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Reassuring News for Actuarial Science

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According to some experts, Canada's jobs market is still facing a difficult time, with
54,000 jobs being lost in October alone, a blow that put the country's unemployment level at 7.3 percent.

However, there is reassuring news for anybody in the actuarial profession: a new report from the U.S. says that 100 percent of the country's actuarial science graduates find a job.

The figure was revealed in 2010 U.S. Census data published by the Wall Street Journal, which also said that actuarial science ranked as 150th in the list of most popular subjects for American students. Business administration and management, which has an unemployment rate of 6 percent, topped the list, followed by general business and accounting. The least popular subject, in 173rd place, was military technologies.

Actuarial science is one of six fields of study that have a zero unemployment rate in the U.S., with the others including astronomy and astrophysics, pharmacology, and geological and geophysical engineering. As a comparison, according to the latest report from Service Canada, Canadians with a bachelor's degree in actuarial science had a zero unemployment rate from 2001 to 2007, and a "low" rate in 2009.

The census also said that actuarial science was one of the best-paid majors for American graduates: with a median income of $87,000 a year, such graduates are 13th in a salary table that has petroleum engineers in first place (median income $127,000 a year) and school student counsellors in last ($20,000 a year).

News of actuarial science graduates' success rate comes in the same year as actuary was once again identified as one of the top jobs. The combination of working environment, relatively low stress, minimal physical demands and good hiring outlook puts actuary in third place in the list of best jobs of 2011, behind software engineers and mathematicians.

Each year, analysts survey 200 different professions to determine how gratifying each would be for a majority of workers, and in 2010 they identified actuary as the best job in America. It fell to third this year, CareerCast said, as a result of uncertainty over insurance industry regulation that affected actuaries' stress levels and employment outlook.

If anybody is considering a change of career and wonders which profession to avoid, the answer is: roustabout. Thanks to 12-hour shifts in isolated and hostile working environments, low pay (their median income is $32,143) and high risk of injury, those who maintain oil rigs and pipelines are judged to have the worst job in America.

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