How to be an actuary

The Actuary explores how to start an actuarial career. This is a UK magazine, but the advice is good for anyone starting out anywhere in the world.

My old fart advice for someone going into property-casualty insurance:

  1. Pass the exams. If you don’t, you limit your upside. I’ve worked with extremely talented people whom I couldn’t promote because they lacked the credential.
    The world shouldn’t turn on a piece of paper that way. It does. Sorry.
    Further, when times are tight, as they are now, out-of-work actuaries with credentials get hired before the non-credentialed.
  2. Start out at a consulting firm, because then you will be exposed to everything. Disadvantage: The hours batter your study schedule.
    Better, go to a medium-sized firm that does a lot of different things, like insurance, reinsurance, captives, international business, etc. You’ll see a lot of stuff, and you’re more likely to get your study time. Disadvantage: Not many companies like this; most diverse companies are too big to let you see everything.
  3. Play golf. I think golf should be on the exams. If your career progresses, your bosses will ask you to play, and it’s good to be ready.
    I do know non-golfers who are successful in insurance, but I don’t know too many. And getting to the top that way is like climbing the stairs of the Empire State Building. Better to take the elevator.

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