The Actuary: A Number-One Career in Business and Mathematics

Do mathematics, statistics, finance, and analytics pique your interest? Are you looking for a stable, lucrative career that is technical in nature? If so, becoming an Actuary might be a great option for your future career! After my first semester of college, I realized how suitable and rewarding this career field is for a “numbers person” like me.

Fundamentally, Actuaries analyze data to make business decisions. They mainly work at insurance companies, such as Aetna/CVS Health and Travelers, and consulting firms, such as Deloitte and Ernst & Young (EY), but these are not the only places Actuaries are needed. Traditionally, the day in the life of an Actuary may include pricing insurance policies, projecting how many losses an insurance company will incur in the future, and setting aside money to pay for them. These are just a few of the core roles Actuaries can take on, but the reality is that Actuaries are needed wherever the quantification of risk is necessary, such as in Enterprise Risk Management.

While actuarial roles are similar to those in other careers, such as data science and finance, one of the main benefits to becoming an Actuary is specialized training. If you’re interested in becoming a subject matter expert for a specific product or line of business (e.g., Health, Life, or Property & Casualty insurance), there is a large possibility you would enjoy actuarial work. Additionally, if you enjoy coding but do not want it to be your primary focus at work, an actuarial role may be suitable for you; while there are opportunities available to develop those skills, it is not the emphasis of most actuarial roles.

If this sounds interesting to you, a future in Actuarial Science can be right within your reach! The journey to become an Actuary typically looks like this: 

  • Enrolling in an undergraduate program in Actuarial Science, Mathematics, Statistics, or another related field. 
  • It is not necessary to major in Actuarial Science to become an Actuary! Actuarial Science programs provide benefits that other academic programs do not (e.g., exam support), but many non-Actuarial Science majors go on to become successful actuaries.
  • Starting the exam process once you have the necessary mathematical background, which entails Calculus I – III. Actuarial candidates typically begin with the Probability and Financial Mathematics exams. More detailed information about exams can be found here and here.
  • Completing at least one actuarial internship while in college. In my experience, internships are really the best way to determine if you enjoy actuarial work or not.
  • Working as an Actuarial Analyst after college while taking exams. Companies with actuarial programs typically provide study hours and financial assistance to take exams. From the time you pass your first exam, it will most likely take 7-8 years to be fully credentialed (source: Indeed).

Overall, Actuaries are highly respected business leaders that are key to ensuring the financial and strategic success of an organization. There are many opportunities to take advantage of within the field, and is a great option for students looking to use mathematics in the real world.

By Taylor Czmyr
Taylor Czmyr