Overview on How to Become An Actuary
You came here because you’re wondering how you can become an actuary. We’ll cover 3 aspects of your profile that employers look at if you want to become an actuary. These are your education background, your licensing exams progress, and your experience. While your experience is most important, we start off covering your educational background because for most people that’s where they start off. The most important path on the way to becoming an actuary is to get your first actuarial job! Whether it’s internship or full time, just getting in is the key part!
If you want to become an actuary, studying actuarial science in university helps but is not required.
While some professions such as accounting, medicine, etc. require you to study the program in an accredited school to even attempt to enter the profession, that is not the case for actuarial science. That being said, majoring in actuarial science certainly helps if you want to become an actuary.
Studying in an actuarial science in school helps because the content prepares you (somewhat) for the actuarial licensing exams and it also shows your interest in the actuarial field to an employer. For example, if you want to become an actuary from an engineering background, the employer doesn’t know if you really want to become an actuary or if you just applied for the job randomly as a backup. Fortunately, the licensing exams help demonstrate this and is extra important if you didn’t study actuarial science.
If your school doesn’t offer actuarial science as a major, studying mathematics, statistics, or a related field is your next best option. However, students from any major or discipline can become an actuary. I have met biologists and accountants who became an actuary after having worked for several years in their respective fields. If you really want to become an actuary, your educational background is no barrier.
Click here for more details: Actuarial Exams
The important first step to being an actuary involves taking the accreditation exams. While you can find a job as an actuarial analyst without having taken an exam, having passed at least some accreditation exams shows your seriousness about the actuarial profession and makes you more attractive in the eyes of the employer.
There are two major “streams” of actuarial science exams in North America. If you want to become a casualty actuary, then focus on the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) exams. If you’re not sure or want to become a different type of actuary, then focus on the Society of Actuaries (SOA) exams. The preliminary exams sometimes give credit for the other organization. Making progress in these exams shows employers your aptitude for the exams and interest in becoming an actuary.
The best way to learn how to become an actuary is to work in the actuarial field. When employers hire actuarial analysts, anyone having experience as an actuarial intern is highly favored. Obtaining internships in actuarial science is MUCH easier than obtaining full time work. For example, say a company hires 5 full time analysts and 5 interns per year. If those interns do well, they won’t hire anyone else. If one doesn’t do well, then they’ll hire one full time student from the graduating class. Thus your chances are MUCH better if you start as an actuarial intern.
Of course, getting an internship can still be challenging. First, polish your resume. Find out what an actuary does and if you want to do actuarial consulting or insurance. Then start applying for jobs!