What Is Actuarial Science and Should I Study an Actuarial Degree in 2019?

by Robert S. Balan

The job outlook for actuary careers is great. In the US alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 20% increase in Actuarial Science jobs by 2028. Many institutions, like insurance firms, banks, and other financial institutions benefit from having an actuary on board. But what is Actuarial Science and is this a career that might fit you?

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What is Actuarial Science?

Actuarial Science deals with evaluating risks and maintaining the economic stability of insurance or financial organisations. Actuarial Studies graduates learn how to use Mathematics, Statistics, and Probability principles to anticipate future events and take preventive measures.

The main goal of Actuarial Studies is to develop the knowledge needed to perform an actuary job and to prepare students to pass their actuarial exams faster (keep on reading to learn more about them).

What does an actuary do?

Actuaries analyse past data and use that information to determine how much money should be set aside to cover the financial losses which could occur in the future.

Let’s take car accidents as an example. If an actuary wants to predict how many people in London will get in an accident in November, this year, they will look at the percentage of people involved in accidents in the previous years.

Based on that data, the actuary will identify a trend and use it to predict the percentage for this year and establish how much each person should pay for their insurance so that it would cover the damages of a car crash.

One of the main challenges for an actuary is when there isn’t any past data or when the data isn’t relevant due to policy or other types of changes.

Admission requirements for Actuarial Studies

These are the general requirements you can expect during the application process. Some universities may ask you for more documents, while others also accept students with a Bachelor’s degree that’s not related to Actuarial Studies.

Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

  • Minimum English language test scores: IELTS – 6 or TOEFL – 80
  • High-school transcript of records
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Financial certification

Master’s in Actuarial Science

  • Minimum English language test scores: IELTS – 6.5 or TOEFL – 85
  • Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Statistics, or a related field
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • GRE test scores

Actuarial professional working at her desk Best Actuarial Science universities and colleges

According to the Society of Actuaries, these are some of the best universities and colleges for Actuarial Studies:

Tuition fees for Actuarial Studies

Tuition fees at these top universities are between 15,000-28,000 EUR/academic year. The only exception is Simon Fraser University, where tuition only costs 2,600 EUR.

If you’re interested in other Actuarial Science degrees that cost less than 3,000 EUR/year, check out countries like:

Actuarial Exams

You need to pass the actuarial exams to become a qualified actuary. These are independent exams and aren’t related to academic institutions.

Actuarial exams are difficult and require intense preparation. This is why most people need between 7-10 years to pass all of them. Each exam can take between 3-5 hours and involves both multiple-choice questions as well as written answers.

The good news is you can work as an entry-level actuary assistant or junior analyst while taking the exams. Your hard work will pay off, as many companies support employees and reward them financially for passing their actuarial exams.

For more details about costs and exam difficulty, Etched Actuarial is a great resource.

Actuarial Science jobs and salaries

We’ve already mentioned that Actuarial Studies help you pass the actuarial exams faster and become a fully qualified actuary. But they also allow you to work in other fields after graduation thanks to the solid knowledge in Mathematics, Statistics, Finance and Accounting.

Here are some of the most popular jobs and their annual salaries in the US:

Jobs that don’t require passing the actuarial exams

  • Business Analyst – 63,000 USD
  • Financial Planner – 62,000 USD
  • Risk Analyst – 63,000 USD
  • Underwriter – 60,000 USD
  • Investment Analyst – 63,000 USD

Jobs that require passing the actuarial exams:

  • Actuary – 86,000 USD
  • Senior Actuarial Analyst – 84,000 USD

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Is an Actuarial Science degree worth it?

It depends.

If you’re determined to become an actuary and want to speed up the process, an Actuary Science degree will help you achieve that. However, it is not a requirement. You can study any Finance, Mathematics, or Statistics degree and still pass the actuarial exams.

Actuarial Studies are a great choice for people who are determined to follow an actuary career path and won’t settle for anything else. It is a very specialised position requiring intense training and devotion, but if you’re up for the challenge, the job market is eagerly waiting for people just like you.

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