Sep 25, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

It's no secret that STEM careers are often lucrative ones. But just how lucrative? And which ones, to be exact?

A Bankrate.com study of 162 majors found that actuarial science is most lucrative.

Actuarial science majors bring home an average annual salary of $108,658. While it is not the highest average pay, it has a great job outlook, with an unemployment rate of only 2.3 percent.

Another advantage of actuarial science is you only need a bachelor's degree for it. Only 22 percent of actuarial science majors have advanced degrees.

In a recent article in Forbes, Adrian Garcia, a data analyst with Bankrate, said, "That’s really unique that you can earn six figures and do that with a bachelor’s degree."

What do actuaries do, exactly? The short version: they analyze the financial consequences of risk. In essence, they assess the chances of something happening and mitigate ways to prevent undesirable things from happening. They have specialized math skills, and also computer science skills. They generally work for insurance and consulting companies.  

Garcia explained, "It’s obviously one of the toughest majors, and we probably don’t hear a lot of people in our elementary school classes saying they want to grow up and be actuaries."

He added, "It’s very rigorous in statistics and math, and I think you do have to have an interest. But if you were interested in math to begin with, actuarial science is a practical use of a math degree.”

Learn more about actuarial science.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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