Powerful Geography



Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview: Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk. Actuaries’ work is essential to the insurance industry. Actuaries use database software to compile information. They use advanced statistics and modeling software to forecast the probability of an event occurring, the potential costs of the event if it does occur, and whether the insurance company has enough money to pay future claims. Most actuaries work at insurance companies, where they help design policies and determine the premiums that should be charged for each policy.

Actuaries in the insurance industry typically specialize in a specific field of insurance, such as one of the following: Health insurance actuaries help develop long-term care and health insurance policies by predicting expected costs of providing care under the terms of an insurance contract. Their predictions are based on numerous factors, including family history, geographic location, and occupation. Life insurance actuaries help develop annuity and life insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating, based on risk factors such as age, gender, and tobacco use, how long someone is expected to live. Property and casualty insurance actuaries help develop insurance policies that insure policyholders against property loss and liability resulting from accidents, natural disasters, fires, and other events. Some actuaries apply their expertise outside of the insurance industry. For example, they develop investment strategies that manage risks and maximize returns for companies or individuals. Pension and retirement benefits actuaries design, test, and evaluate company pension plans to determine if the expected funds available in the future will be enough to ensure payment of future benefits. Enterprise risk actuaries identify any risks, including economic, financial, and geopolitical risks that may affect a company’s short-term or long-term objectives.  Actuaries also work in the public sector. In the federal government, actuaries may evaluate proposed changes to Social Security or Medicare or conduct economic and demographic studies to project future benefit obligations. At the state level, actuaries may examine and regulate the rates charged by insurance companies.

Geographic skills are hugely important to actuaries. Many of the risk factors they calculate are very dependent on location. They will likely use geographic information systems (GIS), modeling software, and other computer programs to understand it.

Geographers at work: Geographic information scientists, statistical geographers

Recommended College Courses: Geographic information science, spatial statistics, spatial analysis, agent-based modeling, human geography, physical geography

Skills: Geographic information systems, spatial analysis and statistics, map reading and interpretation

Occupation Group: Math

Learn more about Actuaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/actuaries.htm#tab-2

Written by Christopher Anderson