Actuary scientists play a vital role in risk assessment. Actuaries gather information to predict the odds of life events, such as illness, death, disability or injury. This information helps insurance companies determine the risk involved in providing health, auto or homeowners insurance to consumers. Actuaries also work in the financial industry, managing credit offerings and creating new investment tools.
Annual Mean Wage
To receive credentials and higher wages, actuaries must take a series of exams sponsored by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. The Society of Actuaries certifies actuaries in fields such as life insurance, health benefits systems and retirement systems. Casualty Actuarial Society certifies actuaries in the auto, homeowners and medical insurance fields. In 2010, actuaries earned an annual mean wage of $98,620, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Annual Median Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, actuaries earned an annual median income of $87,650. Those in the lowest 10th percentile earned $53,100, followed by those in the lowest 25th percentile earning $65,890 per year. Actuaries in the upper 75th and 90th percentile earned significantly higher median wages. The upper 75th percentile received median earnings of $120,770, while the upper 90th percentile earned $160,000.
Actuaries who pass their exams regularly earn higher salaries. According to Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment, U.S. Property and Casualty Actuaries with zero to one year of experience earn between $48,000 and $62,000 after passing one exam. Actuaries with zero to one year of experience earn $51,000 to $65,000 after passing two exams. Actuaries who pass three exams earn between $53,000 and $70,000.
Salary and Industry
More than half of all actuaries work for insurance carriers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that actuaries employed by insurance carriers earned an annual mean wage of $96,930. Actuaries employed by the insurance and employee benefits funds earned an annual mean wage of $126,550. The federal executive branch industry paid the second highest wage of $112,200. Actuaries employed by management, scientific and technical consulting services earned an annual mean wage of $108,580 per year. Agencies, brokerage and other insurance-related activities paid an annual mean wage of $101,430. Actuarial scientists employed by the management of companies and enterprises industries received $88,950, followed by state government-employed actuaries, who earned $75,400.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists New York, Montana, the District of Columbia, Minnesota and Pennsylvania as the five top paying states for actuaries. In 2010, actuaries employed in New York earned an annual mean wage of $115,740. Actuarial scientists employed in Montana earned an annual mean wage of $114,210, while actuaries in the District of Columbia earned $110,920 per year. Minnesota and Pennsylvania actuaries earned $110,470 and $110,220 per year, respectively.