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Engineering Can't choose between actuarial science, accounting, and engineering

  1. Mar 26, 2012 #1
    I know I'm good at math and I do like science but I found out that I've never really been passionate about anything in my entire life. So here's the situation:

    I'm 18, freshman in college
    My views on the 3 jobs:

    - excellent pay
    - great hours
    - job security
    - could be stressful

    - mediocre pay (CPAs might break six-figures)
    - predictable work
    - hectic work hours
    - takes long time to make decent money

    - most interesting
    - reminds me of video games like deus ex
    - great starting salary
    - stressful
    - not so great job security for most fields aside from petroleum, biomed

    Could someone please offer some insight? Is the life of an actuary stressful, do accountants make a lot of money, and does biomedical engineering require lots of face-to-face interaction? I'm a bit of a loner and prefer to work on my own terms. Anyways, thank you in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2012 #2
    Actuary life is not that stressful form what I understand. It probably depends where you work ultimately. Engineering can be stressful but its also a lot of fun.

    I'd be more concerned about you saying that, "I've never really been passionate about anything in my entire life." Perhaps you should try exploring some courses at the college that can give you an exposure to topics you might like. Take a class on accounting, engineering, computer science, physics, any area that you might be interested in but have not really taken. Might give you an idea of what you like and don't like. Your only 18, and have a lot of time.
  4. Mar 26, 2012 #3


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    Science Advisor

    Hey shadedude123 and welcome to the forums.

    Math in university is not quite the same as high school, but if you do the necessary work I can't see why you won't pick up what you need to.

    Big question: Do you like insurance? Do you also like the idea of sitting exams for the next 5-10 years while you work? You should probably take a probability/statistics year long sequence course and decide if you like statistics because you will be doing a lot of it with a bit of accounting/business finance, economics, and financial mathematics. Also the job is not a mathematical job: it's a business one. If Locrian jumps on here then listen to what he has to say.

    Also realize that a lot of people here about being an actuary and it is more competitive than you would think. If you pass enough exams though, I think you'll have a good chance of getting hired but I stress go and get the syllabus and few past papers to know what you are getting yourself into.

    I don't know all that much about engineering but I imagine engineering like many similar jobs (actuary, engineer, programmer, statistician, analytic job working in a business, etc) have the same kind of stresses and challenges but in their own specific way.

    If you want to be a 'loner' I would suggest you not become an actuary. Actuaries are business people and they have to communicate a lot with a variety of people of different roles.

    Also I would encourage you to become a little more social if you want to get into these kinds of jobs because employers need people that can communicate and work with one another: projects are now so complex that in order to accomplish something, team-work is really really important: be aware that an employer will have a good idea of how you are in this department after a solid interview.
  5. Mar 26, 2012 #4
    I feel like such a loser for saying this, but I grew up w/ the dumb mentality that u could just study for everything and expect it to rain gold on you. I never really had any concrete interests and now I have to choose since I'm gonna be sophomore soon in college. Btw, I know how to talk to people but i prefer being alone. I could easily force myself to get into an "engaging" conversation w/ someone else. Again, thanks for the replies; I hope to hear from more people.
  6. Mar 26, 2012 #5


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    Science Advisor

    If you realize this and do something about it, then that is without a doubt the most important thing: nothing wrong with being ignorant, but there is a huge problem about staying that way even when you've been aware of it time and time again.

    Also don't feel you have to be the life of the party at your work: if you work hard and have a good work ethic that should be adequate.

    Also realize that there are many different personalities required to get things done and I'm sure there are jobs that are suited for you: just don't expect that they will automatically have your name on them.

    My advice is don't try and be someone you're not. There's a difference between being reliable, honest, integral and ethical vs someone who has to change who they really are: you will be driven insane if you have to resort to that.
  7. Mar 26, 2012 #6
    It can be. There are actually a good number of actuarial jobs out there that are pretty routine and not that stressful, but adding exams to the mix can make them stressful. Then there are also some jobs that are stressful all by themselves. My job is stressful – hard deadlines that impact my pay. Add exams and a family to the mix and I find it very challenging.

    But that’s not all bad. I mean, if it’s low stress you’re looking for, you could be the box lid guy at the chicken plant. He’s the guy standing on the line that puts lids on the boxes. 20 lids a minute, or so, I think I heard. Every minute, for eight hours, except for breaks. Standing in one place, staring at the line, putting lids on boxes. Five days a week. Twelve months a year. You’ll be begging for some more stress in no time.

    Lately I’ve bitched a lot to my wife about the stress surrounding my job, but if I could choose my priorities, I probably wouldn’t give up anything I’m working on.

    I like my work a lot.

    The little elves that grind up broken dreams into magic dust are tittering with excitement.
  8. Mar 26, 2012 #7
    Another quick comment: I work closely without accounting department (and worked as a bookkeeper for an accounting firm long ago) and I think suggesting either accountants or actuaries have more stressful work is a dangerous generalization.

    I do think that there are more low stress job in accounting. However those are likely jobs you don’t want, anyways. They’re the box-lid jobs, so to speak. If you’re looking to become a CPA with real responsibilities, then the pay and stress are probably not going to be that different than actuarial work.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I find accounting work to be brain smashingly dull, but there’s just a liiiiiiitttllllee bit of subjective bias showing there.
  9. Mar 26, 2012 #8
    i dont think i'd mind dull so long as my hours are manageable and i can feed myself lol. I'm used to dull, I'm a grader at Kumon part-time; all i do is draw circles and x's for four hours straight... Btw, do you know of any cpas that make six-figures, I mean ppl who are still young (like in their 20s-30s?). Thanks for the info though.
  10. Mar 30, 2012 #9
    You are in major luck!

    I have recently created a Youtube playlist which generally introduces one into the occupation of Actuarial Science. Beware, it is just the tip of the iceberg, so don't feel as if you know everything about after watching it.

    I am also aspiring to, possibly, be an actuary. You see, I like math, but I also have loads of other interests; and one of those is economy and the psychotic idea of risk. So, I feel like I'd be a descent actuary because I'm social butterfly, well-rounded in a way, and a mathematics fanboy....but who knows. I might end up a basket weaver, in a month...yes my interests are that strong and broad.

    Anyhoozledoozle, here is the Youtube playlist, which I hope will aid you in taking a look at actuarial science:

    So, you want to be an actuary?
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