If you want to become an actuary, you must know all the academic credentials, certifications, work experience and skills needed to have a successful career. You must also gain a deeper understanding of the specific roles of an actuary so that you can perform effectively at work. Here is a comprehensive analysis of all the requirements you need to satisfy as an actuary.
Understand Your Responsibilities
You will be required to analyze statistical data, develop new financial products, model computer data, identify potential risks and prepare presentations and reports. You will also need to keep abreast with the latest industry developments and advice the management on issues such as acquisition and mergers, risk limitations and selection of investment portfolios.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Every aspiring actuary must have a strong understanding of business and mathematics. A bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, finance, economics or any other business-related field will give you the perfect platform to acquire the right skills set needed to succeed as an actuary. These degree programs take between three to four years to complete. Some colleges and universities have specialized programs that feature accelerated courses, though these are uncommon.
In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s or doctorate degree to increase your chances of qualifying for more advanced job positions. You can register for a master’s degree in actuarial science or any other business program with a concentration in actuarial science. A master’s or doctorate degree will help you gain a solid foundation in specialized courses as well as benefit from practical exposure to economic and business principles.
Apply for certification as soon you reach the senior year of your undergraduate study program. A certification will enrich your resume and increase your employment prospects significantly. Ensure the certification is from a nationally recognized professional body. You can try bodies such as the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Both bodies offer associate and fellowship certification. The associate certification takes between four and six years to complete while the fellowship certification takes two to three years. To earn these certifications, you will have to take additional classes and pass relevant examinations.
Acquire Essential Skills
You need extensive business knowledge and a stronger understanding of human behavior. You must be able to analyze things critically and solve problems quickly. You must also be able to communicate effectively with your colleagues and use database software, programming languages and statistical modeling to retrieve and analyze data.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, actuaries earn an average salary of $100,610 per year. The highest-paid actuary gets $163,416 while the lowest-paid earns $49,618. The bureau projects the employment rate to grow by 18 percent over the next 10 years. This is much faster than the national average rate and represents over 4,400 new job positions. The growth will be driven by the increasing need for experts who can help develop new insurance products and determine the cost of emerging risks.
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Actuaries enjoy some of the best salaries and work environments in the financial sector. They attract a lot of admiration from their peers and enjoy greater opportunities for career advancement. To become an actuary, earn a bachelor’s degree, understand your roles, acquire the right skills set and obtain certification from a recognized professional body.