If you love data and statistics, there are many careers you could choose from. All industries are looking for people who are good at math and statistics, which opens up many career opportunities for you. One such career opportunity is becoming an actuary. Actuaries deal with risk, using data and numbers to predict the future and help businesses make decisions and navigate the future.
Their ability to work with numbers makes them highly sought after in the insurance industry, but actuaries can work in different businesses and industries. If you are interested in becoming an actuary, this is a practical guide on how to become one.
Be Keen on Relevant Subjects in High School and College
Businesses require that an actuary has at least a bachelor’s degree to be considered for a position. However, relevant education for an actuary begins in high school. The main subject you should be keen on is AP math which will teach you the math skills you need to be a great actuary.
In college, majoring in actuarial science will help. However, many people also try to find opportunities to study statistics, business, economics, and finance, so they are well-rounded actuaries when they leave college.
Also, try to get into computer science classes because actuaries work with computers, spreadsheets, and various programming languages.
Pursue a Certification
To become a practicing actuary and improve your chances of getting a job quickly, consider a certification. Earning these certifications involves taking the Financial Mathematics Exam (Exam FM) and the Probability exam (Exam P). Ideally, you should complete these exams before graduation.
The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) offer relevant certifications. Taking their certification exams and joining either of these societies leads to vastly different career outlooks. For example, the SOA certification suits those who plan on entering insurance and finance-related industries, while those who want to work on casualty and property risk should join the CAS.
Improve Your Technical Skills
Actuaries rely on their computer and technical skills a lot throughout their careers, and so it is important to develop these skills as early as possible. You could take computer science classes in college as discussed above. You can also take courses on specific topics like Excel, Visual Basic for Applications, and programming languages like SQL. These skills complement your mathematics and statistical skills and help you work with data easily.
Get an Internship
Many actuaries recommend that you start looking for an internship before you graduate. The reason is that, once you graduate, you will not have a lot of time to find an internship. It is a good idea to find one in an industry you are interested in, such as data analysis or risk management.
It gets easier to find a solid internship opportunity with a strong resume, certification, and having honed your technical skills. This is the time to build connections that will help you when you start looking for a job and learn how to apply all your knowledge.
Many employers expect that you have a few years of experience, and an internship is a great way to get it.
Find a Job
Once you complete your internship, it is time to find a job. The first places you can look should be insurance agencies and businesses that require actuaries. The certification exams you pass, plus your experience, skills, and connections, will play a big role in helping you land a job.
The society you join, whether the SOA or CAS, can also be instrumental in helping you find a job. If you are not happy with the state of the job market, you could always start an actuary business. Remember that you will need to go through the process of opening a business, and do not forget to get actuary insurance. Actuary insurance will help protect your business from general and commercial liability, as well as professional liability.
Becoming an actuary requires completing a bachelor’s degree, having some certification, getting some experience through an internship, and having the technical skills required. Although this career path can seem long, the good news is that this career option is very stable, and businesses of all kinds are always looking for actuaries. In addition, the salary is excellent, even for those just starting out.