Actuarial scientists, more commonly called actuaries, analyse risk potential and develop and apply solutions to minimise the costs of that risk. Most actuaries work for insurance companies and agencies, or other insurance-related businesses, while some work for other types of financial services firms. Actuarial scientists can expect to earn around £65,000 per year on average.
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides examples of actuarial science work. Property and casualty actuaries, for instance, use a person's age, gender, type of vehicle and driving history to calculate the expected number of automobile insurance claims. With this information, insurance providers can charge a premium that covers future claims, while still being competitive with other companies. Actuaries in other types of financial services might develop new investment products to keep their firms competitive or work on improving investments in pension plans.
The average salary for actuarial scientists as of May 2009 was £30.4 per hour, or £63,342 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in the middle 50 per cent of the earnings scale were making £42,282 to £78,565 per year. The top 10 per cent had annual salaries of £102,856 and higher, and only the bottom 10 per cent were earning less than £33,800 per year.
Actuaries working for the federal government have higher average salaries, at £34.6 per hour, or £71,981 in 2009. In contrast, those working for state governments earn much less, at £54,197 per year on average. A small number of actuarial scientists work for organisations such as trade unions and political and professional associations, making an average annual salary of £81,614.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects fast job growth in this occupation, but cautions aspiring actuaries that competition will be keen. There likely will be more qualified applicants than job openings for these lucrative positions. Financial services firms will experience more job growth for actuaries than insurance companies will. Consulting firms also will offer more opportunities because of an increasing trend for company managers to hire actuarial consultants on contract to evaluate risk, rather than employing their own actuaries.
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