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Actuary Vs. Data Scientist: Which One Pays More?

Discover the surprising salary difference between actuaries and data scientists and which profession pays more.

Are you someone who loves numbers and enjoys working with data? If so, you may be considering a career in either actuary or data science. Both fields require analytical skills and offer opportunities for high-paying jobs, but which one pays more?

Actuaries are professionals who use mathematical models to analyze the financial consequences of risk and uncertainty. They work primarily in insurance companies, consulting firms, and government agencies. Actuaries help these organizations determine the probability of certain events occurring, such as accidents or natural disasters, and then use this information to set insurance premiums or make other financial decisions.

On the other hand, data scientists also work with numbers but focus on analyzing complex data sets using machine learning algorithms. They help companies extract insights from their data that can be used to improve business performance or gain a competitive advantage.

In this article, we will compare salaries for actuary and data scientist positions to help you decide which path might be right for you.


  1. What Does An Actuary Do?
  2. What Does A Data Scientist Do?
  3. Salary Comparison: Actuary Vs Data Scientist
  4. Factors Affecting Salary In Each Field
  5. Which Field Is Right For You?
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Conclusion

What Does An Actuary Do?

As an actuary, your role is to analyze financial risk using mathematical modeling. You use past data to predict future events and determine the likelihood of them occurring. Your analysis helps businesses and organizations make informed decisions about investments and insurance coverage.

One of the primary responsibilities of an actuary is risk assessment. You work with large amounts of data to assess the probability of certain events happening, such as car accidents or natural disasters. This information allows insurance companies to determine their rates and ensure they have enough funds to cover potential claims.

Actuaries also play a crucial role in pension planning. By analyzing demographic trends and economic factors, you help determine how much money individuals will need for retirement and how much employers need to contribute to pension plans. With this information, individuals can plan for their golden years while employers can create effective retirement benefits packages for their employees.

What Does A Data Scientist Do?

A data scientist is responsible for deriving insights from large amounts of data using various statistical and computational techniques. They must possess a wide range of data science skills such as programming, statistics, machine learning, and data visualization. The role of a data scientist involves identifying business problems that can be solved with data and providing solutions to those problems.

One of the reasons why many people are attracted to a career in data science is the abundance of career growth opportunities available. Data scientists can work in various industries such as healthcare, finance, e-commerce, and social media. They can also move up the ladder to become senior data scientists or team leads. Additionally, they have the potential to specialize in specific areas such as natural language processing or computer vision.

Overall, having a career in data science can be both challenging and rewarding. With the increasing demand for professionals with advanced analytical skills, there is no doubt that this field will continue to grow in popularity.

For individuals who possess strong problem-solving skills and are interested in working with large datasets to drive business decisions, pursuing a career as a data scientist may be worth considering.

Salary Comparison: Actuary Vs Data Scientist

It’s no secret that salaries for both actuary and data scientist roles vary greatly depending on a number of factors.

Generally, though, actuary salaries tend to be higher than data scientist salaries.

That said, the amount of money you can make as a data scientist is still quite impressive.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual’s experience, location, and the specific job they’re looking at.

Actuary Salary

When it comes to a career in actuary, there is no doubt that the compensation package is one of the most attractive features.

In recent years, actuary job market trends have shown that this field has experienced steady growth and increased demand for skilled professionals. As a result, actuary salaries have remained competitive with other high-paying careers.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for actuaries was $108,350 in May 2020. This figure is significantly higher than the median wage for all occupations in the United States. Additionally, actuary career growth is projected to continue over the next decade due to an aging population and increased need for risk assessment in various industries.

However, it is important to note that earning potential within the field can vary based on factors such as location, industry specialization, and experience level. Actuaries working in certain areas or industries may be able to command higher salaries than others.

Nonetheless, overall actuarial compensation remains one of the top draws for those considering this challenging and rewarding career path.

Data Scientist Salary

Moving on to another high-paying career, data science has also become a sought-after field in recent years. With the rise of big data and artificial intelligence, the demand for skilled data scientists has increased, leading to a competitive salary package.

According to Glassdoor, the national average base salary for a data scientist is $113,309 per year in the United States. This figure may vary depending on factors such as location, industry specialization, and experience level.

It is worth noting that data scientist salaries have been on an upward trend in recent years due to the increasing demand for their skills. The demand for data scientists is projected to continue growing as more companies across various industries realize the benefits of using data to drive decision-making.

As a result, those considering a career in data science can expect competitive compensation packages while contributing their expertise towards solving complex business challenges.

Factors Affecting Salary In Each Field

In the actuarial field, there are certain factors that affect salary. One of these factors is experience. Actuaries with more years of experience tend to earn higher salaries than those who are just starting out.

Another factor is location. Actuaries who work in big cities tend to earn more than those who work in smaller towns or rural areas. This is because there is a higher demand for their skills in urban areas.

Similarly, data scientists’ salaries are also influenced by various factors. In-demand skills such as machine learning, programming languages, and data visualization can increase a data scientist’s earning potential.

Additionally, job market trends and industry growth can also play a role in determining salaries. As more companies invest in data science and analytics, the demand for skilled professionals increases, leading to higher salaries.

Overall, both actuary and data scientist fields offer competitive salaries with opportunities for growth. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and career goals when deciding which path to pursue.

Whether it’s working with numbers and statistics or analyzing large datasets, both fields require specialized skills that are highly valued in today’s job market.

Which Field Is Right For You?

As we have seen, there are several factors that can influence the salary in both actuarial and data science fields. However, when it comes to deciding which one pays more, the answer is not straightforward. It depends on various aspects such as experience, location, and industry.

Job market trends suggest that both actuarial science and data science fields have a promising future with high demand for skilled professionals. Actuaries will continue to be in demand in insurance companies, consulting firms, and government agencies. On the other hand, data scientists are needed in almost every industry to analyze large amounts of data and make informed decisions.

To succeed in either field and earn a good salary package, certain skills are required. Actuaries need strong mathematical skills, analytical thinking ability, knowledge of business operations and finance. Data scientists require expertise in programming languages like Python or R, database management systems like SQL or NoSQL, machine learning algorithms, and excellent communication skills.

To excel in actuarial science:

To excel in data science:

  • Earn a graduate degree in computer science or statistics.
  • Gain real-world experience by working on projects or contributing to open-source software.
  • Attend industry conferences and network with peers.

In conclusion, both actuary and data scientist careers offer excellent salary packages based on individual merit. The job market trends show growth potential for both fields with increasing demand for skilled professionals. However, each field requires different sets of skills that you must acquire to succeed. It’s essential to evaluate your interests and strengths before choosing your career path.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Job Outlook For Actuaries And Data Scientists?

Job growth and salary trends are important factors to consider when evaluating the job outlook for actuaries and data scientists.

In recent years, both professions have seen significant growth in demand due to the increasing reliance on data-driven decision-making across industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of actuaries is projected to grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, while data scientist jobs are expected to increase by 11%.

As for salary trends, both careers offer competitive compensation with actuary median wages at $108,350 per year and data scientist median wages at $98,230 per year.

With a positive job outlook and attractive salaries, these professions are worth considering for those interested in pursuing a career in data analysis.

What Are The Educational Requirements For Becoming An Actuary Or Data Scientist?

To become an actuary or a data scientist, you would need to meet certain educational requirements.

Both careers require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as mathematics, statistics, or computer science.

However, becoming an actuary also requires passing a series of exams administered by the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society.

For data scientists, having a master’s degree or PhD in data science or a related field can increase career advancement opportunities.

While salaries for both professions can be lucrative, there is no clear winner when it comes to which one pays more as it depends on various factors such as experience, industry, and location.

What Industries Hire Actuaries And Data Scientists?

Industries that hire actuaries and data scientists include insurance and technology, with each industry offering unique opportunities for career growth.

While actuary roles in the insurance industry typically come with high salaries, data scientists in the technology sector tend to report higher job satisfaction levels.

When comparing salaries between the two professions, it’s important to consider factors such as years of experience and level of education.

Ultimately, both fields offer lucrative career paths for those with strong analytical skills and a passion for problem-solving.

Do Actuaries And Data Scientists Have Similar Job Responsibilities?

Job market differences between actuaries and data scientists are significant, but they do share some similarities in their day-to-day tasks.

Actuaries are primarily responsible for analyzing and managing financial risk through mathematical models, whereas data scientists use statistical analysis and machine learning techniques to extract insights from large datasets.

However, both professions require strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate complex information effectively.

While there are some differences in job responsibilities between the two professions, the demand for skilled professionals in both fields is high.

Are There Any Certifications Or Licenses Required For Actuaries Or Data Scientists?

Certifications and licenses are often required for professionals in various industries.

Actuaries, for example, typically need to obtain the Associate of the Society of Actuaries or Fellow of the Society of Actuaries designation.

Data scientists, on the other hand, may benefit from certifications such as the Certified Analytics Professional or IBM Data Science Professional Certificate.

As for salary comparison between actuaries and data scientists, it ultimately depends on factors such as experience level, industry, and geographic location.

However, according to Glassdoor’s salary estimates, the median base pay for an actuary is around $97,000 while a data scientist’s median base pay is around $113,000.


In conclusion, the decision to pursue a career as an actuary or data scientist ultimately depends on one’s interests and skills. Both professions offer high-paying salaries and job security, with projected growth in demand for both fields.

The educational requirements for becoming an actuary may be more rigorous, but the potential for earning a higher salary is also greater. On the other hand, data science offers a wider range of industries to work in and potential for career advancement.

Ultimately, it is important to consider one’s personal strengths and interests when deciding which profession to pursue. Whether it be analyzing risk in insurance or utilizing mathematical models to extract insights from data sets, both actuaries and data scientists play vital roles in various industries and are highly valued for their expertise.