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Thread: Thinking of switching careers to being an Actuary - advise me great sages

  1. #1
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    Thinking of switching careers to being an Actuary - advise me great sages

    Hello there ladies and gents,

    I am a 25 year old man who is thinking of pursuing a career as an actuary. I have some essential questions for you.

    Are my motivations realistic?

    - I am not particularly enthralled by any particular job - rather I am driven by efficacy. Right now I make about 170k a year. But I work 80-90 hour weeks and I am not guaranteed work (contract work.) I would like the opportunity to make similar money at 40 hour weeks and research shows that actuaries can obtain such figures. If there are jobs which fill these credentials and are in demand please notify me of them. (Dentistry/engineering is also an option.)

    -What is the most efficient method of becoming an actuary? i dont really want to spend another 4 years pursuing another BA when - let's be honest, college is a joke. A person can be trained or teach themselves for less money and quicker results.

    - I have not taken calculus, but i can teach myself if need be. I do have experience in statistics.

    What matters most to me is $/hour and a good work/life balance. I am extremely capable both socially and scholastically and this profession seems like a good fit with opportunity for advancement into a management position - which is another big plus for me. What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    You spam? I ban! Irish Blues's Avatar
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    1. Pay: yes, you could potentially make $170K a year. Not at entry-level, and not at 6-7 exams, though - at all exams passed and 8-12 years of experience, especially managing more than a few people.

    2. How: Pass exams. Period. Do a search on "actuarial exams" to learn what you're getting into.

    Otherwise, it appears that you're looking more for a job that pays you what you're making currently more than you're looking for a job that you're going to truly be happy with. If that's the case, you really need to research what actuaries do and see if you're even interested (hint: if you were really all-in on the actuarial profession, you wouldn't mention dentistry and engineering as possibilities). If not, then you need to figure out what "it" is, whatever it happens to be.
    "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blogger_ar...blogger_id=174 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.

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    Irish - thank you. I truly appreciate your counsel. I have looked into the exams and understand their difficulty. let us assume I am capable of passing said tests. I do need to more thoroughly examine the extent of key mathematical concepts covered and educate myself on them. I was wondering if there were perhaps crash courses of sorts that were intensive and effective for preparation.

    As far as passion for the profession is concerned, I really need to spend some time shadowing an actuary to determine that. My personal passion is writing and I am already working on a novel. I do think I would enjoy the challenge of a position where my input was truly vital. I prefer to be in position of leadership. Computation in and of itself is also inherently rewarding - getting the correct answer is like a little prize haha.

    I am worried that having a degree in biology as opposed to applied mathematics of some sort will be detrimental to my potential to be hired. Is this a fair assumption? What really appeals to me is the pathway to becoming an actuary - if you can hack the tests, you can join the club. I embrace the challenge

  4. #4
    You spam? I ban! Irish Blues's Avatar
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    let us assume I am capable of passing said tests. I do need to more thoroughly examine the extent of key mathematical concepts covered and educate myself on them.
    It's much more than a bunch of math. Math gets you to the "I want to be an actuary" line; critical thinking, the ability to understand and apply, being able to tie concepts from 20+ papers not written for teaching material to someone who's been in the profession for less than 5-10 years or has little exposure to the broader topic, ... those kinds of things get you through it. Lots of people start into the exams thinking "this isn't that tough, I'm great at math, I can pass these." Lots of those people bail out short of the finish line.

    I was wondering if there were perhaps crash courses of sorts that were intensive and effective for preparation
    Start by looking at a site like www.actexmadriver.com

    I am worried that having a degree in biology as opposed to applied mathematics of some sort will be detrimental to my potential to be hired. Is this a fair assumption?
    Can you pass tests and demonstrate understanding of what's being taught while looking at the bigger picture as you do work? Yes? Then what your degree is in is irrelevant.
    "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blogger_ar...blogger_id=174 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.

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    Thank you once again sir, The "much more than math" is a definite benefit for me. I have always excelled at math, but I do lack education in calculus. However, comprehension, critical thinking, and communication are very strong suites for me. I honestly grasp most subjects very well - I was valedictorian back in high school and used to make beer money in college by writing other student's essays haha. So luckily I am gifted in academics. (minus art/music - holy '''' am I bad at art and music.) Nevertheless! Not being excluded for an unorthodox major is a breath of fresh air.

    I think the methodology behind the work of an actuary is very in line with my thought process. I am, for better or for worse, a perfectionist. I thoroughly research any decision and carefully weigh the variables. This is true whether I am purchasing parts for a new computer or trying to learn a new skill. The work of an actuary seems to be of a similar nature - assessing variables and establishing risk vs reward. I also feel that the knowledge obtained while working in this profession would benefit one's own financial position regarding investments.

    Thank you for the link and your advice. What is your personal take on the profession as a whole if I may ask?

  6. #6
    You spam? I ban! Irish Blues's Avatar
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    My take: competition to get into the field is as intense as it's ever been, especially with tons of people trying to hide out here waiting for the economy to recover. The number of people passing P/1 is twice what it was 5 years ago and 50% over what it was in 2003-2005. The days of "I have 2-3 exams passed and a pulse, so I can get hired" are long gone; employers can be (and are) very choosy about who they hire because there's so many candidates out there. If you don't bring your absolute 'A' game to the table and have a serious committment to the exams, you'll be yet another "I have 3 exams passed, why won't anyone hire me?" candidate.

    Go back and look at your comments on your current salary, and my response. Go look at salary surveys of actuaries with X exams passed and Y exams of experience. Realize that you will not be knocking out the exams in 2-3 years total; if you're really good, it will take at least 5 - and that's if you pass all of them on the 1st shot (which rarely happens). Temper expectations accordingly. If you're focusing first on the money and have dreams of $125K quickly, this isn't the field for you (satisfaction with what you're doing aside) - because as alluded to above, you're not going to hit $125K without 6+ exams and 5+ years of experience, and you probably won't get there until you've got ACAS and 10+ years or FCAS and 5+ years.
    "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blogger_ar...blogger_id=174 - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.

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