How I Chose Actuarial Science

Written by Miaoting Yang:

I am currently a member of the Coaching Actuaries team. As a Chinese girl, I completed the Actuarial Science program at Drake last December. I really liked everything I learned about in that program and am enjoying everything I do now at Coaching Actuaries.

However, like most other people, I knew nothing about Actuarial Science five years ago. DSC_0053

Just after I got my college admission test score, I stepped into the office of my math teacher for suggestions on my future. He is one of my favorite teachers, who always works with me on finding shortcuts to hard questions I have and explains everything with his unique sense of humor. I was actually a little upset when I was talking to him, because I could not be in his class anymore.

He mentioned three certifications: CPA, CFA and FSA. In other words, three different areas of professionalism: Accounting, Finance and Actuarial Science. That was the first time I had heard of actuarial science and I had no idea what he was talking about. The only two points I remember were: it has something to do with insurance and it’s hard!

Sooner or later, I could not even recall the name of actuarial science and decided to accept the offer from SWUPL for a marketing major program. The reason I chose marketing was silly. I was hoping that one day I could travel around the world to promote my product. Like all the other freshmen, I was informed about many new things in college: places, friends and events.

However, one semester later I found myself not a marketing girl. I was usually the last person to know when new products appeared in the market. I could not determine the needs of customers, nor come up with creative sales plans. To make things worse, I felt nervous with strangers and did not know how to start a conversation. Also, I was kind of missing numbers and equations.

I remembered someone once mentioned that accounting is about recording numbers for companies. I like numbers, so I decided to go with accounting. From journal entries to financial statements, I did a pretty good job on accounting after knowing all the rules. At the end of my second year, I got an opportunity to transfer from SWPLE to Drake. I had been looking forward to seeing the world outside China for a long time, so I went to Drake without a second thought.

At Drake, I got the chance to learn about their actuarial science program. I had recently gotten bored following all the accounting standards, so why not challenge myself a little bit? From then on, my life has been filled with actuarial science. There are a lot of math problems, of course, but it’s not terrible at all. Through using math techniques to evaluate the likelihood of future events, changing risk into opportunity and creating models to help decision-making, I am getting to know actuarial science well and really enjoy this amazing type of science.

A lot of people say no to being an actuary because the profession has hard exams. I must admit the exams are not easy, but you can handle them once you understand the basic knowledge and have enough practice. All the hard work will pay off when the exam is done. Even though I have already passed the five primary exams, I still have a long way to go, but I am really glad that I found the right field for me!

Why do you believe the actuarial field is for you?