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Can a Felon Become an Actuary?

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There are resources available even though felons may not believe they can find a job. Often, they must look at different career path and additional education. Some felons might consider a career in the insurance industry and could explore a career as an actuary.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become an actuary.

  • What is an Actuary?
  • What Education/Training Does an Actuary Need?
  • How Much Does an Actuary Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is an Actuary?

An actuary analyzes financial costs of risk. They determine the mathematical probability of a loss or disaster occurring. He or she helps businesses develop policies that minimize the cost of a risk for the future. The insurance industry utilizes actuaries to assist in designing insurance plans and setting costs of premiums.

An actuary has many duties, including:

  • Analyzing the possibility of future events
  • Designing methods to decrease the negative effects of an undesirable event
  • Assisting in decisions regarding the future
  • Compiling statistical data for analysis
  • Estimating the economic cost of an event
  • Testing insurance policies
  • Producing charts and reports to explain calculations
  • Explaining their findings to company executives

A successful actuary has many personal characteristics such as:

  • Self-motivation
  • Independence
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Extensive math knowledge
  • Strong computer skills
  • Good communication skills

What Education/Training Does an Actuary Need?

To become an actuary, a felon must have a bachelor’s degree. Many colleges offer actuarial science programs.

Someone does not have to major in actuarial science to become an actuary, but should follow a degree program that has courses in:

  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Management
  • Computer science

An actuary must be certified before being able to work. Two professional societies, the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) accredit programs leading to professional status. The CAS and SOA offer two levels of certification: associate and fellow.

The CAS certifies actuaries that work in the property and casualty field, which includes medical malpractice and workers’ compensation insurance along with automobile and homeowners. The SOA certifies actuaries that work in life insurance, health insurance, investments, and finance.

Applicants also must pass seven exams for associate-level certification. Many employers expect students to have passed at least one or two of the initial actuary exams needed for professional certification before graduation from college.

It typically takes four to seven years for an actuary to earn the associate-level certification because each exam requires hundreds of hours of study and months of preparation.

How Much Does an Actuary Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are approximately 23,600 actuaries in the United States. The median annual pay for actuaries was $100,610 in 2016.

Experience will make a difference in how much an actuary earns annually. The area of the country in which an actuary works also makes a difference in their earnings. Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than an actuary that works elsewhere.

The job outlook for actuaries is very strong, with a growth of 22% expected between 2016 and 2026. This is well above average as financial and retirement concerns remain significant issues.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check.

Any felon that wants to get a degree in preparation for becoming an actuary can find a college that will accept him or her. A felon may have difficulty getting accepted into many schools, but there are ones that will accept him or her.

According to the Code of Ethics for actuaries, an actuary “shall act honestly and in a manner to uphold the reputation of the profession and to fulfill the profession’s responsibility to the public.”

A criminal background check for actuarial candidates typically reviews a person’s criminal history for the past 10 years.

These criteria will be included:

  • Social Security number validation
  • Felony convictions, especially for fraud, theft, or embezzlement

The state actuarial board will review each application on a case-by-case basis and typically considers the following:

  • Nature and severity of the crime
  • How recently the crime was committed
  • Indications of rehabilitation
  • Other related factors like any prior convictions

The board will make a determination for approval or denial of eligibility for licensing after evaluating the entire application. Those with a conviction for a financial crime will have a more difficult time being approved.

It is important to be honest while filling out an application when applying for school or certification as an actuary. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful as an actuary, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already seen with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming an actuary. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become an actuary. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in becoming an actuary.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become an actuary with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become an Actuary?”

    • Yes. There is a federal law that bars anyone who was convicted of a felony that involved dishonesty or beach of trust from working in insurance unless they get permission from the state DOI. Drunk driving and culpable homicide do not involve dishonesty or a beach of trust, so legally you can work in insurance. There are no additional laws restrictions convicts from working as an actuary, and neither of the major actuarial societies in the US (SOA and CAS) will deny you the credentials based on criminal history. Whether a company will actually hire you with that on your record is another question.


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