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Would you recommend I go to graduate school? I'm trying to be an actuary.

  1. Dec 30, 2012 #1
    I am currently graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington with a 4.0, and I have my BofSci degree in math with an emphasis in ops research. I'm preparing for my actuarial tests, and I'm not worried about passing them. However, I know it's a bit of a tight market. I was considering studying finance to make myself more marketable, but I know my end game is being an actuary. So, should I spend my time without working as an actuary to study and improve my skills, or should I go to graduate school.

    Btw, I am trying to get in to either UT Austin or UT Dallas (to stay close to businesses) as my main schools studying either business analytics or financial risk management.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2012 #2


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    Hey Hodgey8806.

    I don't know what your Plan B is specifically, but if you think you can take a few exams then you should take them immediately and show in your applications your able to pass the exams (which is what they care about).

    I would go and recommend say a Masters of Statistics because of the hyper-specialization of a Risk Management degree or a "Business Analytics" which is just a nice corporate word for data mining, pattern recognition and other similar things.

    Its just my opinion of course, but the thing I worry about is that you will get specialized that would bar you from other jobs that are similar but don't understand the nature of your qualification.

    If you can sell your qualification of choice then thats great, but nowadays its getting harder with hiring companies not really understanding what the buzz words mean amongst other things.
  4. Dec 30, 2012 #3


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    I think you should attempt to pass some of the exams and see how the market works out for you. If you find it extremely hard to get a job, then it wouldn't hurt to beef up your application, but from my understanding, the market for an actuary is rather good, and it shouldn't be too hard for you to get a job.*

    *Of course, if you limit your choices to one city, you might be making it harder.
  5. Dec 31, 2012 #4
    Largely agree with the other posters, with one clarification – MarneMath says the market for actuaries is good, and they are correct. However, the market for actuarial analysts is not, and it will be 2 – 4 years before the OP becomes an actuary.

    OP, if your goal is to become an actuary I wouldn’t suggest grad school at all. More school isn’t as impressive as some real work at an insurance company. The underwriting department is a great place to start, if you can get a job there.

    Only a few actuarial departments are going to care about business analytics or financial risk management much. A statistics masters is probably your best bet, but spending more years in schools seems like a real waste.

    The SOA is offering P/1 in March, are you registered?

    Did you get your VEE’s taken care of while you were in school?
  6. Dec 31, 2012 #5
    As a side note, you should consider starting to build relationships soon, even if “building relationships” ends up meaning “get your name in their head”. At the latest, once you get a preliminary pass from exam P/1, send a few (hundred?) targeted emails to actuarial departments you might want to work at. Mention that you’re looking or will be looking for an actuarial job and include your resume.

    If anyone you know or that went to your undergrad university works in an actuarial department, make contact with them. Let them know you’re looking for work and see if they don’t mind your asking a few questions about what they do and what work in their department is like.

    You likely won’t get a bite before you get at least two official passes, but you never know. Part of the trick is that few actuarial departments are not in a constant state of hiring at the entry level. When they do decide to hire, having your resume on hand may be beneficial to you both.
  7. Dec 31, 2012 #6
    To expand on previous comments,

    Our department has been looking to hire a credentialed actuary for two years now. We’ve made a few offers, but they’re always snatched up by someone else. I don’t think (but can’t know for certain) that the offers are low; I think there’s just nobody out there.

    I have a theory consulting firms have gobbled them all up. At least, that’s the impression I get from the recruiters who have been calling me; they keep asking me if I’d be excited to move to these particular cities. Those cities usually have lots of consultants and not many/any insurance companies.
  8. Dec 31, 2012 #7
    I'm the only person in my department actually at work today.

    So, more locrian spam than usual.
  9. Dec 31, 2012 #8


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    Typically, graduates from actuarial programs go to work for a major insurance company where there are classes in the various actuarial exams, and they get raises for passing them, rather than taking a graduate degree in them.
  10. Dec 31, 2012 #9
    Thank you for your responses. Currently, I am interning as an ops analyst at a distribution center. I don't plan to stick in operations, however.

    Do you think the fact that I have a internship experience--though it's not in insurance--will work in my favor?
  11. Jan 1, 2013 #10
    It can. Potential employers are going to ask questions to try and figure out what you did and see how the experience reflects on you.

    Actuarial employers are interested in hiring someone who has the potential to learn skills necessary to do the job, someone who can pass the actuarial exams, and someone they want to work closely with. An internship isn't going to help much with the first two, but it may help with the last one.

    As a side note, there's absolutely nothing you would learn in grad school that would help you in my job that you wouldn't learn in the exams anyways. It's probably true that there is nothing you will learn in grad school that would benefit you in my job that you wouldn't learn in any office job with some responsibility. It might even be true, depending on what you go to grad school in, that there's nothing you would learn in grad school that would help you in my job, period.
  12. Jan 2, 2013 #11
    Thanks again for your reply.

    I will be registering for my first exam hopefully by March!

    Have a great 2013!
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