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How do I Become an Actuary?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Actuaries help to design insurance plans and pension plans so that the plans are financially sound. For example, their knowledge of statistics and business enables actuaries to assess the risk of various life events such as death, injury, illness, disability, or property loss in order to develop insurance plans that minimize the cost of the risk. The job might also entail creating new investment methods or helping to manage government programs. To become an actuary, you generally will need a college degree, college internship experience, post-graduate work experience, and successful completion of required professional exams.

To become an actuary, it is important to get a college degree in math, economics, finance, statistics, or actuarial science because a degree in any of these areas will give you the academic background that you need to be successful as an actuary. Pursuing the actuarial profession can be competitive. Thus, getting good grades can be essential — a high grade point average (GPA) will be something that many prospective employers will want to see.

During college, it can be helpful for you to participate in an actuarial internship, as well. The career services department should be able to help you apply for an internship. If you want to become an actuary, doing an internship is important because an internship can provide you with valuable supervised experience to help supplement your classroom learning.

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It can also be essential to begin taking the required actuarial professional exams during college. These exams, which are given by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), include topics such as probability, risk management, interest theories, life contingency, and other topics relevant to the professional practice of actuarial science. The first two exams can be taken during the undergraduate years while the other exams are taken in subsequent years. If you want to become an actuary, passing the first two exams during college can be important because it improves your chances of being hired at a higher salary in your first actuarial job after college.

Generally, it is recommended that you apply for an actuarial job during the last semester of college. The career services department at your college usually can provide job-search assistance. Talking with your college internship supervisor and conducting online job searches may also be helpful in your job search. Keep in mind that actuaries have various options in terms of work setting. For instance, actuaries can work in property insurance, casualty insurance, health insurance, life insurance, financial services, state agencies, or federal agencies.

You also could look for graduate school opportunities as soon as you have completed your first two years of post-graduate actuarial work experience. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Actuarial Science is generally recommended for anyone who wants to eventually become an actuarial manager or actuarial executive, such as a chief risk officer, chief financial officer, vice president, or chief executive officer of a company. Actuaries seeking management opportunities could also be promoted into managerial careers in underwriting, marketing, or even advertising.

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