What is an Actuary?

Actuaries are professionals who use their mathematical, statistical and financial skills to solve financial problems involving future uncertainty. They put price tags on future risks. Due to their versatility, actuaries enjoy a wide variety of challenging and rewarding careers. The main areas of practice for actuaries are:

  • Insurance industry (life and health insurance, property/casualty insurance, annuities). They are involved with most aspects of the business including the design, pricing, and valuation of products, the solvency of the company, investment management, marketing, and administration.
  • Consulting. They offer advice on various aspects of pension plans, employee benefit schemes, and financial planning.
  • Government agencies. They supervise insurance companies, design social security programs, and project their costs.
  • Other areas. These include reinsurance, investment companies, banks, universities, and large corporations.

Best Overall Job

According to The Jobs Related Almanac, actuary is consistently rated as one of the best jobs when salary, work environment, stress, career outlook, security, and physical demands are jointly taken into consideration.

Professional Examinations

To become an actuary, one must complete a series of professional examinations. For the life insurance and pension areas, the examinations are jointly sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries.

For the property and casualty areas, the examinations are offered by the Casualty Actuarial Society in consultation with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Actuarial Science at SFU

The Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science offers major and honours programs leading to a bachelor of science in Actuarial Science. In addition to preparing students for most of the Society of Actuaries' associateship-level examinations (exams P, FM, IFM, STAM, LTAM, and SRM), these programs build critical skills in communication and expose students to a variety of opportunities in research and industry.

SFU has been recognized as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries since 2010. This is the highest level of recognition offered by the SOA, reflecting the quality of our curriculum, the strength of our faculty and of our graduates, and our program's deep connection to industry. There are only 33 educational instutions with the CAE designation worldwide and we are proud to be one of them.


Visit Be An Actuary, a website created by the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries to explain the actuarial science profession and the pathway to becoming an actuary.

See the SFU Calendar and information for current students for details about Actuarial Science programs and courses.