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Actuary vs. Doctor: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Actuaries and doctors are two very different professions. Actuaries use their knowledge of mathematics and statistics to assess risk and predict financial outcomes, while doctors use their medical knowledge to diagnose and treat patients. Both actuaries and doctors require a high level of education, but the path to becoming an actuary is much different from the path to becoming a doctor. In this article, we compare and contrast the two professions, and provide information on what you need to do to become an actuary or a doctor.

What is an Actuary?

Actuaries are typically employed by insurance companies to design and decide which policies and premiums to charge for different companies. They carefully analyze each policy to ensure it’ll be profitable and beneficial for companies to utilize. Some Actuaries may work for consulting firms, government entities or pension companies handling their property, life, casualty and health insurance policies. Actuaries typically gather statistical data to analyze, then they present these findings to government officials, shareholders, executives or other clients. They often create and use charts or graphs to better explain their projections, calculations and new policy plans.

What is a Doctor?

Doctors are medical professionals who diagnose and treat patients for a variety of illnesses and injuries. They examine patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications or other treatments. Doctors also counsel patients and their families on a variety of health-related topics, such as diet, exercise, and stress management. Doctors typically specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as family medicine, pediatrics, or surgery.

Actuary vs. Doctor

Here are the main differences between an actuary and a doctor.

Job Duties

Both actuaries and doctors have varied job duties, depending on their area of expertise. Actuaries often spend time analyzing data to determine the probability that certain events will occur. They might also develop models to help organizations manage risk more effectively. For example, an actuary might design a new health insurance program for a company based on demographic information about its employees.

In contrast, doctors typically provide medical care and treatment to patients. Depending on their specialty, they might perform surgeries, prescribe medications or offer counseling. A family doctor might see many patients each day, while a cardiologist might spend most of their workday performing heart tests and procedures on one patient.

Job Requirements

To become an actuary, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, actuarial science, statistics or another related field. You must also pass a series of exams administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). The number of exams required varies depending on which organization you choose to pursue your designation with, but it typically ranges from four to ten exams.

If you want to become a doctor, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree in a pre-medicine program. After completing your undergraduate studies, you must then attend medical school for four years and complete a residency program, which usually lasts three to seven years. Once you have completed your training, you must obtain a license from your state’s medical board.

Work Environment

Actuaries typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients. They spend most of their time using computers and analyzing data. Doctors usually work in a clinical environment, such as a hospital or doctor’s office. They often have irregular hours and work long shifts.

Actuaries can work for companies that provide insurance services, government agencies or consulting firms. Doctors can work for hospitals, private practices, research facilities or pharmaceutical companies.


Both actuaries and doctors need to have excellent problem-solving skills. Actuaries use their problem-solving skills to identify trends in data sets and develop solutions to mitigate financial risks. Doctors use their problem-solving skills to diagnose patients’ illnesses and create treatment plans.

Both actuaries and doctors need to be able to effectively communicate with others. Actuaries need to be able to explain complex financial concepts to those without an extensive background in the field. Doctors need to be able to explain medical procedures and diagnoses to patients and their families.

Actuaries need to have strong analytical skills. They use these skills to examine data sets, identify trends and make predictions about future events. Doctors also need to have strong analytical skills. They use these skills to examine test results, make diagnoses and develop treatment plans.

While both actuaries and doctors need to have a strong understanding of mathematics, actuaries need to have a more advanced understanding of statistics and probability. Doctors need to have a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology.


Actuaries earn an average salary of $124,755 per year, while doctors earn an average salary of $171,908 per year. The average salary for both professions may vary depending on the type of work you do, your location and your level of experience.


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