Best Job in the Country? Actually, It’s Actuary!
Actuaries evaluate the likelihood of something happening and design creative ways to reduce the likelihood and decrease the impact of bad things happening.
Jake Falandays graduated from the University of Delaware in 2010 with a degree in mathematics. He looked for a number of different jobs before winding up in a career he didn’t initially know much about: actuarial science.
“I had heard of it in class, but I didn’t really have an idea what an actuary does on a daily basis,” said Falandays, who now works as an actuarial analyst.
If you ask his girlfriend to explain what he does, she brings up the romantic comedy Along Came Polly, in which Ben Stiller is a neurotic actuary learning to loosen up.
Actually, an actuary is a business professional who analyzes the financial consequences of risk, using mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, as defined by the Society of Actuaries, a MyPath partner. Actuaries evaluate the likelihood of something happening and design creative ways to reduce the likelihood and decrease the impact of bad things happening.
What that means is that they are crucial to the risk and insurance industry — not to mention to all sorts of companies that need to understand odds. That’s why we call them the Grand Poo-Bahs of Probability.
To do the job well, actuaries need strong analytical skills, business knowledge and a solid understanding of human behavior.
“It’s an amazing career, because it’s stable, secure, rewarding and you can still have a personal life outside of work,” Falandays said. “There’s a reason it’s always one of the best jobs in the country.”
He’s not kidding. For the past six years, CareerCast.com has named it one of the best jobs in the U.S., and in 2015, it topped the list. CareerCast bases its selections on criteria that includes income, job growth, stress and work environment. The website also interviewed actuaries to get their perspectives.
“I've never met an actuary who said they didn't love what they do,” said Tonya B. Manning, chief actuary at Buck Consultants of Xerox, in an interview with CareerCast. “I work with interesting people every day, from CFOs and attorneys to international clients, and what I do each day is different from what I did the day before. And since I love solving problems that benefit society, it's really a wonderful career.”
Even further, CareerCast breaks down an actuary’s earning potential. According to its analysis of government data, an actuary’s starting salary is usually around $57,000 a year and could eventually reach more than $176,000. That means actuaries have the potential to increase their salaries by more than 200 percent over the course of their careers!
Actuaries also score well on measures that show positive work environments, relatively low stress and an encouraging employment outlook, as demand for these positions increases much faster than average.
“The industry’s very experienced, so you can count on stable workflow,” Falandays added. “That creates more opportunities for creative pursuits.”