Pursuing Actuarial Science as a Non-Major

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I’m a senior at the University of Delaware. I have been in what I believe to be a not so rare situation. That is, I am not an Actuarial Science major, but I am seeking a career as an actuary. I’m sure many of you reading this are under the same circumstance and perhaps there are a variety of reasons why. My reason is that until this year Actuarial Science was not an offered major at the University of Delaware, so I chose the next best thing. Because of this, much of my course selection and similar decision-making was left up to me to decide, including placing myself on a track to be qualified for what the examinations require as well as what employers will expect. So any of you starting out in a position like mine, this blog will share with you what I believe to be some of the most important things I have learned while pursuing my own path to becoming an Actuary.

Course Selection:

Math Courses: This one is pretty obvious, but noting specifically calculus, optimization, and probability.

Economics Courses: If you have the opportunity to take a course on risk, information, and uncertainty, it could be one of the most beneficial courses in aiding your overall understanding of the applications of mathematics.

Statistics Courses: Specifically ones focusing on data analysis and manipulation using software and programming language. Learn SAS. Learn SQL. Learn Visual Basic. All of these are the core “technical skills”. You don’t want to skip over these. Note this specifically for you math majors, as you may look past taking statistics classes.

Finance Course: Surprisingly, finance courses are incredible at furthering applications of risk, investments, payouts, losses, etc. Don’t over look these either; they could be quite valuable to you in your general knowledge of how things in actuarial science actually work.

Exams:

If you don’t have an actuarial sciences major, odds are there isn’t much of a support system on your campus for actuaries in training, so here’s the #1 thing you should know about these exams. DON’T WAIT. Start now. Start taking them as soon as you can perform double integrals. You can pass them and you need them to obtain internships (which you also want to start applying to early).

Internships:

Continuing, APPLY EARLY! And by early I mean if you’re applying for a summer internship, you better start applying in September and October. Actuarial internships are notorious for filling up early and you don’t want to feel like you missed out.

What can you do now:

Get involved in other math-y things! Do research, all math departments love having undergrads work on research teams, and it’s a great resume booster. You’ll learn a lot and gain experience working as a part of a team. That is a really strong attribute to have and employers will appreciate that you have that experience.

The path to becoming an actuary will constantly be pushing down on you, but keep at it and push back even harder and you’ll get there.