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Old 06-03-2016, 10:11 AM   #21
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If you cannot break into the actuarial side, consider a commercial insurance underwriting training program. They seem.to be hungry for people, it pays well, and should be pretty interesting.
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22yo seeking career advice (any actuaries here?)
Old 06-03-2016, 10:15 AM   #22
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22yo seeking career advice (any actuaries here?)

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Originally Posted by photoguy View Post
Thanks. This is way more heterogeneous than I would have thought given that it's a licensed profession.







Out of curiosity, which languages/programs are typically used by actuaries?


One of the great things about the accreditation process (to me) was that if you can pass the exams, it doesn't matter if your major was Art History. You're in. I know one History major who eventually started taking the exams when he got disgusted with job prospects in his field.

As to languages- it changes so what's most important is being computer-friendly, a good learner and being knowledgeable about the current software. I used mostly Excel the last few years (which can get very complicated if you really get into it) but in the last 3 months got a patchwork of Excel spreadsheets converted to SQL, then exported to Qlikview (had to learn the latter two!). Not much call for Fortran, Lotus 1-2-3 or WordPerfect anymore!
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:17 AM   #23
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programming languages? huh? valuation programs are parameterized and usually written in house or use a third party software
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:28 AM   #24
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programming languages? huh? valuation programs are parameterized and usually written in house or use a third party software


That's probably true of pension work, which is a dying field.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:33 AM   #25
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That's probably true of pension work, which is a dying field.

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Old 06-03-2016, 11:29 AM   #26
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If you cannot break into the actuarial side, consider a commercial insurance underwriting training program. They seem.to be hungry for people, it pays well, and should be pretty interesting.
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:10 PM   #27
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there are a ton of commercial underwriters - there are only about 20,000 credentialed actuaries, last time I counted
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:43 PM   #28
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For most of the 23 years I worked, I used SAS, a very user-friendly business programming language.
Haha. I've used SAS a few times and absolutely hated it. It seems that amongst my colleagues those with an Eng/CS background express extreme hate for SAS whereas the Stats folk seem to really like it. In a data scientist role, I typically used special purpose programs/languages like R, Matlab, SQL and some general languages like Python, Perl, Go, C++.

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One of the great things about the accreditation process (to me) was that if you can pass the exams, it doesn't matter if your major was Art History. You're in. I know one History major who eventually started taking the exams when he got disgusted with job prospects in his field.
I don't know what's on the actuary exams but I can't imagine passing them without some pretty rigorous probability, stats, and matrix math. Not things that you'd typically take in History. He must have been quite smart to pick it up.

I did my undergrad in engineering and as long as you come from an accredited school you can get the PEng designation with relatively little hassle (work experience plus some basic ethics/law test). However if you didn't go to the right school they'd test you again on the fundamentals. Not many obtained the PEng that way afaik (although I supposed I'm obviously biased to know people through the accreditation route).
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:57 PM   #29
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I don't know what's on the actuary exams but I can't imagine passing them without some pretty rigorous probability, stats, and matrix math. Not things that you'd typically take in History. He must have been quite smart to pick it up.
Dad was an actuary, too, so he probably made sure his son had a good grounding in advanced math. I also know an underwriter who decided mid-career to start on actuarial exams. He actually went to night school to get the math he needed; no idea what his degree was in but he had a wife and a few kids so college had been awhile ago. He finished them all and is now a CEO. His wife was not happy in the beginning, but when they started throwing salary increases at him as he passed exams, she became more supportive!
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:07 PM   #30
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Haha. I've used SAS a few times and absolutely hated it. It seems that amongst my colleagues those with an Eng/CS background express extreme hate for SAS whereas the Stats folk seem to really like it. In a data scientist role, I typically used special purpose programs/languages like R, Matlab, SQL and some general languages like Python, Perl, Go, C++.
A buddy just completed his Masters something to do with big data and stats. He said they used several languages R being the predominant one. Thought he said there's an R derivative that's pretty commonly used too.

At the beginning of mainframe career I did some SAS w*rk. Ugh. Not my thing at all, assembly was much more fun.

OP, I'll second third and fourth getting some SQL education. It's not hard* and it increases exponentially the number of potential jobs.


*SQL syntax is an ISO standard so it's pretty much the same on most platforms. Making SQL perform well on different platforms is another thing.
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:10 PM   #31
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Dad was an actuary, too, so he probably made sure his son had a good grounding in advanced math. I also know an underwriter who decided mid-career to start on actuarial exams. He actually went to night school to get the math he needed; no idea what his degree was in but he had a wife and a few kids so college had been awhile ago. He finished them all and is now a CEO. His wife was not happy in the beginning, but when they started throwing salary increases at him as he passed exams, she became more supportive!
If your spouse isn't on board, it is almost impossible to pass actuarial exams
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:11 PM   #32
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Frankly, even though 4.2% isn't an onerously bad interest rate I'd be paying down those student loans while I had more than enough income to do so.
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:43 PM   #33
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Some sample questions from the site linked earlier by athena53:

Sample Actuarial Problems | Be an Actuary

The page is dynamic and you can reload to see different examples.
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Old 06-03-2016, 03:24 PM   #34
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I did my undergrad in engineering and as long as you come from an accredited school you can get the PEng designation with relatively little hassle (work experience plus some basic ethics/law test). However if you didn't go to the right school they'd test you again on the fundamentals. Not many obtained the PEng that way afaik (although I supposed I'm obviously biased to know people through the accreditation route).
Just to clarify, the current process to become a PE is you have to pass a general engineering skills test, called the Fundamentals of Engineering (I think that is the new name) first. Then after some work experience required which varies by state, you take the Professional Engineer exam in the field you want. Both tests have a fairly high passing requirement, I believe minimum passing for the FofE is 70th percentile of all the people taking the test that day. In other words top 30% pass and 70% get to take it again. I don't know the rules for passing the PE, since it is specific to each field. I am a PE, all it takes to keep it current is to pay the every 2 years license fee. There is no continuing education requirement, assumption is you are working as engineer and keeping skills up.

Back to OP, sorry for the digression above, but I agree with the rest. If you want to become an actuary, start taking the required tests and pass; then get that on your resume.

You are doing great at saving money up. Pay those student loans down, after you max out the pre-tax 401k and the Roth. The value of compounding over time is way in your favor with you being only 22 now.
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Old 06-03-2016, 05:25 PM   #35
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I'll attempt to amplify the advice of a few of the posters on the board; with an econ degree, I'd figure out how to use a couple of data tools, and start looking into roles in data science. I run a SaaS analytics software portfolio for a megacorp that sells to megacorps, (fortune 500, with a heavy bias toward the top 100 of those) they are dying to get their hands on people with even the slightest experience with data.

My advice? Go get an account for a web analytics tool like google analytics, take a Lynda class on how to use it so you can get a feel for how data is used to answer basic questions, and then (progressively) look into how to use SQL and R on that data. The sky is the limit in terms of what you could learn and where you could take your career from there, but you could kill it.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:12 PM   #36
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Just to clarify, the current process to become a PE is you have to pass a general engineering skills test, called the Fundamentals of Engineering (I think that is the new name) first. Then after some work experience required which varies by state, you take the Professional Engineer exam in the field you want.
Sorry I should have been clearer. I was thinking of the requirements where I did my undergrad in Ontario, Canada.
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:00 PM   #37
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Thank you all so much, the responses from this thread have given me so much more direction than I imagined. This forum really seems to be full of people that actually want to help others improve themselves.

After reading all this I plan to continue attempting the actuarial route because with hard work I think I could have what it takes and I know I'd be so proud of myself if I achieved it. but I understand things may not work out as I hope and if it doesn't I think the CFA, data analyst, and commercial underwriting routes look like great alternatives. It also seems overwhelmingly clear now that some programming and data tool skills would be beneficial for my career regardless of which path and I intend to follow the advice of getting a google analytics account and see what I can teach myself.

I feel like the success of ones career is largely decided on the performance and decisions made in the first few years so I just want to thank you all one more time for the impact your advice has had on me at this important time in my career, hopefully things will work out! time will tell but I feel much better now that I have a plan!
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:27 AM   #38
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REdreamer, I remembered something else you may want to consider. Many coworkers of mine took exams in the CPCU track. CPCU is Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. It isn't actuarial per se, and from what I heard these exams are a bit easier than the actuarial ones. (I never took any of those exams.)


What's a CPCU? | CPCU Society
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Old 06-04-2016, 02:09 PM   #39
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I'm an FCAS (Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society) as well as a CPCU. Believe me, the CPCU exams are easier. Good content, well-organized, valuable information (the same cannot always be said of actuarial exams!) but definitely easier. They'd also serve the OP well in his current job and give him credibility if he wants to become an underwriter.
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Old 06-05-2016, 05:06 PM   #40
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REdreamer: What do you ENJOY doing? You are obviously a smart guy who could do a variety of things that would enable you to support yourself. But speaking as someone who made a good amount of money doing something I don't really enjoy, it's not worth it.

Do you like selling? Being a team member in a big organization, working toward a common goal? Advising people? Doing quantitative analysis? Being involved in finance? Being part of a start up? Doing something that serves the public good (eg, nonprofit, public sector, etc.)?

I would start with what you enjoy and what you think you are good at, rather than how you can make a living and eventually retire.
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