Actuaries predict and assess the financial risks and impacts of future events. They work in areas such as insurance, superannuation and investment.
Trainee actuaries usually earn
$45K-$100K per year
Qualified actuaries with five years' experience usually earn
$100K-$150K per year
Source: New Zealand Society of Actuaries, 2018.
Pay for actuaries varies depending on experience and qualifications.
- Trainee actuaries usually earn $45,000 to $100,000 a year.
- Fully qualified actuaries with five to eight years' experience can earn $100,000 to $150,000 a year.
Source: New Zealand Society of Actuaries, 2018.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Actuaries may do some or all of the following:
- collect and analyse statistics about past financial events
- forecast the effect of future financial events
- analyse and solve business problems using mathematical and statistical modelling techniques
- advise businesses and government on managing financial and other business risks
- prepare reports and advise on insurance, investment, superannuation and management of funds
- calculate the assets and liabilities of insurance companies, and determine their financial strength
- help to determine a company's financial results.
Skills and knowledge
Actuaries need to have:
- knowledge of maths, statistics, economics, accounting, finance and investment
- understanding of the risks involved in running a business
- knowledge of business management and law, including economic and social law.
- usually work regular business hours, but may sometimes work weekends or evenings to meet deadlines
- work in offices, but may travel locally to visit clients.
What's the job really like?
Farhaad Kachwalla knew he wanted to work with numbers, so he approached Wellington firm Melville Jessup Weaver to find out about becoming an actuary - and ended up with a job.
How did you get your job?
"I started off at Victoria University of Wellington doing an economics and maths degree. I always wanted to get into something that involved numbers because I enjoyed working with them. My mum knew an actuary in Wellington and she thought it would be good if I had a chat with one to see what they actually do – and there was a vacancy available. When I first started I didn't know very much at all, but as you go through the exams to become a fully qualified actuary, it actually helps you directly with what you do at work."
What do you find challenging about it?
"The exams – there are 15. They're meant to be hard. It's full-time work, part-time study, and it's all via correspondence."
What's a typical day like for you?
"A lot of the work I do revolves around numbers and working with spreadsheets. The practice areas that Melville Jessup Weaver consults in are life insurance, general insurance, superannuation, investment consulting, and data analytics. I enjoy the variety of work – I love analysing stuff and I can spend all day on a spreadsheet and have a great day."
There are no specific requirements to become a trainee actuary. However, it is recommended you have a Bachelor's degree in mathematics or statistics, or an Honours degree, which can be in a non-mathematical subject.
Victoria University of Wellington is the only university in New Zealand that offers a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Commerce in actuarial science. By completing this course, you could be exempted from some actuarial institute exams.
To become a qualified actuary you need to pass a number of exams set by an overseas actuary institute, which you study while working full time. Most trainee actuaries in New Zealand sit exams set by the Actuaries Institute (Australia) or the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (UK).
- Actuaries Institute (Australia) website - information on training as an actuary
- Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (UK) website - information on how to become an actuary
You also need to be registered with the New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English, economics, accounting, and mathematics.
Actuaries need to be:
- skilled at analysing and interpreting information
- good at solving problems and making decisions
- accurate and methodical
- able to communicate well
- able to write reports.
Learning on the job, becoming an actuary in New Zealand, is like doing an apprenticeship in business.
Useful experience for actuaries includes:
- work for an insurance company
- experience programming computers
- accounting and computer work
- experience analysing financial statements
- any work involving mathematics and statistics.
Trainee actuaries need to be registered as members with the New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
Qualified actuaries need to register as a fellow of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
Find out more about training
- Actuaries Institute (Australia)
- 00 61 2 9239 6100 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.actuaries.asn.au
- New Zealand Society of Actuaries
- (04) 815 8179 - email@example.com - www.actuaries.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Demand growing for actuaries
Your chances of securing a job as an actuary are best if you have excellent mathematical and communication skills.
Demand for actuaries is strong because:
- the number of jobs available is increasing across a broad range of industries
- the number of qualified actuaries is small and it takes a long time to train
- global demand for actuaries is high.
Job advertisements for actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians rose 18% between 2017 and 2018, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
There are fewer than 265 actuaries and trainee actuaries working in New Zealand.
Most actuaries work in insurance
Most actuaries work for insurance companies or consulting firms based in Auckland or Wellington. However, there are increasing job opportunities in the education, health and software development sectors.
Actuaries may work for:
- life and general insurance companies
- specialist actuary consulting firms
- Crown entities and government departments and institutions such as the Reserve Bank and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
- employee benefit consulting firms
- larger consulting firms offering a range of specialised services, such as the big accountancy firms.
- Dobinson, J, New Zealand Society of Actuaries website editor, Careers Directorate — Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website, 'Detailed Occupation Data Table', accessed March 2018.
- Victoria University website, accessed February 2018, (www.victoria.ac.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Actuaries may move into management or chief officer roles.
They may specialise in areas such as:
- banking and finance
- carbon crediting.
Last updated 5 August 2019