How to be an actuary (Part 3)

By Bunmi Ojo

Frequently asked Questions

  1. What courses should I study to become an actuary?To prepare for an actuarial career, you should take three semesters of calculus, two semesters of probability and statistics, two semesters of economics, one or two semesters of corporate finance, business communications and a well-rounded group of liberal arts courses.
  2. What degrees are appropriate to an actuarial career? Are jobs in the actuarial field limited solely to individuals with an actuarial science/math/statistics degree?Actuarial science, math, statistics, economics, business and finance degrees are all good training for an actuarial career. However, actuaries come from a variety of educational backgrounds. Actuaries may have majors in areas such as operations research, physics, engineering, and even fine arts. 
While majoring in actuarial science or math in college will benefit someone wanting to be an actuary, you are not required to major in these fields to be an actuary. It is the ability to pass actuarial exams that determines if one is eligible to enter the profession.
  3. Does it help me to have a graduate degree?Not necessarily; most actuaries earn a bachelor’s degree, but do not pursue advanced degrees. However, you might consider a graduate degree in math or actuarial science if your undergraduate degree was in an unrelated field, or if you heard about the profession later in life.
  4. What types of scholarship opportunities are available for those interested in pursuing an actuarial degree? There are a number of scholarship opportunities for students pursuing a career in actuarial science.

Career Outlook: Growing as an actuary.

The actuarial profession is perfect for individuals who enjoy challenges and problems solving. Those who develop a track-record of success will have many opportunities for growth and advancement.

Most employers of actuaries award merit increases as you gain experience and pass the actuarial examinations. Most companies also offer cash bonuses, salary increases, and promotions for each professional designation achieved.

Skills acquired by actuaries, especially the quantitative analysis of risk, are valued in the marketplace. As such, those who have the will to succeed can aspire to career advancement with an actuarial credential.