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Thoughts on career path

  1. Sep 13, 2012 #1
    Hello everyone,

    Little back story, so when I began college as a freshman I thought I wanted to become a doctor. My sister already being in med school it seemed like a challenging and rewarding career which could ultimately make me a lot of money.

    However speaking with my physics teacher, and other doctors, I found out that becoming a doctor goes against everything I want to achieve in life. Cant have a lot of free time/ exciting social life, the stress level is off the charts, and I feel like you wont really enjoy life unless you are in love with medicine.

    Speaking with my physics teacher he kind of persuaded me to move into the field of engineering, even though I am already an engineering major with great grades, and such.
    However I want a career where the stress level is not insane, and I can still have a lot of free time to travel, and make decent money without burning out.

    So I have been looking into actuaries, and seems like a sure fit, but I want to hear first hand from any of you who are/know about actuaries what the lifestyle is like/ stress rate.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2012 #2


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    Hey Mdhiggenz.

    One little piece of information you may want to know is that becoming a qualified actuary takes a very long time, (I think the average is something like seven years and it can be higher).

    When you are trying to qualify you need to pass exams. Here in Australia it is recommended that you put in approximately 300-400 hours for each individual exam and here we have a total of 14 exams (if you include the Part II requirement).

    We have an actuarial science degree in Australia where you can get the exemptions for Part I and II by getting really good marks in a four year degree but you still need to do get some work experience, do the three post-graduate exams, do a lot of supervised experience, then attend a small workshop and only after all this you become qualified.

    In the US it is similar but you do a lot of the exams externally (as opposed to Australia where our degree allows you to get credit for the majority if your marks are high enough).

    So during this time of studying for exams, you will basically have no life just like those doctors when they are living in a hospital getting experience and earning their stripes.

    It's only after you finally qualify as an actuary that you'll begin to see the 9-5 type environment with a very good monetary reward for your work.

    The reason why exams are required is that like medicine, it is a regulated professional body with its own standards, and because what they do has massive effects on society (since insurance affects everybody especially when it breaks down and collapses), then it means that there is a requirement for licensing and part of that licensing is passing really tough exams.

    My suggestion for you is that if you want to become an actuary, then get a mathematics degree with a major in statistics and do the hardest statistics subjects you can along with all the hardest applied mathematics courses that you can including the financial mathematics courses.

    The other courses like accounting/business/finance/economics can be easily learned later, but the real thing is going to be whether you are able to eventually comprehend statistics and mathematics well enough so that when you see all the actuarial applications, you can understand what is going on and if you can then you will have a much better chance of passing that relevant exam.

    So yeah just keep in mind that you won't have a life until at minimum you finally qualify and become a licensed actuary and that's going to be for quite a while (I'd take a conservative estimate of 10 years since you may want to have a break somewhere or you might fail a few exams as well).
  4. Sep 14, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the reply Chiro!
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