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Majoring in Actuarial Science

The Wall Street Journal, CNN/Money, Payscale.com, Business Insider, Time, and other publications all agree: when it comes to pay, job satisfaction, and employability, actuaries have one of the best careers available.

Actuaries predict the future. They use statistics, mathematics, business knowledge, and an understanding of human nature to estimate the probability of future events – such as accidents and disasters – happening. They also help design products, procedures and policies to help businesses and consumers deal with the financial risks of such events. Traditionally, the insurance industry has been the leading employer of actuaries, but in today’s fast-paced world, other types of businesses and organizations also need help managing risk. Therefore, actuaries can also be found working on Wall Street, in banks, for transportation companies, as consultants, and for the Federal government, among other locations.

“I’ve never met an actuary who didn’t love what they do,” said Tonya Manning, Chief Actuary at Bucks Consultants, a Xerox Company, who recently told Careercast.com about the field. “I work with interesting people every day, and what I do today is different than what I did yesterday. And, since I love solving problems that benefit society, it’s a really wonderful career.”

Being an actuary is also a well-paid career. Starting salaries for new college graduates typically range from $65,000 to $80,000. According to the American Society of Actuaries, experienced actuaries can earn $150,000 to $250,000 a year, with many earning more. Job prospects are good as well. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that nearly 100% of students who major in Actuarial Science in college land jobs before graduation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next decade, the demand for actuaries in the U.S. will grow much faster than the demand for employees overall.

What type of person is best suited for a career as an actuary? Strong mathematical and analytical skills are a necessity for this job. However, so are softer skills, such as the ability to communicate well both verbally and in writing. Since actuaries frequently work on teams, you should also enjoy working with other people to identify and solve complex problems. Actuaries also need to pass a series of actuarial professional exams over the course of their careers, so an interest in lifetime learning is critical as well.

The best educational preparation for a career as an actuary is to major in Actuarial Science as an undergraduate. In this major, in addition to courses in actuarial science, you’ll also take advanced classes in calculus, statistics, economics, finance, and computer science. Your coursework will be designed to give you the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the entry level actuarial certification and licensing exams, which students typically take in their junior or senior years of college. Most Actuarial Science programs also either require or strongly encourage students to complete at least one internship in the field. However, majoring in Actuarial Science is not the only route to an actuary career; majoring in mathematics, statistics, finance, and business can all provide pathways into this career.

According to the Society of Actuaries (SOA), there are currently 170 colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer either Actuarial Science majors or courses that can help students prepare for actuarial certification and licensing. Of those schools, 19 have been identified by the SOA as “centers of excellence” for providing comprehensive actuarial science programs that prepare students to take multiple actuarial exams. At other schools that are included on the list, actuarial science may be a specialization within the mathematics or statistics department, or a concentration within business.

To learn more about the Major Selection process, Call Us at (626)-821-9181 to schedule a free college planning consultation!

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