What is an Actuary?
Actuaries perform mathematical analyses of large sets of data to predict things like the performance of pension funds or the profitability of insurance policies. Actuary has been rated as the second best profession by the Jobs Rated Almanac. Actuaries are well-compensated for their work, and demand for actuaries is high. The work is challenging and involves many applications of mathematics, especially probabilistic modeling and statistics, to investment, pensions, and insurance.
How to Become an Actuary
Courses and Activities
You will need a strong grounding in probability and statistics; other upper division mathematics that require data analysis and modeling are also good. Consider business courses such as accounting, management, finance, and economics to increase your career options. Make sure you acquire some computer programming skills. Actuaries require communications skills: courses in English, speech, and business communications will help. Since actuaries are involved in a variety of social and political issues, courses in the social sciences and humanities will help round out your capabilities.
Actuaries typically work as part of a team, or within a corporate structure. Activities that give you opportunities to develop your skills as a team player are a plus, as are those that allow you to become a leader.
To progress, you will need to complete a series of exams. An employer will expect you to have passed the first one or two exams before applying for a job. The first exam covers calculus and linear algebra, the second exam covers probability and statistics, and other exams cover numerical analysis, operations research, and regression and time series. The more exams you pass, the easier to find a job and the higher the salary. Once hired, you can expect substantial support from your employer to prepare for future exams, including paid study time and reimbursement for study materials and exam fees. As you pass exams, your work becomes more valuable, resulting in raises and/or bonuses.
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