exams.

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