What is an “Actuary” anyway?

Most of you in my congregations know that before I was brought into the ministry I was an actuary.  While I started my post-college life off as a high school math teacher, once my wife and I began having children we agreed (as we had discussed before we married) that it would be best if we could rear our children with her at home instead of working outside the home, looking to God’s word as our model, encouragement, and guide.

Well, at the time I could not see doing that on a teacher’s salary, even finding other work during the summer.  And I did not want to take on a second job only to come home for a few hours a day to have my children look up and say, “Look, Uncle Daddy is here for a visit!”  As much as I could, I wanted the time to be just as involved with my children as my wife would be.

So, after a multitude of counsel (Prov. 24:6), which — then and since — seemed really inspired of God, I changed careers and became an actuary.  As much as it pained me to give up teaching mathematics (I know, it is hard to imagine how that could have been painful), I can say with the utmost confidence that the decision to do so was the beginning of enormous blessings for me and my family, and I am thankful for the advice that so directed me.

But, as I have talked with more and more people, it has become obvious that most do not even know what an “actuary” is.  It is one of those “behind the scenes” sort of careers that most of the publilc are unaware of, yet it is a career that much of our modern world depends on greatly.  In fact, just this week I spoke with someone who had an idea of what actuaries do but was interested in details.

So, in the interest of public education, I give you the following link:


This is a website created by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society to help educate others about the actuarial profession.  If you want to cut to the chase, you can go to the “What is an Actuary?” at the top lefthand side of the home page, which will take you to various links.  Among them is an article appropriately titled “What is an Actuary?” which gives as good a description of the profession as I have read.

So, if you have been waking up every night in a cold sweat, thinking to yourself, “I just MUST know what an actuary is!” then that is the site for you.  Or, if you are trying to settle on a career choice and have a talent for mathematics and logical thinking, you might check it out as well.  Or, if you’re just curious because “actuary” sounds sort of like “cemetery” (and I suppose there is a connection there), again, check it out.

[By the way, my wife just came in and looked over my shoulder to see what I was writing, and she told me her favorite answer that I ever gave to the question “What is an actuary?”  Apparently (according to her) I said, “You know those fit and muscular looking guys in black suits and sunglasses who seem to appear out of nowhere whenever the President of the United States is threatened in some way, and who have trained and committed themselves to sacrificing their own lives if need be for his safety?  Well, those aren’t actuaries.”  <Sigh>  We should all have at least one person in our life who thinks we’re as funny as we try to be… :)]

3 thoughts on “What is an “Actuary” anyway?

  1. That was indeed a very funny answer…to me! Defining an actuary via contrast to its effective opposite! Brilliant! So now you have at least two persons in your life who think (on that occasion anyway) you were as funny as you tried to be.

    יוחנן רכב

  2. Pingback: Presidential panel gets it right on math education « Thoughts En Route

  3. Pingback: East Missouri LCG » Blog Archive » Windy City Greetings!

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