A bearded man wearing glasses and a tie

Actuary is probably the most underrated career in the world. It’s almost always at the top of lists promoting the best careers, and yet few people have ever even heard of it.

Just look at the site CareerCast.com, which regularly ranks the top 200 jobs in the U.S. based on factors like salary, growth, stress and work environment. Actuary ranks 11th overall for 2017 and was ranked as high as No. 1 in 2015.

Essentially, 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.

Here’s what it takes to enter an actuarial career.

Undergraduate degree required? Yes, and preferably in actuarial sciences, statistics, economics, finance, management, computer science, business or mathematics.

Advanced degree required? No.

Additional requirements? Yes. To officially become an actuary in the U.S., you need to be certified by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or Society of Actuaries (SOA).

The CAS certifies actuaries who work in the property-casualty insurance field, which includes automobile, homeowners, medical malpractice and workers compensation insurance. The SOA certifies actuaries who work in life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments and finance.

Typical career path: Recent graduates usually start out as trainees on teams and are mentored by experienced actuaries. Initially, they compile data, conduct research and write reports. Companies will often support their trainees’ efforts to complete the certification process, paying the cost of exams and study materials and providing raises and bonuses for each exam passed.

Salary range:

  • Entry level: $57,000 to $72,000
  • Senior level: $82,000 to $180,000
  • Median: $97,000

Entry-level job titles:

  • Actuarial Analyst
  • Assistant Actuary
  • Actuarial Associate
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