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Many jobs in the insurance and financial industries are highly competitive and require significant educational credentials. To become an actuarial assistant, you have to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in a math-related major, take a number of qualifying exams given by an actuary trade association and be proficient with the statistical data modeling programs that are commonly used. A higher salary is sometimes available for this position if you have a master's degree and some relevant experience.
An actuarial assistant works on the statistical models upon which insurance products and annuities are based. The models establish the likelihood of payout based on risk factors. In this way, insurance companies determine if it will be profitable to offer a certain type of insurance, and how much they should charge in premiums to offset the risk of payout. Actuarial assistants perform research, work with the statistics programs and help complete the actuary sections of financial reports.
In the business industry, an assistant's title typically indicates an entry-level position that needs very little specific experience. Titles such as office assistant, marketing assistant and executive assistant often require few specific credentials. This is not the case with an actuarial assistant position. Actuarial assistants are more in line with legal, marketing or accounting associates, and the position requirements are actually quite rigorous.
To become an actuarial assistant, you should pursue a bachelor's degree in actuarial sciences, math, finance or statistics. One you have a bachelor's degree, you must obtain subject-matter certifications in various subjects from an actuary trade association. Typically, an actuarial assistant position will require you to have taken exams in probability, financial mathematics, models for life contingencies and the construction and evaluation of actuarial models.
The exams and the preparatory courses are given by the trade association. With a bachelor's degree, you may be able to test out of some courses if you have taken economics, corporate finance and applied statistics in school. This trade-specific coursework leads to certificate as an associate of the trade association, with the satisfaction of some additional requirements, such as passing a professional responsibility course. Completion of the certification is not typically necessary to become an actuarial assistant, but it can only help your chances of being selected for the job.
Functionally, the procedure to become an actuarial assistant is somewhat similar to the type of process a person has to go through to become a stockbroker. Both positions require you to demonstrate specific knowledge through testing, before you can get an entry-level job in the industry. The other important skill you will need to become an actuarial assistant is proficiency with computerized statistical modeling programs. You may have been exposed to these programs in school, but if not, you can obtain training from the software vendors or through continuing education classes offered by trade associations.
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