The path to becoming an actuary is about as complicated as it gets. Being able to understand the many details and steps required to get a job is complicated in itself. Then after you’ve received a job, there are many more steps you have to take to become distinguished in the field. The best thing I have done in my pursuit of becoming an actuary is educating myself on the process of becoming distinguished—being an associate or fellow of an actuarial society.
Many students major in actuarial science or a related field in the hopes of pursuing a career as an actuary. But if they are anything like me, they have no idea about the different exams, VEE credits, and other things that are required to have a successful actuarial career. All I knew going in to college was that I’d have to take exams. It wasn’t until I actually sat down and did my homework that I learned all of the ins and outs of becoming an actuary. Actually learning the process gives you the opportunity to set goals for yourself and a vision of where you need to go.
An unfortunate reality at most colleges and universities is that there are rarely any professors who had a career as an actuary. Though your professors may be very familiar with the steps required to becoming an actuary, it is hard to find someone who has actually gone through the process. This is especially true for students like me who attend colleges with small actuarial programs. This has caused me to actually look to students at my school who are currently ahead of me in the process of becoming an actuary. My professors helped me, but having a mentor who can offer their personal stories and advice is valuable. This is especially true in a career field that is so unique.
With all this being said, I encourage anyone who wants to be an actuary to learn the process first. I have always been told to pass one exam to get an internship, and a second exam to get a job. But it goes so much beyond that. It is essential to know what’s ahead. An actuary’s goal shouldn’t be to just get a job. Surrounding yourself with others who have or are going through the exam process and familiarizing yourself with it will provide you with a knowledge that is required to embark on a wonderful career as an actuary.