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What does an Actuary do?

In a world in which risk and uncertainty are present in all aspects of human life, an actuary is a skilled professional who has been trained in the assessment of those elements to determine their financial impact. Actuaries use their mathematical skills to evaluate the likelihood of certain events, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, then go on to tally the possible outcomes and propose measures to minimize the financial impact associated to them. For example, when a hurricane causes heavy damage to a certain area, an actuary must assess the risk of it happening again over the long term to be able to set prices for property insurance and reserves that will prevent future financial loss.

What sort of training and education will prepare me to become an actuary?

Because of the specialization an actuary needs to be able to accurately assess risk and uncertainty, training is extensive and involves several years. When you are looking to become an actuary, you will need to place your focus on subjects such as calculus, probability and statistics, economics, finance, and business.

While courses in finance, math, economics, or statistics are desirable when you want to become an actuary, many different backgrounds can be helpful, including research and physics. This means you will require at least four years of college prior to becoming an actuary. In some cases, a master's degree in math or actuarial science are a good choice if your undergraduate studies were in liberal arts or other unrelated subjects.

Once you have finished college and earned your bachelor's degree, you will have to start taking a series of preliminary exams that will determine whether you have the necessary skills to become an actuary. These exams can take place over a span of 6 to 10 years, but passing the first two is the most important step forward into an actuarial career and will allow you to start out as an actuarial assistant. Eventually, with hard work and good skills, you will reach your goal of becoming an actuary and reap the benefits of what has been deemed as one of the most satisfying careers today.

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