In the early part of your career, you can expect to work hard. Yes, we just said actuarial work is a 9-to-5 job, and it is & once you're established. But right now, you've got to prove yourself to your new employer and study hard for your next SOA or CAS exam. "I've been an actuary for six years, and I'm still studying," said one consulting actuary. "It never ends. Your bosses will want you to keep going, keep studying, keep taking the tests."
Thankfully, your employer will likely help you with the testing you need. Large corporations, especially insurers, will often have their own study courses. Indeed, the biggest insurers around, like MetLife and Aetna, will often have college graduates spending 50 percent or more of their time in the classroom, getting ready for the next exam.
You'll generally be expected to tackle a CAS/SOA exam every year to two years, depending on your ratio of work to study time. Smaller companies will have you doing real actuarial work and learning on the job, so you'll not be testing as much. Others, again mostly larger companies, will want you to have six to seven exams under your belt before you'll be free of the classroom and ready for more responsibility.
Either way, you can expect your salary to climb as each year passes and, more importantly, with each exam you pass. At most companies, passing another exam not only means a boost in your base pay, but likely a bonus on top of that, and more responsibility in your day-to-day job.
Congratulations! You're out of school and have landed your first actuarial job. You're making $50,000, maybe a little more, and you've probably got some money to help move too, maybe even a signing bonus. Not bad for someone in their early 20s! Now it's time to get to work.