[Introduction] Without a crystal ball, how does anyone have the ability to predict the future? How do you know what will happen in the stock market next Tuesday? How much compensation will an insurance company pay out next year? With a degree in actuarial science, you will get the answer.

Actuary can be said to be the world's most high-paying and niche profession. The work of an actuary is very important to the insurance industry. Although there are not many positions offered, the starting salary of Canadian actuarial graduates is no less than $100,000 CAD and can reach up to several million. It is a very scarce job in China. To become a qualified actuary, one must have a solid background in mathematics, statistics and business, a bachelor's degree, and a series of examinations to become a certified professional.

Introduction to the Actuarial Science major in Canada

Actuarial scienceis a discipline that appliesmathematics,statistics,and financial theoriesto assess risk and uncertainty in insurance, finance, and other industry and professions, and helps businesses and customers plan for the future and minimize loss.

More generally, actuaries apply rigorous mathematics to model matters of uncertainty. To be an actuary, one must be good with numbers. Professional examinations are also compulsory in the process of becoming an actuary. If students do not have the correct training and attitude, it is difficult to graduate and become a qualified actuary.

What knowledge and skills do students learn in the Canadian Actuarial Science major?

To become a qualified professional, an actuary must have a solid background in mathematics, statistics and finance. Generally, actuaries have undergraduate degrees in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics or other analytical fields. To become a qualified professional, students must not only complete compulsory courses such as economics, statistics, finance, and mathematics, but also learn other supplementary skills to prepare them for becoming an actuary. Knowledge of computer science, especially programming languages, and the ability to use Excel, databases and statistical analysis tools are valuable. The writing and public speaking courses will improve the students' ability to communicate in the business world.

Compulsory courses include:

  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Computer Science
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Actuarial Science

Employment prospects of Canadian actuarial graduates

The employment of actuaries is expected to grow by 20% in the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, since this is an extremely niche profession, it will only bring about 5,000 new jobs in ten years. As of 2019, actuaries have taken up approximately 25,000 jobs. The largest employers of actuaries are as follows:

  • Finance and insurance 71%
  • Scientific and technical services 15%
  • Company and business management 6%
  • Government 4%
  • Self-employment 1%

As mentioned above, to become an actuary, a professional certificate is a prerequisite. Students can choose to become a member of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA) to enter their field of specialization. CAS certifies actuaries in the field of property and casualty insurance, including auto, homes, medical accidents and workers’ compensation insurance. SOA certified actuaries engage in life insurance, health insurance, pensions, investment and finance. Usually before graduation, students will have already obtained a professional certificate. After graduation, the scope of work is mainly to develop, price and evaluate various insurance products, and calculate financial risks. Actuaries usually work in teams, which usually include managers and professionals in other fields, such as accounting, underwriting, and finance.

Job description of a Canadian Actuarial Science graduate

Most actuaries work for insurance companies. While most people work full-time in offices, some actuaries who work as consultants may travel to meet with clients. Most actuarial work is done on the computer, and actuaries use database software to compile information. They use advanced statistical and modeling software to predict the likelihood of an event occurring, the potential cost of the event, and whether the insurance company will have enough money to pay for future claims. Actuaries in the insurance industry usually specialize in specific areas of insurance, such as:

  • Health Insurance Actuary

Helps formulate long-term care and health insurance policies by predicting the expected cost of care provided under the terms of the insurance contract. Their predictions are based on many factors, including family history, geographic location and occupation.

  • Life Insurance Actuary

Estimate a person’s life expectancy through risk factors such as age, gender, and tobacco use, thereby formulating annuity and life insurance policies for individuals and groups.

  • Property and Casualty Insurance Actuary

Formulate insurance policies to ensure that policyholders are protected from property losses and liabilities caused by accidents, natural disasters, fires and other events. They calculate the estimated number of claims caused by car accidents, which varies with the insured’s age, gender, driving history, car type and other factors.

  • Pension and Social Welfare Actuary

Design, test and evaluate a company’s pension plan to determine whether future available funds are sufficient to ensure payment of future benefits. They must report the evaluation results to the federal government. Pension actuaries also help companies develop other types of retirement plans, such as 401(k) and medical plans for retirees. In addition, they also advise individuals on retirement plans.

  • Corporate Risk Management Actuary

Identify any risks that may affect the company's short-term or long-term goals, including economic, financial and geopolitical risks. They assist senior management to determine how much risk the company is willing to take and develop strategies to deal with these problems.

Job description of a Canadian Actuarial Science graduate

  • The average annual salary of an actuary is $102,880 $102,880
  • The bottom 10% earn less than $61,140
  • The top 10% earn more than $186,110

Many actuaries earn far more than that.

List of Actuarial Science Programs in Ontario, Canada



Name of Program School Type of Credential Open to International Students Start Date
Actuarial Science Waterloo University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science University of Toronto Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial and Financial math McMaster University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science Queen’s University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science York University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science Western University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science Simon Fraser University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science University of Calgary Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science University of Manitoba Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Mathematics and Finance Concordia University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science Laurentian University Bachelor Degree Open September
Actuarial Science Laval University Bachelor Degree Open September
Insurance Seneca College College Diploma Open September, January
Insurance Mohawk College College Diploma Open September, January
Insurance Conestoga College College Diploma Open September, January
Insurance Fanshawe College College Diploma Open September, January, May

Summary: UtoCanada's education consultants’ views on the actuarial science major

North American actuarial science is currently the most influential actuary qualification in the world, and it is highly recognized in China. As a high-paying but scarce profession, actuarial science graduates may not be able to find a job immediately after their studies. Many netizens stated that despite working their tails off to earn several professional certificates, they had trouble finding a corresponding job. The bar set for actuarial jobs is very high. In addition to academic qualifications and certificates; skills, experience, and creativity are more important. Therefore, most companies will hire reputable actuaries instead of fresh graduates, which is why the salary of actuary varies so greatly.

Because actuaries do not work alone, but with department executives, accounting and other main roles; communicative skills and adaptability are also very important. Therefore, having internship experience during school is critical. Having a wealth of relevant internship experience will give an edge to applicants. In all, if you want to engage in the actuarial science profession, you must first be good at mathematics and statistics, and have knowledge in finance and programming. In addition, during your work and studies, there is no time to relax. You must persevere in learning and research to develop!