Sifting through the range of options and finding the right career can be quite daunting. There are so many things to consider, not to mention differing views from your teachers, friends, and family. Two great questions to answer that help are: ‘what subjects or disciplines do I like?’; and ‘what activities or tasks do I like doing?’.
If you enjoy studying mathematics, statistics, business, or economics subjects and solving problems in general, then a career as an actuary might be just what you’re looking for. When it comes to entry requirements, there is always more than one pathway so that should never lead to closing the door on your career aspirations.
Where do actuaries work?
Actuaries work in new, high-growth fields, such as data science, energy resources, and climate risk in addition to core areas like insurance, superannuation, wealth management, investments, health financing, and banking.
There are over 3,700 actuaries in Australia, and we’ve been practicing here for 125 years. A newly qualified Fellow can expect to earn around $150,000* per year and incomes rise quickly with senior actuaries easily earning over $300,000* a year (plus superannuation). Seek career advice is predicting 11% projected job growth over the next 5 years.
Employment opportunities for actuaries are many and varied, with over 100 companies employing actuaries. In 2022, the biggest employers of actuaries, based on our members, were:
*Actuarial Salary Survey 2021
What are the major practice areas?
Major areas of demand and interest include:
Growing demand for data technologies means growing demand for data skills. By training, intellectual ability and experience, actuaries are ideally placed to fill this demand which is apparent with over 30% of actuaries working in the area.
Actuaries play a pivotal role modelling data, using techniques to extract maximum value while managing risk, to identify solutions to business problems. Examples include improving products and services through personalisation; deploying AI to improve automation in supply chains; pioneering customer- and asset-specific pricing strategies based on an individual’s values and risk appetite; and supporting sustainability in business through enhanced environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) transparency.
The contribution of the actuarial profession is a growing feature of the general insurance industry. The analytical and statistical training actuaries undertake, enables them to assess the impact of changing conditions on the financial viability of general insurance products and the reserves required to be held for future claims – be it for fire, flood, accident, motor vehicles or workers' compensation.
The economic interdependence of nations today and the need to make sound investment decisions have focused attention on the value of actuarial advice.
By virtue of their experience in analysing financial transactions and assessing risks, actuaries are increasingly sought after for a wide range of technical and management roles in the investment and financial services sectors.
The actuarial profession has its foundations in life insurance and in spite of diversification into other areas, over 25% of Australian actuaries currently work in the industry.
Apart from traditional roles including determining premium scales, policy design, risk assessment, profitability testing and allocation of surplus, actuaries can be found in many other aspects of life insurance including general management, market strategy, corporate and computer systems development, staff training and supervision, and other financial control functions.
Reporting on the financial stability of a Life Insurance Company is the statutory responsibility of an Appointed Actuary.
Nearly 20% of actuaries in Australia work on matters related to superannuation. Now a compulsory component of every Australian employment package, superannuation has become a major avenue for national savings and retirement income.
Through the construction and application of mathematical models, actuaries are able to project financial outcomes from a range of input variables, and are involved in designing and administering superannuation funds and other employee benefit schemes that meet the needs of industry groups, employers, employees and individuals.
Positions range from executive management through to administration, technical actuarial tasks and consulting. Many actuaries work closely with superannuation fund trustees, providing regular advice and guidance and are frequently required to comment on the impact of proposed changes in government legislation and taxation on superannuation.
There is growing demand for actuarial services in health insurance, risk management and the financial services industry and an increasing number of banks, insurance brokers, stockbrokers and other financial services companies are employing actuaries.
The Australian Federal Government currently employs a Government Actuary and Deputy Commissioner (Life Insurance) and a number of actuaries as support staff for both these positions, and State Governments also employ actuaries to supervise the management of their superannuation and health insurance funds and provide other actuarial advice as required.
Challenging careers in university education, computer software and management consultancy have also attracted a number of actuaries and as large corporations adjust to current market conditions, the need for actuaries in the development of long-term strategic plans is growing.
As we move towards an increasingly globalised society, greater numbers of actuaries are working in non-traditional areas, such as:
- the environment;
- information technology;
- telecommunications; and
- public infrastructure.