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Why be an engineer when you can be an actuary?

Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
edited March 2011 in Engineering Majors
If you're smart enough to be a good engineer then you can certainly pass most of the actuarial exams if you study hard

Engineers' salary tops out at around 100k

Actuaries make over 200k

http://www.dwsimpson.com/salary.html
Post edited by Lil_Wayne_Fan on
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Replies to: Why be an engineer when you can be an actuary?

  • QwertyKeyQwertyKey Posts: 4,590Registered User Senior Member
    Okay, well, for one, engineering is far better at guaranteeing a job than actuarial science. Employers don't hire every 2.5 math student from a tier 2 state school for actuarial jobs. Second, those numbers seem misleading. You see 200K+ salaries for people with 15-20 years experience and all exams passed. A good engineer with 15-20 years experience has plenty of options for 100K+ jobs, especially in management.

    Actuarial science is a great field to go into as well, but it has it's own pros and cons, it's not better than engineering in every way or anything like that.
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,882Registered User Senior Member
    I admit I don't know much about being an actuary, but from what I have read, it doesn't sound particularly interesting to me. Seems like one of those jobs where you sit in your cubicle in front of the cubicle all day crunching numbers?
  • crimsonbearcrimsonbear Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
    Why not get a degree in engineering, and then a masters in actuarial/mathematics? That's a broad range of jobs right there.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Posts: 5,361Registered User Senior Member
    If you're smart enough to be a good engineer then you can certainly pass most of the actuarial exams if you study hard

    Engineers' salary tops out at around 100k

    Actuaries make over 200k

    For a couple reasons:

    Actuarial science is boring as mud compared to engineering if you ask me. Who would find it exciting to sit there and just assess risk all day when I could be making atmospheric reentry vehicles, for example.

    Engineers do NOT top out around $100k. Not even close. If you want to be a peon at a large company and never go into management and never advance beyond peon, then yeah I guess $100k is about as high as you will get. The career path that I am hoping for would put me well into the upper $100k to lower $200k range by the time I am 40 or so. Not too shabby. Still, I would argue that engineering peon-ship is still a lot more interesting than being an actuary to me.

    Money isn't everything. Far from it. I do what I love, not what will pay the most money for the least work (and I don't think being an actuary is as easy as you make it out to be, either).
  • rogracerrogracer Posts: 1,204Registered User Senior Member
    Purely technical careers in the major aerospace companies "top out" closer to 200K. Depending on bonuses for things like process-improvement and patent-awards, you can go higher.
  • ME 76ME 76 Posts: 321Registered User Member
    Lil_Wayne_Fan, you have been hanging around the business majors board too much. I don't know where you or others get the idea that engineering tops out around 100k. This is not true at all. It is like you tell yourselves this to justify not majoring in engineering or something. 100k is closer to mid career than a maximum. I can tell you that most actuaries do not make 200k either. Making a statement that actuaries make over 200k is very misguided and you are naive to think that all actuaries make this. According to the link you cited, the 200k range for actuaries requires a lot of experience and likely represents the very top of the profession or even managers as your link mentions. If you look at other salary cites for actuaries, the numbers are not this high. The link you posted is probably a very small sample size also.

    In engineering, a technical specialist, consultant or an engineering manager can make well over 100k. You need to get your facts straight. Both careers are very solid but you should realize that salary statistics on one website don't tell the entire story, not to mention that many people, including myself, think that engineering is much more interesting than actuarial science.
  • NukewarmNukewarm Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    I'm not sold on the idea that any kind of 9-5 job can get you rich, regardless of the large numbers I see continually thrown around here.

    Here's my thinking. You're either doing one of two things:

    A. Working a 9-5 job and making enough money to live comfortably (50k-100k+)
    B. Doing/making something unique/new, and banking a pantload of cash

    IMO, the chance of coming up with a truly original idea or invention is much higher if your day job is something that you actually like (read: engineering), as opposed to something you're doing for the money (read: actuary).

    So no, I don't think I'll be selling my soul to the banking/lawyer groups just yet.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    I admit I don't know much about being an actuary, but from what I have read, it doesn't sound particularly interesting to me. Seems like one of those jobs where you sit in your cubicle in front of the cubicle all day crunching numbers?

    Ha! As opposed to many engineering jobs...where you sit in your cubicle all day long crunching numbers.
    Actuarial science is boring as mud compared to engineering if you ask me. Who would find it exciting to sit there and just assess risk all day when I could be making atmospheric reentry vehicles, for example.

    I wish all engineers could have projects as interesting as designing atmospheric re-entry vehicles. But the reality is that many engineers are assigned to boring tasks with minimal opportunity for creativity. For example, many engineers are stuck providing tech support for products that even the company has acknowledged are obsolete and are no longer being sold, but is still contractually obligated to support. {For example, Cisco stopped selling the 2600 series routers in 2003, but was still required to provide engineering support fixes for them until 2008.} Honestly, who really wants to be stuck supporting obsolete products? I know I certainly don't. I doubt that any engineering student dreams of that. But, sadly, that is the fate of many engineers. I suspect many of them would prefer to be actuaries.

    I certainly agree that if you can garner a cool engineering job that allows you to build cutting-edge engineering projects, you should certainly do so. But what if you don't get those opportunities?
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,882Registered User Senior Member
    Ha! As opposed to many engineering jobs...where you sit in your cubicle all day long crunching numbers.

    Even with the boring engineering jobs, there's something tangible to attach the number crunching too. Many engineers I know spend quite some time out in the field, perhaps one day a week. Heck, the structural engineer on my project, is out on my site one day a week and he's a vice president.
  • Mr PayneMr Payne Posts: 8,850Registered User Senior Member
    Frankly, BLS statistics make no sense to me.

    The petroleum engineer salaries are very low (median salary is probably 155K, 110K listed). If you have 20 years experience in petroleum engineering you are making 200K/year. Simple as that.
  • yg7s7yg7s7 Posts: 876Registered User Member
    I used to consider becoming an actuary, because of how news articles make a big deal about how good that job is:P. When I went to online forums for actuaries there were many people who complained that they couldn't find a job even with having exams passed and good gpa, while some people argued it's because of the economy and called them minorities. Someone even blatantly said this field is dying and you shouldn't even waste your time and money to bother studying for actuarial exams. It seems like even if you have passed 2~3 actuarial exams, it's hard to get a job unless you have undergrad internship experience or really good connections. Anyway, I myself took down the idea of becoming one because I tanked my probability class lol
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    Frankly, I trust government studies over anonymous Internet forums for facts. Just saying.
  • lucky2010lucky2010 Posts: 1,465Registered User Senior Member
    I don't know, simply: because I don't want to go into actuary.

    People keep asking me why I don't go into computer science or get my MBA, that I'd make more money. I'm not going to be in the poor house as an engineer and I want to do something I'm more likely to enjoy and that's engineering. I don't care to be in business or in front of a computer programming all day. Actuary is like an accountant/probability person right? So no, it's not for me.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    "or in front of a computer programming all day."
    - I have a baby seal clubbed every time anybody says this.
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