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Physics v.s. actuarial science

by kingwinner
Tags: actuarial, physics, science
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Howers
#19
Aug21-08, 06:46 PM
P: 444
Quote Quote by WhiteKnights View Post
How about Physics + Applied Math?
It takes a long long time to be a actuary(like 10 years)
No it doesn't. Your an actuary right after your first two exams, which most people do while in undergrad. Your not a full actuary, but you're still making 60+k a year.

Quote Quote by kingwinner View Post
But to be recognised as a "physicist", I must get a Ph.D and it takes at least 10 years in university as well, so the path to becoming a physicist is not anything easier than becoming an actuary, right?
Its way harder to become a physcist
Vanadium 50
#20
Aug21-08, 07:53 PM
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I keep reading the topic as "physics vs. actual science".
will.c
#21
Aug21-08, 08:36 PM
P: 374
Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
I keep reading the topic as "physics vs. actual science".
I've met a few people who think that current physics research consists of nothing but string theory, and well, in that regard...
Locrian
#22
Aug21-08, 08:50 PM
P: 1,745
Quote Quote by kingwinner View Post
Thanks everyone for providing me a lot of useful information!

What kind of maths are involved in actuarial science? How are they different from ordinary math? Which kind of math is harder, the math in actuarial science or ordinary math?
I'm not sure there is such thing as ordinary math, and certainly actuarial science isn't an alternative. I'd say an understanding of algebra, linear algebra, calculus, probability and statistics is a good start. After spending a lot of time in physics I found financial economics to be just weird at first, but it's straightening out pretty quickly.

Regarding physics, I have heard that it's getting increasing difficult to obatin a university position (e.g. professor) in physics. Is this true and why?
The general consensus is that this is true. The reason depends on who you ask, but there's little doubt that there has been many, many more physicists produced over the past thirty years than can possibly get university jobs. Luckily industry helps some, but in many areas of physics there is little to no industry, thus leaving a lot of people stuck in postdoc limbo, or worse. My experience was that if you go into an area of physics that is applicable and has a healthy private sector, your options improve.
Locrian
#23
Aug21-08, 08:53 PM
P: 1,745
Quote Quote by Howers View Post
No it doesn't. Your an actuary right after your first two exams,
That's absurd. Lots of students have passed two exams before leaving college, and no one in their right mind would call them actuaries. Where the line is drawn depends on who you ask, but most people will say that becoming an associate and having at least some job experience is necessary to be called an actuary.

Its way harder to become a physcist
This seems a difficult thing to demonstrate. Out of curiosity, how many actuarial exams have you passed, and what graduate degrees do you have in physics?
Howers
#24
Aug22-08, 11:47 AM
P: 444
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
That's absurd. Lots of students have passed two exams before leaving college, and no one in their right mind would call them actuaries. Where the line is drawn depends on who you ask, but most people will say that becoming an associate and having at least some job experience is necessary to be called an actuary.
My point is you are employed full time. You don't count working full time after your bachelor and studying part time, often at work, as "time devoted to becoming an actuary". Its more like getting experience, with some reading.

This seems a difficult thing to demonstrate. Out of curiosity, how many actuarial exams have you passed, and what graduate degrees do you have in physics?
Not as much as you, if that is your point. 2 and none.

By harder to become a physicist I mean more schooling is neccessary and employment is scarce. It is harder to find a position that is not in demand. As for subject content, I'd still imagine physics is MUCH harder than actuarial science. But maybe you can tell me about that? It sounds as though "kingwinner" has been informed that actuarial science may be too hard for him, and that he should consider a physics PhD instead - which I find absurd.
kingwinner
#25
Aug23-08, 01:01 PM
P: 1,270
Does anyone have more to say about having a degree in "mathematical applications in finance and econonmics"? What are the kinds of jobs I can do?
kingwinner
#26
Aug23-08, 01:10 PM
P: 1,270
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post

There are a few questions you should ask yourself that can help you choose between physics and actuarial work. Do you like business? If no, then don't go into actuarial work, period. Do you like universities? If not, that's a minus for physics - yes, there are lots of industrial jobs, but there's really not as much demand as many people make it sound like there is. If you are going into industry both physics and actuarial work suffer from one similar issue - the work is localized geographically. (This is probably more so in physics, where much of the work is Cali, MD and Colorado, but around 3/4th of all actuarial jobs are in about a dozen cities).

Goodluck with your decision and don't hesitate to ask more questions.
I am not sure if I like business, but I enjoy working in an office environment.

I like universities, but I do not enjoy labortary work very much, and I wouldn't prefer an industrial job. I don't like getting my hands dirty. However, I love and I am good at the theoretical aspects of physics.
Is physicist not for me?
alligatorman
#27
Aug23-08, 01:27 PM
P: 114
Well if you're good at and like theoretical physicist, then I would say it's for you. Just be aware of how difficult it is to become one these days.
mal4mac
#28
Aug23-08, 02:50 PM
P: 1,174
Read:

My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance
by Emanuel Derman
Locrian
#29
Aug23-08, 09:17 PM
P: 1,745
I might be in a unique position to compare physics and actuarial work, but I'm still new to the field. Thus if anyone is looking for more and better information on the work actuaries do, job opportunities and other useful information, I'd highly suggest DW Simpson's FAQ post on the Actuarial Outpost.
n0_3sc
#30
Aug23-08, 10:59 PM
P: 265
Quote Quote by kingwinner View Post
I am not sure if I like business, but I enjoy working in an office environment.

I like universities, but I do not enjoy labortary work very much, and I wouldn't prefer an industrial job. I don't like getting my hands dirty. However, I love and I am good at the theoretical aspects of physics.
Is physicist not for me?
EDIT: Sorry, I understood that you were a beginning undergraduate student. Am I mistaken? From first year studies you may consider yourself "good" at theoretical physics, but graduate theoretical physics is FAR different. It is an entirely new language.

Locrian:
Thanks for the very informative description of actuarial science.
avant-garde
#31
Mar20-09, 12:00 PM
P: 205
So, if I get a degree in actuarial science, is that too narrow to be able to pursue something like mathematical/computational finance, statistics, etc? (in case I end up deciding that actuarial is not for me)
yoyo100
#32
Mar25-09, 06:57 PM
P: 7
Hey,

Are there any actuaries on this forum? If so, can you tell us a little bit about your background and about how you got into the actuarial profession. I am seriously considering pursuing a career as an actuary, but I would like to learn more about the job and what kind of people like it.

Thank you.
lubuntu
#33
Mar25-09, 10:29 PM
P: 473
Wow, talk about a enough with the euphemistic language, I mean actuarial science, SCIENCE?, really?

Excuse me I have to get back to my job as Ancillary Ground Bovine Technician.
Locrian
#34
Mar28-09, 11:26 AM
P: 1,745
Quote Quote by yoyo100 View Post
Are there any actuaries on this forum? If so, can you tell us a little bit about your background and about how you got into the actuarial profession. I am seriously considering pursuing a career as an actuary, but I would like to learn more about the job and what kind of people like it.
Have you read through the actuarial outpost FAQ thread I posted earlier here? It is invaluable to someone considering the profession.

I'm an actuary (well, actuarial analyst is more accurate, which denotes that I'm early in my career). My background is a BS and MS in physics, with a couple of years experience working for a private company doing research.

I got into the actuarial profession by taking Exam FM and contacting a recruiter. I've had my job for less than a year now, and have thoroughly enjoyed it so far. This is the most satisfied I've ever been with my career, though there is still plenty of time for that to change ;)

As for what kind of people are actuaries, well first and foremost, you need to understand (as I've mentioned earlier in the thread) that actuaries are business people first and anything else (statisticians, mathematicians, researchers etc.) second. The culture in an actuarial department is very different from, say, the sales department, but it is also different from a university or private research department.

I also have some bad news - it is currently very hard to get an entry level job as an actuary. There is still a shortage of credentialed actuaries, but firms just aren't hiring new entry level people. It's always been a bit harder to break into the career than it is made to sound, and the economy has exacerbated that. However, if you are still a year or more from looking for a job, things could be very different by the time you do.

To be honest, the question of what kind of people are actuaries is hard to answer. If you can narrow it down any, or have other specific questions, I'd be happy to help.


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