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How does one go about being an actuary?

creamgethamoneycreamgethamoney Posts: 589Registered User Member
edited November 2010 in Other College Majors
Hi,

I was wondering what would be a good 4 year plan in college for someone who wants to be an actuary in terms of extra curriculars and work experience. I already know that it is a good idea to take a lot of math, computer science, and business classes, but what about work experience? For freshman and sophomore years, would working/interning for a company be a good idea? And what if there are no actuary firms in my state that would let me work there (I live in OR) since it's a small state? How do I get work experience as an actuary then?

Also, does prestige of your school matter for being an actuary?

Thanks
Post edited by creamgethamoney on
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Replies to: How does one go about being an actuary?

  • mathboy98mathboy98 Posts: 3,752Registered User Senior Member
    I think you should try to do well on the actuarial exams, and I can't see stuff like work experience being a bad idea, though I am unfamiliar with the details. I'm a math major heading down the academic track, so this was just something I mildly considered.
  • Euler321Euler321 Posts: 597Registered User Member
    Make sure that math course load includes probability and stats.
  • Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
    Your best bet is to major in actuarial science.

    It will directly lead you to pass the exams and it will give you the best job opportunities.

    Only few schools have the major.

    A good school that has it is Penn State's Smeal Business School.
  • creamgethamoneycreamgethamoney Posts: 589Registered User Member
    Definitely don't want to major in actuarial science even if I could since it's an extremely narrow major, and I would be completely screwed if I don't get hired as an actuary.

    But, not that this is that important, why do people say actuaries make a lot? The average salary is only around 75k, and since very few people pass any test to begin with, how many people are up there making 6 figures? Also, just how bad are the tests to pass?
  • BigGBigG Posts: 3,885Registered User Senior Member
    SOA - Society Of Actuaries
    Casualty Actuarial Society: Home

    You can check out requirements at the links above.

    Actuaries have to be good in math (understatement).ROFLOL.
    If a CPA is an All-American athelete then actuaries
    are Olympic champions.
  • Euler321Euler321 Posts: 597Registered User Member
    Sine when were CPAs good at math? Don't they just do arithmetic?
  • mdocmdoc Posts: 442Registered User Member
    I agree that CPAs don't need a lot of math beyond arithmetic. Accounting was one of my majors, and although I had to take 2 semesters of calculus and a semester of statistics as part of my course requirements, I can't think of a time I actually used either calculus or statistics in connection with accounting. There's no comparison between the math skills necessary for accounting and those required of an actuary.
  • Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
    Definitely don't want to major in actuarial science even if I could since it's an extremely narrow major, and I would be completely screwed if I don't get hired as an actuary.

    If you pass a couple exams and have a good GPA, you are essentially guaranteed a job after graduation (as an actuarial analyst at first). There is a very high demand for actuaries, and a low supply. And a very good job that pays a lot, too. Most likely in a major city. And you're wrong about it being narrow. Penn State's actuarial science majors also get jobs that finance majors get, for example. They are not just narrowed down to being actuaries if they choose otherwise.





    But, not that this is that important, why do people say actuaries make a lot? The average salary is only around 75k, and since very few people pass any test to begin with, how many people are up there making 6 figures? Also, just how bad are the tests to pass?


    Actuaries definitely make a lot. Especially if you find a job in a major city, which is common. I know kids with act. science degrees who graduated college with a $80-90,000 starting salary (with 2 or 3 exams passed). And they get like a $10,000 raise for each additional exam they pass after graduation. More experience also leads to boosted salaries. Average salaries are misleading because it depends on the # of exams passed, and many less capable people who only pass like 1 exam are making a lot less. Most actuaries who have a decent amount of experience and exams passed (like say 5) have 6-figure salaries. The most accomplished ones are making $200-300,000 when they're like 40 years old.
  • creamgethamoneycreamgethamoney Posts: 589Registered User Member
    yo, Lil Wayne, thanks for the response (even though I severely disagree with your taste in favorite rap artists :) ).

    So I have a question about these actuarial exams. Are they offered in every state, or is it only in the big states where you'll find them? Also, just HOW difficult are the exams. I'm sure they are tough, but are they so difficult though that you basically have to be a math genius to do it? I mean, I'm not bad at math since I took AP Calculus BC in high school (which means I'm generally good compared to most of the population), but I'm by no means a super genius at math.
  • Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
    Oh, by the way, not sure where you got the 75k average salary from

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos041.htm

    If you scroll down to the "Earnings" section, it says the average salary was $83,000 in 2006, and it probably has risen since then

    But like I said, average salary is misleading for this job. It's all relative to how many exams you want to pass or do pass.

    Because many people decide to stop taking exams early. If you choose to keep studying and pass more exams (there are 9), you will make significantly more money.
  • Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
    Double post
  • ZellZell Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Best website to answer every question:

    Be An Actuary

    Don't worry about not being hired; that's the least of your worries. If you have even one exam under your belt and some internship experience, you'll almost surely get a job somewhere. The more exams you pass, the better. What you need to worry about is passing those exams :p
  • creamgethamoneycreamgethamoney Posts: 589Registered User Member
    hey thanks for the replies, Mr. Make it rain on them hoes, but do you have any idea about how difficult those exams are, and my whole question about whether it takes someone genius at math to do those generally?
  • Lil_Wayne_FanLil_Wayne_Fan Posts: 461Registered User Member
    1. The exams are very hard. Supposedly the first 3 or 4 are easier, then it starts to get much tougher. Average rate of passing is around 35%. The good thing is, it doesn't matter what score you got on the exam, just whether or not you passed/failed. So acing it or barely passing it makes no difference. You just have to pass.

    2. You don't have to be a genius at math. But you have to LIKE math. Because you will need to do hundreds of hours of studying for each exam. The exams will not simply be memorization, so you need to have good problem-solving skills.
  • MelsmomMelsmom Posts: 1,040Registered User Member
    Great major for a math wiz that loves the competition of passing the next exam to get to that next level. Some time ago I did some proofing for a consultant that was providing information on actuarial salaries from a survey conducted. The numbers even then were astronomical! The higher the number of exams passed the huger the salary... and the bonuses were even crazier.
    I encouraged my niece to look into it as she was floundering thinking she wanted to be an engineer. She's now majoring in Actuary at UCONN & loves it. She'll graduate with two exams passed & should be able to thank me properly someday! lol
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