How to Become an Actuary

Actuaries use mathematics and statistics to determine risks for insurance and financial companies. An actuary requires an undergraduate degree and a certification of completion requirements.

Education

Most actuaries have undergraduate degrees in mathematics, statistics or finance. It is also possible to major in actuarial science. There are approximately sixty programs in the United States specifically that specifically focus on actuarial science. All, but one are four year degree undergraduate degree programs.

Certification

The Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society both offer certifications. The certifications include a series of examinations that take several years. These exams are self-study and many prospective actuaries begin taking these examinations while in college. The first level for certification is the associate level; once completed and with a few years of work experience as well as additional examinations, the actuary is able to attain the fellowship level. Additional information is available on the web.

Tips and Advice

If you are currently in high school, you need to complete mathematics and statistical science courses. Actuaries will also work with databases and provide written reports about their analysis, so it is important to develop computer and communication skills.

Once in college, try to take courses in business, including finance and accounting, as well as senior level mathematics and statistics courses. There is an option to complete actuarial science degree, but if you are already studying business, mathematics or statistics, it is not necessary to switch programs. Begin the examination process while in college. It is possible to begin taking the examinations to become an actuary while in college so if you know that a career as an actuary is your goal, you can begin the process now.

Look for summer jobs and internships in the field. Attend a career fair on campus where insurance companies or the actuary association plan to attend to provide information about opportunities in the field. Some insurance companies will also come on campus and provide information sessions. The information sessions will have a human resource representatives, insurance professionals and actuaries. All of the speakers will provide information about job opportunities, when and how to apply and the education and credentials that they are looking for in applicants. Some companies will also conduct interviews on campus which can help save time and reduce the worry of students and graduates who are currently looking for jobs in this field.

The Actuarial Foundation also offers scholarships to college students.  Employers will recognize these awards when screening applicants for selection.

Different Types

The majority of actuaries work in the insurance industry, setting the rates for premiums. There are also positions available with banks and investment firms, as well as working for the government. Many government positions, however, may require a graduate degree. With additional training, such as a doctorate, it is possible to pursue senior level positions in government or with international agencies, as well as becoming a professor of actuary science, mathematics or statistics, depending on the discipline that you pursued to become an actuary.