This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
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
$35K-$90K per year
Qualified actuaries with over five years' experience usually earn
$90K-$120K per year
Source: New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
Pay for actuaries varies depending on experience.
- Trainee actuaries can expect to earn $35,000 to $90,000 a year.
- Fully qualified actuaries with five to eight years' experience can earn $90,000 to $120,000.
Source: New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job 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
- give advice to 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?
Stephen Jeffery - Actuary
What made you decide to become an actuary?
"I was pretty good at maths in Sixth Form, and my teacher said to me, 'You can either be a maths teacher or an actuary when you leave school.' I had no idea what an actuary was, but after learning more, I thought it sounded more appealing than being a maths teacher!"
What do you enjoy about being an actuary?
"One of the enjoyable challenges is taking the 'geeky' statistical speak and saying, 'This is what I think you should do with the premiums and this is what I think you should do in terms of where you want to grow your customer base.' "
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to become an actuary?
"I think people need to be realistic about the process involved in becoming an actuary. The exams can be long and time-consuming and not many people will get through without failing one at some stage.
"I wouldn't encourage anyone to go into it unless they're totally committed to doing it."
- Using calculations to help make real-world decisions.
- Being able to take multiple approaches to solving problems.
- The length of time it takes to become fully qualified.
- Pressure caused by having to meet tight deadlines.
To become an actuary it is recommended you have:
- a Bachelor's degree in mathematics or statistics
- an Honours degree, which can be in a non-mathematical subject.
To become a fully qualified actuary you must pass a number of exams, which are set by the UK Institute of Actuaries. You can sit these exams in New Zealand – they are run either through the Institute of Actuaries in Australia or the UK Institute of Actuaries.
Most people sitting their exams work part time – ideally in an insurance firm or actuarial business – while studying. It takes five to eight years to complete the exams.
Once you complete these exams, you must register as a Fellow of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries.
- Institute of Actuaries in Australia website - information on the actuary education programme in Australia
- UK Institute of Actuaries website - information on how to become an actuary
- New Zealand Society of Actuaries website - further information on entry requirements for actuaries
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Good grades in English, and maths with calculus and statistics are required. Economics is also useful.
Actuaries need to be:
- accurate and methodical
- able to communicate well
- able to write reports
- skilled at analysing and interpreting information
- good at solving problems and making decisions.
To be an actuary you must be able to do maths and stats and have a knowledge of finance.
Cordelia Chen - Actuarial Consultant
Useful experience for actuaries includes:
- work for an insurance company
- accounting and computer work
- experience analysing financial statements
- any work involving maths and statistics.
All trainee actuaries in New Zealand must apply to be associates of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries. Once qualified, you can then register as a fellow of the society.
Find out more about training
- Institute of Actuaries of Australia
- +61 (0) 2 9239 6100 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.actuaries.asn.au
- New Zealand Society of Actuaries
- email@example.com - www.actuaries.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
New actuaries struggle to secure work due to the small size of the profession, and low turnover.
Your chances are better if you are an experienced, registered actuary with strong people skills.
New Zealand actuaries find their skills are easily transferable overseas
New actuaries or actuarial consultants may find it easier to get work overseas due to the limited opportunities in New Zealand. Actuaries are paid well and in demand in the US, the UK, Europe, India and Australia.
Most actuaries work in insurance
Actuaries may work for:
- life and general insurance companies
- specialist firms of consulting actuaries
- employee benefit consulting firms
- Crown entities and government departments and institutions such as the Reserve Bank and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)
- larger consulting firms offering a range of specialised services, such as the big accountancy firms.
Most actuaries work for insurance companies or consulting firms and are based in either Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
- Adams, S, 'The Best Jobs for 2015', Forbes, 14 April 2015, (www.forbes.com).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014.
- New Zealand Society of Actuaries website, June 2015, (www.actuaries.org.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Census 2013', 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Actuaries may progress to work as senior insurance agents or accountants.
They can also specialise in a variety of areas such as:
- banking and finance
- carbon crediting.
Last updated 30 May 2017