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What Is a Pricing Actuary?

by Deb Dupree

Actuaries are statisticians who work primarily in the insurance and financial services industries. They use their math skills to assess risks associated with extending insurance or financial products to potential clients. Pricing actuaries determine the prices for these products based on calculated risks. The pricing decisions actuaries make must be high enough to cover company expenses and costs associated with claims. Well-qualified pricing actuaries are skilled in statistical analyses that yield profitable but competitive product pricing.

Math and More

Pricing actuaries collect and analyze data in order to estimate claim payout probabilities for insurable events such as death, serious injury or disability or property loss or claims resulting from casualties. The type of data pricing actuaries use to calculate probabilities varies according to product or service offerings but may include age and gender. Putting a price on products isn't the only job actuaries perform. Depending on their employer, they may contribute to forming policies and plans for new products and use their math skills to design financially sound insurance and pension plans.

Who’s Hiring

Many pricing actuaries find job opportunities with various types of insurance companies, including life, health and property insurance providers. Others may choose to work for consulting firms, government agencies and financial entities such as pension fund providers and security and commodity brokers. Industry sectors providing the most job opportunities for actuaries are insurance brokerage agencies, consulting and management firms and direct insurance companies, excluding insurance providers of life, health and medical coverage.

How to Get the Job

Pricing actuaries complete complex mathematical analyses that form the basis for company financial decisions and pricing strategies. Success in this job requires strong mathematical abilities. Top job candidates have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in mathematics, statistics or actuary science and a strong understanding of business principles. Computer skills and statistical modeling skills are also high on the list for many potential employers. Actuaries must also have strong analytical, reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Earnings Potential

Actuaries can expect a median annual salary of $87,650, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010 wage data. Insurance brokerage agencies offer a higher median wage of $91,080, followed by direct insurance companies with an annual median wage of $89,320. Even though the BLS expects employment opportunities to grow faster than the average of all occupations, the job market is still very competitive, because the career field is small, with limited job openings. Actuaries who take and pass professional exams and who have work experience are the top prospects for employers.

About the Author

Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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