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The Actuary: Necessary Training and Schooling

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 1/18/2011

If you're seriously considering an actuarial profession as a future career or for a career change, it'd be a good idea to know what kind of training or schooling an actuary needs. That way, you'll know if you can commit to the rigidity of educational requirements that go beyond college course work.

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    Profile of a Potential Actuary

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    A person who asks what kind of training or schooling does an actuary need is presumed to have a great love for math. By this, we mean that even during the preparatory years of his formative education, he has already manifested positive aptitude and attitude toward math-based disciplines.

    Even as a child, perhaps, this person is fascinated with games that force him to analyze tricky situations or that test his mettle. He is good at coming up with a smart strategy as a means to move on to the next level. As a player, he is quite excited about the next challenges and is confident and determined to tackle all of them to the finish.

    Others may perceive this individual as an introvert but, actually, his attraction for people is more along the aspects of observing their behaviors. He has this curiosity about individual differences and how they can produce variations in their reactions. Historical subjects captivate him and social studies presents much relevance for this person, in relation to his family and his environment.

    What has just been described is the profile of a person who has enough potential to hurdle the rigid training and educational requirements that an actuary goes through. This person is basically self motivated, goal oriented, socially responsive and--most of all--fascinated with math.

    Years of hard work eventually pay off, inasmuch as the actuarial profession is financially rewarding and brings professional fulfillment and prestige. However, one’s motivations should stem from a genuine passion for acquiring knowledge, solving problems, and creating solutions that can help the society as a whole.

    In line with this, learn the kind of training and schooling aspiring actuaries should undertake and as recommended by the Society of Actuaries. This is in order to understand why one's interest in this career should be deeply rooted.

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    Preparations While in High School

    page1-463px-High School Probability and Statistics (Basic).pdf 

    • Enroll in a college preparatory curriculum.

    Actuary professionals who give advice relate how they took their courses seriously and aimed not just to pass the SAT and ACT, but to pass the SAT tests with the high scores that most top colleges require for admission acceptance. Acquiring a bachelor’s degree from a reputable school is still the best path to take as preparation for any type of career.

    • Take math and advanced math subjects like Calculus and Statistics.

    Some of those who are interviewed also mention English course work to develop their expository writing skills. Social studies classes are also cited as relevant as this helps them in building their problem-solving skills by using objective analysis and historical research.

    • Enroll in computer science courses to widen one’s technological skills.

    Skills for word processing programs, spreadsheets, presentation software, statistical analysis programs, database manipulation, and different programming languages are the most recommended areas for early development.

    • Participate in extracurricular activities to gain actual experience not only as a follower but as a leader as well.
    • Explore the curriculum of intended colleges and universities to attend.
    • Be on the lookout for actuarial internships for high-school juniors and seniors.
    • Attend actuarial summer programs and career fairs for actuarial professionals.

    Next Page: More on What Kind of Training or Schooling Does an Actuary Need? --college training and exam preparation

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    What Kind of Training or Schooling Does an Actuary Need? - Part 2Get insights on what kind of actuarial training and school education an actuary needs and find out how to qualify for the series of tests. There's no specific degree or course required for employment, but the accrediting organizations have their own requisites before one can take the tests. Get details and relevant info from this article by Ciel S. Cantoria.
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    Preparations While in College

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    Actually, most future employers have no specific bachelor’s degree requirements, since their main focus in selecting an applicant is the tests passed by the candidate. There are two organizational groups administering these series of tests:

    • The Society of Actuaries (SOA) – The main concentration for the examinations given by this body are about life and health insurance, employee benefits, and pensions.
    • The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) – The tests given by this body are for proficiencies in fire, automobile, and liability insurance as well as workers' compensation.

    Passing each of these tests denotes the applicant has acquired the right education program which qualified him to sit for the exam and tackle the problems with considerable knowledge. In line with this, the following sections explore the college preparations recommended by the Society of Actuaries:

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    What Kind of Training or Schooling Does an Actuary Need?

    Information About Actuarial Course and Actuarial Related Courses:

    Enroll in a bachelor’s degree in business, math or actuarial science but those who have already graduated in degrees like economics, liberal arts or finance need not fret. Checkout the following requisites for actuarial careers and whichever is lacking can always be taken separately or independently:

    (1) Three semesters of calculus, two semesters of calculus-based probability and statistics, and one semester of linear algebra

    (2) Computer science courses

    (3) Corporate finance

    (4) Micro- and macroeconomics

    (5) Business courses like finance, marketing, accounting, and management

    (6) Courses in communications, i.e. writing, speech, technical writing, or even drama courses

    (7) Social science and humanities, political science, history or literature

    (8) Other electives that coordinate with an actuarial career

    These are only overviews about the kinds of course work that actuarial science requires, which obviously is quite broad. The different organizations may have other requirements aside from those recommended by the SOA.

    VEE Fulfillment

    The Society of Actuaries (SOA) likewise recommends the fulfillment of Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) although this is not a prerequisite for the preliminary exams. Refer to the SOA’s webpage for details of VEE topics.

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    Other Preparations for Training Enhancements

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    • Preparation while in college should also include actuarial internships and training programs.
    • Participation in college extracurricular activities develops one’s interpersonal and leadership skills.

    • Exploration of job fairs for actuarial careers.

    • Becoming acquainted with the actuarial examination system and starting to review by practicing on mock actuarial exams. See an example of an online practice exam furnished by the SOA on this page.

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    About the Actuarial Exams

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    In order to achieve professional status as an actuary, aspirants have to pass a series of examinations and meet certain educational requirements of the Society of Actuaries and Casualty Actuarial Society. Unlike other professions, however, these tests can be taken even as a college undergraduate or in accordance with the exam taker’s order of preference.

    Take the first two sets of the actuarial exams before graduating in college and aim to pass at least one. Most employers hire candidates with at least one passed test while passing both gives a candidate an edge.

    The CAS and SOA offer self-study courses that can help the student pass any of part of the test series. It would be best for the interested exam-takers to visit the CAS and SOA websites to obtain updated and complete descriptions of the examination requirements.

    Most college graduates who have undergone the kind of training and schooling an actuary needs have experienced career advancement and salary increases after each successful attempt to pass the series of tests. Accordingly, this motivates them to aim for higher test levels and attain the “Associate” status and the ultimate “Fellowship” with the SOA or CAS.

    However, those who plan to do so must check out the respective organizations’ current education and work experience requirements for taking their tests.

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    Reference Materials and Image Credit Section:

    References:

    • Purdue Department of Mathematics: Actuarial Science Program---http://www.math.purdue.edu/academic/actuary/index.php?p=what
    • Be an Actuary - A Career without Boundaries---http://www.beanactuary.org/

    Image Credits: