While the concept of insurance dates to antiquity (Johnston 1903, §475–§476, Loan 1992, Lewin 2007, pp. 3–4), the mathematics and finance needed to scientifically measure and mitigate risks have their origins in the 17th century studies of probability and annuities (Heywood 1985). Actuaries of the 21st century require analytical skills, business knowledge, and an understanding of human behavior and information systems to design and manage programs that control risk (BeAnActuary 2011c). The actual steps needed to become an actuary are usually country-specific; however, almost all processes share a rigorous schooling or examination structure and take many years to complete (Feldblum 2001, p. 6, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries 2014).
The profession has consistently ranked as one of the most desirable (Riley 2013). In various studies, being an actuary was ranked number one or two multiple times since 2010 (Thomas 2012, Weber 2013, CareerCast 2015).
In order to sign certain statements of actuarial opinion, however, American actuaries must be members of the
In the pension area, American actuaries must pass three examinations to become an Enrolled Actuary. Some pension-related filings to the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation require the signature of an Enrolled Actuary. Many Enrolled Actuaries belong to the Conference of Consulting Actuaries or the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.
In 2009, the Society of Actuaries began a high-level accreditation system for universities, recognizing the best actuarial schools as Centers of Actuarial Excellence. There are two sets of criteria that must be met: A Criteria and B Criteria. Additionally, a site visit must be performed by a team of CAE committee members who evaluate the University and conduct interviews with students and faculty. The designation is retained for five years and if a criteria is not met, then the University must provide a plan for how they will address the problem within a reasonable time frame.