JAL777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3114 times:
I've been approached by several people in my school / work to become a certified actuary. I was wondering if anyone here is or knows someone in the field and what their opinions of the job are. Thanks.
ScarletHarlot From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 4673 posts, RR: 56
Reply 1, posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3079 times:
I am a partially fledged pension actuary. I took several of the tests but did not finish.
There is another user on here called MikeTheActuary. He is a full-fledged Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.
I have steered more toward the technology side, but still use my actuarial background. I really enjoyed what I learned in school and I especially enjoyed the co-op opportunities at the University of Waterloo. While I was still in university I worked for the Canadian government, an insurance company, and a consulting firm. This convinced me that I really liked consulting best.
I can't speak for the other branches of actuarial science but pension actuarial work is diminishing. Pension actuarial work focuses on defined benefit plans and there are fewer and fewer of those now.
DO NOT underestimate how hard the exams are. I was a very good student and didn't have to study much in university (and I went to the best Math program in North America). The exams floored me. I had never failed anything before I took SOA exams. You have to study, study, study. Studying 200 - 300 hours for an exam is normal - more than normal, NECESSARY. If you don't do that, you fail. It can get very difficult to be studying for exams when it's nice outside and you want to go do something but you can't because you haven't done your 3h of studying for the day yet. In the end, this is why I did not finish the exams. But once you pass the exams and get your designations, it is up to you whether you want to write more exams and get more designations. You can stop after ASA or FSA (ACAS or FCAS for casualty actuaries).
Now I realize that I didn't say anything about how I *like* my job. I really do like it. It can be stressful (imagine going to your client, an airline already in trouble, and telling them that they MUST, by law, put $100 million into their pension plan this year) but it is also very rewarding.
Do realize that actuaries no longer have 100% job security. The company I work for was bought by a competitor and all 75 of us in Seattle lost our jobs, plus another 150 in Atlanta. Several actuaries were included in that number. Another company here also closed their Seattle office recently. 10 years ago this would have been unheard of.
Hope that helps. Feel free to email me with any questions.
Yyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16403 posts, RR: 56
Reply 2, posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3073 times:
I especially enjoyed the co-op opportunities at the University of Waterloo
Scarlet, I also studied math at Waterloo. Bmath undergrad but I studied applied math, not actuarial science. Several of my friends are actuaries and at least one is still studying. The material is very tough and I shudder whenever I think of the math involved. Actuaries are true mathematicians. YYZ/Toronto is a relative hotbed of actuaries since several large life insurers are based here.
Their big exams are every May & November. Never ever ask an actuary how his/her last exam went....its too stressful!
I also never met an actuary who did not like to drink beer! Which is good.
Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
MidnightMike From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2892 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3069 times:
My wife is an actuary, she takes exam #3 in May, what do you need? I can tell you it is plenty of work, right now she is in the actuary program and takes her exams twice a year. She is alway studying, but the pay is good, if you like studying, go for it.
JAL777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3063 times:
Well I'm currently finishing up my Mechanical Engineering and Economics majors. While I love engineering, there's no money in it. I've been doing an internship with an aviation insurance group and I really got to liking it. My professor suggested actuarial sciences or econometrics as a combination of the economics and engineering (math) classes to focus on and lately I've been leaning towards it. Just wanted to test the waters I guess.
JAL777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3027 times:
An actuary is a person, who passes as an expert on the basis of a prolific ability to produce an infinite variety of incomprehensive figures calculated with micrometric precision from the vaguest of assumptions based on debatable evidence from inconclusive data derived by persons of questionable reliability for the sole purpose of confusing an already hopelessly befuddled group of persons who never read the statistics anyway!