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Thread: Do I want to be an actuary, or do I quant to be something else?

  1. #1
    Actuary.com - Level II Poster
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    Do I want to be an actuary, or do I quant to be something else?

    In spite of the fact that my degree is in mechanical engineering rather than math, stats, or act sci, I love math. In fact, I found out after an interview I had a couple months ago for an entry level actuarial job that part of the reason I didn't get the job was because I sounded too zealous about wanting to do math and that I didn't understand what an actuary actually does, specifically that I came across as thinking an actuary does a lot more math, especially high level math, than one really does. Now, much of my expression of enthusiasm for math during my interview was because I was somewhat self-conscious about not having a traditional degree for an actuary, but I do love doing math---that's no lie. No one has ever asked me to do even the most basic calculus in my mechanical engineering job, and yet I find productive ways to use calculus on a regular basis at my work. My motivation to become an actuary is largely (although not completely) based on a desire to do more high level math, but maybe becoming an actuary will still be disappointing.

    Well, there are other things I think I would enjoy about being an actuary. I love economics and finance, and I get almost none of that as an engineer. I hate to admit it, and I wouldn't admit it in an interview, but yeah, it would be nice to make a bit more than I do as an engineer. I don't feel a need to ever be raking in, say, 150k+ a year (and I certainly understand that I wouldn't probably see any real pay increase over my current salary starting out), but mostly, once my wife and I have kids, it would just be nice to have a little more financial breathing room, which a career change to become an actuary would provide. Also, since almost all actuaries seem to love their jobs, I can't see why I wouldn't.

    Anyway, next fall, I intend to start a Master of Financial Math program. My thinking is that it should make me much more competitive for an entry-level actuary job than I currently am, especially given that I am resolved to get much higher grades than I did in college (3.3 GPA). While the program is geared more toward quants than actuaries, it is probably about the most relevant grad program I could enroll in while working full-time as an engineer. I could do the whole program in a year, finishing about a year and a half from now.

    So, since I am very serious about a quantitative analysis-heavy program of study, I have to wonder: if I actually do get a Master of Financial Math, should I try to go for a quant job instead once I'm done, especially given that I love math?

    Ultimately, my question is this: is there something (whether technically an actuary or technically a quant) where one can make a modest though decent living (say, 80-120k a year at the completion of all credentials one would get) working no more than 45-50 hours a week? It seems to me I want to do a quant's job with actuary hours and actuary pay although could be misunderstanding things. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Actuary.com - Posting Master
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    I would go look on AO, use the search function, it works great.

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