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Please review the list of frequently asked questions submitted to our mentoring committee. Click on a topic to see the full list of questions and answers. If your question is not covered, you may submit a question in the “Submit A Question” link below.

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS


Question: What does an actuary do? What are the different career track options available to actuarial students?Answer: Actuaries quantify and manage risk. Because of their unique skill set they work in various industries.  Find more information in the following locations: Beanactuary.org and bls.gov


Question: How should international actuarial students break into the US industry?
Answer: The Casualty Actuarial Society has useful information for international students here.


Question: Why should I consider the actuarial profession?

Answer: Actuaries boast having job security, high salaries, and a marked impact on senior level business decisions as a few of the many benefits of the profession. Many publications have consistently rated the profession as one of the best in America.
Beanactuary.org has more detailed information here.
The Casualty Society also has some useful information here.

 

Question: What is the day to day job of an actuary like? What kind of work will I be doing?
Answer: Generally speaking, an actuary's daily activities depend on the type of actuary. Early in your career, you would probably spend more time working with data and actuarial models, so knowing Excel and a programming language would be very helpful. As you progress, you'll be expected to have stronger presentation skills and communication skills.

For more information please visit the following web pages at Beanactuary.org and soa.org.


Question: Where can I find more information about the actuarial profession?

Answer: There are several sources of information for those interested in the actuarial profession. Here are a few of the more popular ones:

Be An Actuary is a very informative website jointly sponsored by the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries. It's a go to spot for all things actuarial.

The Society of Actuaries, through research and education, advances actuarial knowledge and improves decision making to benefit society.

The Casualty Actuarial Society fulfills its mission to advance actuarial science through a singular focus on research and education for property and casualty actuarial practice.

Actuarial Outpost is a forum where credentialed actuaries, actuarial analysts, students, etc. come together to exchange information and ideas. You can start a thread about the industry, a potential job opening, career advice, or even on a really specific exam question.


BECOMING AN ACTUARY


Question: I have experience in another field but I am interested in the actuarial profession. What steps should I take to make a career change?
Answer: It's never too late to consider becoming an actuary. For more information please visit the Career Changer's page on Beanactuary.org.

The Actuary - A Career Change: Elizabeth M. Mauro Reimbursement Program - offers financial assistance to career changers. See more here.

For general information on the actuarial industry and how to get started in the profession please visit Society of Actuaries Website.


Question: I am a recent college graduate/soon to graduate college. What should I do to get into the actuarial profession?
Answer: Becoming an actuary boils down to taking a number of mathematical/analytic-type examinations leading up to an actuarial credential. The rule is basically the more exams you pass, the more likely it is that an actuarial employer will want to hire you. Most companies will not hire entry-level actuarial students unless they have already passed at least 1 exam.

You may find some useful information at the following pages from Beanactuary.org:

How do I get started?
Sample Actuarial Exam Questions

Here are some topics that actuarial exam and study manuals (most likely) will not teach you and will simply assume that you already know:

Basic Limits
Differentiation
Methods of Integration
Multiple Integrals
Summations of sequences
Matrix multiplication
Basic knowledge of insurance and risk management

 

Question: I am a high school student interested in the actuarial profession. What should I be doing in order to become an actuary?
Answer: It's never too early to begin planning a career as an actuary. For further guidance please visit the High School page on beanactuary.org.


Question: I am a freshman in college, planning to major in mathematics. What should I do to get into the actuarial profession?

Answer: It is never too early to begin planning a career as an actuary. Here are some tips and pointers:

  1. Make a goal to get an internship in the summer your senior year of college - the things you do in the next 2-3 years will really set you up for that.
  2. Take and pass an actuarial exam. P (statistics and probability) or FM (interest theory) are highly recommended. With a mathematics major, you should be looking to start taking exams by the end of your first or second year.
  3. Take courses on economics and corporate finance for VEE credits and business communications for tips on writing memos, letters, and reports. Early in your career it’s important to not only be good at math but you also need strong communication and problem solving skills.
  4. Learn the Microsoft Office package and VBA. Take a programming class.
  5. Visit Casualty Student Central to see an outline of things you should be thinking about as a college student who wants to be an actuary.
  6. Visit SOA careers webpage to see a list of companies that have internship programs and actuarial student programs.
  7. University involvement goes a long way in the interview process and shows that you are rounded.
  8. Use the summers wisely to study for an actuarial exam.
  9. Get a summer job even if it is unrelated to actuarial science so that you have work experience references when you are interviewing and get behavioral questions.

 

Question: How difficult is it to break into the actuarial profession for persons who did not major in mathematics or statistics in university?
Answer: Actuaries usually major in actuarial science, statistics or mathematics in college. However, you are not required to major in these fields in order to become an actuary. Becoming an actuary has more to do with one's ability to pass actuarial exams. Additional educational background in areas such as economics, computer science, and business writing are directly applicable to the profession. Skills, such as analytical skills and drive for results are important for success in the profession.


EDUCATION


Question: Where can one find university programs with actuarial science?
Answer: The Society of Actuaries has a listing of colleges with actuarial science programs here


Question: My school does not have a formal actuarial program. What courses should I take to assist me in becoming an actuary?
Answer: A formal actuarial program, though beneficial, is not necessary for a career as an actuary.
For more information on courses to take please visit the Education FAQ's on Beanactuary.org.
The Casualty Society also has some useful information here:


JOBS & INTERNSHIPS

 

Question: What should I do to secure an internship or full-time position as an actuary?
Answer: The following article provides useful tips for future actuaries as it relates to finding jobs.
Visit the Society of Actuaries Career's Page to see a list of companies that have internship programs and actuarial student programs.


Question: Is there any specific advice you can give to for actuarial interviews?
Answer: For all career related advice please visit the following webpages:

Black Actuaries Internship Page

Casualty Central Student Career Resources

Society of Actuaries Career Resources

Be An Actuary Job Resources


Question: Do you have any advice about completing an actuarial resume?
Answer: For all career related advice please visit the following webpages:

Black Actuaries Internship Page

Casualty Central Student Career Resources

Society of Actuaries Career Resources

Be An Actuary Job Resources


Question: What should I do if I have passed a number of actuarial exams but I am unable to find an entry-level position?

Answer: There are several things to consider if you are not getting any traction in your job search. Are you only focusing on one industry? Consider having someone else look at your resume. Is it drawing attention to your strengths?

If you want to be more competitive:

  1. pass another exam (Note if searching for an entry-level position you should be aware that the market usually discourages candidates from passing more than three exams without any experience.)
  2. make sure your resume is the best in the bunch (formatting, wording, etc.), right now it's the only thing they have to go on until they meet you
  3. start preparing for interviews before you get one - read an interview book, prepare questions ahead of time for yourself and practice your answers and get feedback on the answers you've chosen. When you do land an interview, research the company and make sure to show your interest by asking questions
  4. strengthen your programming and/or Excel skills (depending on what types of jobs you're applying for).
  5. Visit soa.org and contact credentialed actuaries in the industry. They may have information on potential openings that aren’t posted on their company website.
  6. Apply to non-actuarial positions in similar industries such as Finance and Underwriting while you take more actuarial exams. You may transfer into a company’s actuarial department if a position opens up.

 

EXAMS


Question: What are actuarial exams? Are there any criteria to sit for these exams? What advice do you have for students sitting for exams?
Answer: In order to become a credentialed actuary students must take a series of exams. The rule is basically the more exams you pass; the more likely it is that an actuarial employer will want to hire you. Most companies will not hire entry-level actuarial students unless they have already passed at least 1 exam.

Early in your career you’ll take a series of preliminary exams that are common for all actuarial candidates. Later in the process, the exam requirements vary depending on the credentialing organization. The following links provide useful information:

Be An Actuary Exams

Casualty Student Central Exams

Society of Actuaries Exams

Casualty Student Central Study Tools


Question: What is a reasonable study schedule like for the actuarial exams? How much time should one expect to devote per exam?
Answer: The exams are challenging and do require a huge time commitment. The Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society, the organizations that administer exams in the US, recommend at least 100 hours per hour of exam sitting, i.e. if your exam is 4 hours in length then you will need to study at least 400 hours to be prepared for that exam.

It will be up to you to realistically spread out those hours and determine how many months you will need. Make sure to include a few more hours for distractions that will inevitably arise during those months of studying.

Here are some links to resources that help you prepare for the exams:

Society of Actuaries Exam Resources

Casualty Actuarial Society Study Tools

Actuarial Outpost Exam Threads


SCHOLARSHIPS


Question: Can you provide more information about the scholarships IABA awards to students? Are there any other scholarship opportunities for students interested in the actuarial profession?
Answer: The International Association of Black Actuaries scholarship program advances its mission by providing scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate level to qualified black students who are interested in pursuing an actuarial career. For more information please use the link below:

IABA Scholarships

There are also several other scholarship programs for students interested in the actuarial profession. For more information please use the link below:

Be an Actuary Scholarship page

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James R. HoustonJR is pursuing his degree in Actuarial Science at Florida State University

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