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Eames Insights: Succeeding in the US Actuarial market - what are the key skills and qualifications required?

  • Publish Date: Posted 7 months ago
  • Author:by David Miles

The US Actuarial market has never been busier. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employment growth rate by 2031 in America is 5%, and with actuaries, it is 21%, far exceeding the average growth rate.

With this employment growth, the expectation on actuaries continues to grow too. Today’s actuaries must have technical skills as well as the ability to present their idea, the ability to manage internal stakeholders as well as in depth product/market knowledge.

We posed the question to some of the most influential market leaders in the insurance space: what would the actuary of today/tomorrow need to excel? The results and notes on this are below:

What are the key technical skills or qualifications that candidates must possess to excel in the US insurance sector today?

  • “Insurance product knowledge. If you’re going to become a strong actuary, you have to know your product, the premiums, the why, the policy, insurance principles and product knowledge is crucial. If you start with core policy principles and understand why and where variances occur, you’ll be set up.” – Head of Pricing, global commercial lines insurer

  • “Product experience is key for me, if you know your product and you understand why your product is in demand, it’s key. I started in early rate filing and analysis of market trends to get the price we needed. That initial analysis got me further into commercial property, and since then, it’s all I have done. Being niche is only useful for niche markets, vanilla products are the biggest for a reason.” – Former Chief Actuary, life insurance

  • “Coding and programming, I made a career off of being an AXIS user, not an AXIS modeler. You can be just as strong reading something than being a modeler.” – Pricing Actuary, commercial lines insurer

  • “IFRS 17 was huge for us, hiring people with just IFRS experience was useful, but people that leveraged this to more project-focused work are invaluable. If the industry gives you the chance to be an expert and galvanizing people, leading them to a common goal - use it. Project actuaries are the future.” - Chief Actuary of a life insurer

  • “The number of candidates that do not actually look at our financial statements or understand how big we are or where we specialize - understanding financial statements, ratios, and key financial metrics is important for evaluating the financial stability of the company you are going to join! Plus, it’ll impress in an interview.” – Former Chief Actuary of a personal lines insurance company

  • “Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential in the insurance sector. Being able to interview well and have good eye contact, even over video – practice and film yourself on video and review. Prepare. If you’re interviewing out of necessity, not out of interest, we will pick up on it. The candidates we need always need to face off with business; you need to master technical as well as soft skills.” - A head of Talent Acquisition, at a US head-quartered speciality insurer

  • “If you can’t code – you’ll be left behind. You have to use and manipulate data to stay ahead. Coding today is the key. Today’s actuary needs to be technical and have great soft skills, it’s no use having one without the other. In contradiction to this, the best actuaries I’ve ever worked with are also the smartest; there is a direct correlation between ‘high achiever’/ salary and high intelligence.” - Valuations Head, US Life insurance carrier

I thoroughly enjoyed and continue to enjoy conversations with senior market leaders. Should you wish to speak further on this, or you would like to have a confidential chat with me or any of the team about your next career move or business objectives, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Check out our US teams', Eames Insights, with Wise Stine covering conversations with senior market leaders surrounding the impact of natural disasters and increasing loss types on the P&C actuarial market and Richard Lazaro exploring the market changes across cyber and E&S within the insurance space in the US