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What Is the Difference Between Actuaries & Statisticians?

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Actuaries and statisticians must both have strong quantitative and mathematical skills. Actuaries specialize in risk assessment and help companies maximize their return. Actuaries should at least have a bachelor’s degree. Statisticians use mathematical principles to analyze various types of data such as census, surveys and opinion polls. The minimum education requirement for most statistician jobs is a master’s degree. Actuaries generally work in financial firms or at insurance companies. Statisticians work in a variety of fields.

Actuary Qualifications

Actuaries are highly skilled in mathematical concepts; they must also possess general business skills. In addition to completing their education requirements, actuaries can become certified through professional associations such as the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. Entry-level actuary jobs involve work in areas such as marketing, underwriting, financial reporting and product development at various insurance companies or financial firms. In addition to having strong quantitative skills, actuaries must be well versed in different types of computer programs and software. In 2009 the medial salary for actuaries was $87,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statistician Qualifications

Statisticians must have strong communications skills since their work involves analyzing and interpreting a wide array of data. An important role played by statisticians involves sampling different types of data and applying statistical methods to various disciplines such as biology, engineering, economics and medicine. Statisticians can find numerous employment opportunities at government offices as well as in the private sector. Statisticians must work independently and be able to meet deadlines. In 2009 their average salary was $72,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Actuary Education and Training

Graduates from disciplines such as mathematics, statistics, finance and economics are ideal candidates for actuary careers. There is also an actuarial science major. Undergraduates who wish to enter the field should consider internship opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Most companies require their newly hired actuaries to become certified by taking a qualifying examination, which is administered by professional actuarial associations. Individuals with advanced degrees in actuarial science can work as teachers at colleges and universities or in research related fields.

Statistician Education and Training

Statisticians seeking entry-level careers should at least have a master’s degree for most positions. Statisticians who work in research or teaching must earn their doctoral degree. Bachelor’s degree holders can apply for entry-level federal jobs. Statisticians also receive extensive training in computer science. Undergraduate statistics majors must take advanced courses in mathematics as well as calculus and specialized courses such as biostatistics. Although statisticians do not have to fulfill licensing or certification requirements, they must be up to date on the latest developments in their fields by taking professional development training throughout their careers.


Selam Nuri has been writing academic articles and working across the curriculum since 2001. She has been published online at various websites and earned her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology in 2006 from the City University of New York.

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