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Does the actuarial exams only open the actuarial door?

  1. Mar 25, 2013 #1
    I graduated with a degree in mathematics back in 2005 and have been working in the insurance industry, unfortunately, not math or quant related at all (more on the customer service, management side). So actual math, statistical work experience = 0.

    I"m now 30 and I'm looking to be a career changer. I'm going back and will focus on the actuarial exams to get in to the actuarial field. The hope is that with 2 to 3 exams passed, I can compete with the undergrads who have had internships, and get in the door at entry level and work my way up.

    (P.S: If any one has any comment on the feasibility of this, please feel free to add. I'm a bit concerned whether I have a chance to be employed with 2 to 3 exams + 0 experience). Is age a big factor?

    My question is, assuming I pass my 2 to 3 exams, if I'm having trouble getting into the actuarial profession for whatever reason, do I still have a chance to get into other mathematical field based on me passing actuarial exams. Do other non-actuarial professions recognize actuarial exams as a competency tool to make hiring decisions for entry level.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2013 #2
    Age is not a big factor in the actuarial field. In fact, working in the actuarial field doesn't even require a degree or a bachelor in mathematics. Insurance companies and such only look at how many exams you've completed, and sometimes at the experience acquired. You said you've been working in an insurance industry... that still counts as "related experience" even though it wasn't precisely in the actuarial field.

    To answer your question, a friend of mine finished his bachelors in actuary a few years ago, tried to work in the field, didn't like it, and now he's teaching mathematics in college. He had no trouble getting in... I guess having a few exams completed (+ with good GPA from your mathematics degree) shows that you could be a good candidate, mostly because it's a well-known fact that these exams aren't the easiest around.
  4. Mar 25, 2013 #3
    Hi semidevil,

    In my early 30’s I switched from physics to actuarial work. I’m now an ASA working at an insurance company in the US. Needless to say, I think the idea of switching to actuarial work at 30 to be pretty plausible.

    However, I can’t make much in the way of comments until I know where you are located. The country you are in is going to have a big impact on your odds of employment and the tactics you use to become employed. Even the difference between the US and Canada is huge; if you're in Germany, I won't be able to comment much at all.

    I think I can say this, though: your insurance experience is to your benefit, especially if you learned plenty about your product lines while working in that job. Two big problems with new hires are that they have no industry knowledge and they may not cope well with a professional office atmosphere. You may, depending on what your work was like, be way ahead in both those areas.

    If you’re in the US let us know and I’ll throw a few more thoughts out there.
  5. Mar 25, 2013 #4
    Concerning the thread title: in both the US and Canada, actuarial exams have value to actuarial departments and no one else. Most everyone else, even in quantitative jobs, won’t know anything about them and won’t care that you passed them.

    Actuarial exams are cheap and quick (can knock out two in six months, with some dedication), but you’d be wise to be looking at other options, too.
  6. Mar 25, 2013 #5
    Thanks for the replies. My current location is Asia (hong kong), but most likely I'll look to work in the U.S. I'm just abroad for the time being on personal stuff.

    When I come back though, I'll probably have to decide which state I want to live in. I figure the bigger states with the home offices are where all the jobs are at (Cali, Texas, etc etc)
  7. Mar 25, 2013 #6
    If your past insurance work was in the US then it's probably worth more than an internship, even if it was not actuarial or quantitative in nature.

    Age and experience won't be your problem. There will be other problems. The entry level market is pretty saturated and it can be tough to get your foot in the door. If you are not a US citizen, that would be a problem. If your name sounds foreign and you do not need a visa, then make sure to mention the fact either in your cover letter or resume. Act Depts will happily hire foreigners, but they often wont foot a bill and a bunch of hassle to import them if they can just pick up a local instead.

    The top 3 are New York, Chicago and Hartford. You're right that Dallas, LA and San Francisco are big, too. The best plan is to extend your range across the country and pick the first good choice you can get.

    If your experience at an insurance company gave you some background in the product line and some office experience, leverage that, it has value. But the first step is passing the exams. Nobody cares until you've passed at least one exam.

    Best of luck and keep us updated.
  8. Apr 18, 2013 #7
    Thanks for all the feedback. I'm a u.s citizen, so I won't have to deal with the sponsorship, thank goodness.

    A question I have is regarding to a related job while I work on the exams this year( I anticipate FM to be done by October or November).

    Like I said, I have the 8 years of experience in claims and I am actually abroad job hunting too. So I'm deciding what is the best use of my time in finding a related job that will further help me into the actuarial field (this is all assuming I can't find an actuarial internship). Continue with claims, try underwriting, or maybe a non insurance position? If so,what kind?

    The last 2 will néed to be entry level, but I'm fine with that if it can help
  9. Apr 18, 2013 #8
    Underwriting might be better, but in my humble opinion the difference is small in the scheme of things.

    The next big step is to get MFE and/or MLC under your belt, if you haven't already. Note that the CAS and SOA have recently ended their partnership on the preliminary exams, which is really aggrevating. However, I think they're both still recognizing the same exams, which is both weird and aggrevating. So do some regular readings on their sites (or the actuarial outpost) to ensure you're taking the right exam.

    After that, it's resume and interviewing skills. I think you have some real advantages over other candidates, but it won't matter if you can't leverage them in the hiring process.
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