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What is Actuarial Science and why study it?
What is actuarial science and why study it

What is Actuarial Science and why study it?

News & tips on your studies and career!

Nowadays it’s common among students to pick a field of study looking at the distant future. University candidates often choose their degree or major based on the career path they’ve already decided to follow. In other words, most prospective students have a plan. And having a plan usually leads to a career in one of the most lucrative and exciting professions.

Of course, before you devise your plan, it's good to know what the most promising career paths are. One of them is becoming an actuary, a scientist who applies intricate mathematic and statistical models to assess financial risks and influence public or private policies to control or mitigate them.

If you’ve never heard of it, that's because to work as an actuary, you must pass many examinations even after graduating. It's a long and demanding professional path, but also quite rewarding. And it all starts with studying actuarial science.

Discover the ideal field of study for you by taking our free aptitude test. Explore your strengths and interests and find bachelor's and master's programs that align with your preferences!

What is actuarial science?

One might say that actuarial science is a scientific approach to predicting the future! Or, at least, the next best thing, which is predicting the possible direct or indirect impact of past and current events on different financial outcomes.

Actuarial science is the science of applying mathematical and statistical models to study natural events (like, for instance, mortality rates), assess the potential financial risk in different industries and fields, and produce feasible solutions to minimize its impact or entirely avoid it. In other words, actuaries hold the keys to dealing with future problems, like preventing the pension system from crashing due to a fast-aging population, preemptively.

Academically, actuarial science is an interdisciplinary field that combines the knowledge of mathematics, statistics, economics, and computer science. That makes it one of the most exciting but also demanding fields of study out there.

What’s the importance of actuarial science?

The importance of actuarial science is evident if one considers its impact on the insurance industry, where the discipline was first widely applied back in the 18th century.

For ages, actuaries have assessed the short or long-term financial risks of insurance products and provided the basis for making them less precarious and more profitable. Nowadays, actuarial science can be applied in many different business fields but maintains its core application of safeguarding financial stability and turning potential loss into potential profit.

To achieve that particular expertise, actuaries are trained for many years before becoming eligible to assume their duties and launch a career in this uncommon, elite-attracting professional path.

Where can I pursue an Actuarial Science degree?

Where should someone start their journey to launch a longstanding career as an actuary? What should they study first? Is an actuarial science degree the only legitimate entry point to a potential actuary career?

The truth is that there is more than one path to becoming an actuary. You can begin from many starting points other than a bachelor’s (BSc) in actuarial science, like majoring in math, economics, finance, statistics, or computer science. Then, you can follow up with a master's in actuarial science and then pursue a successful career.

Mind you, there are even more challenges ahead as you climb the actuary career ladder, but that's the point, right? To succeed in a field where constant training and performance optimization is the norm.

Pursuing a BSc in Actuarial Science

For anyone with their mind set on becoming an actuary, starting with an actuarial science degree right from the bat seems like the best option.

A BSc in actuarial science is an interdisciplinary degree that introduces candidates to all intertwining disciplines, like statistics and economics, and aptly prepares them for the exhausting exams following graduation. Essential courses include mathematics, accounting, corporate finance, risk management, insurance policies, survival analysis, stochastic processes, research methodologies, descriptive statistics, etc.

The only setback could be that an actuarial science degree is very specific and takes hard work from the very beginning. Studying a broader field before specializing in actuarial science could give someone time to reevaluate and even change their career plans.

Why pursue an MSc in Actuarial Science

For aspiring actuaries from different undergraduate backgrounds, an MSc in actuarial science is the next logical step to laying the foundation of their career.

In many countries, an actuarial science degree is mandatory to qualify as an actuary, but even when it isn't, an MSc in actuarial science cannot be easily bypassed since it's usually built to help candidates prepare and succeed in the rigorous exams required to be an actuary. Additionally, without an actuarial science degree, aspiring actuaries may not be as employable at entry-level positions or as well-prepared to undergo the long accreditation process later on.

With a solid academic background in mathematics, finance, or other similar disciplines, and an MSc in actuarial science, the road to an actuary career is usually half-paved.

If you’re planning on pursuing an actuarial science degree abroad, a scholarship may provide valuable resources for a stress-free experience. Learn how to get a scholarship to study abroad on Brive.

Studying Actuarial Science in the UK

The UK is an international mecca of higher education, and many students from every part of the world pursue their studies and start their careers there. Today, several UK universities offer actuarial science degrees at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, among them some of the top-ranked institutions globally.

Studying Actuarial Science in Canada

The Land of the Maple Leaf is a popular higher-education hub for international students due to its several world-renowned institutions, friendly cities, and multicultural lifestyle. Canadian schools offer undergraduate and postgraduate programs specializing in actuarial science, along with ample professional opportunities for anyone who wants to start a career in Canada upon graduation.

What are the Actuarial Science exams

Actuaries primarily work in the insurance industry, where business processes are highly intricate and require maximum knowledge and precision. That's why becoming a qualified actuary is usually a longstanding process, albeit it differs from country to country.

For example, in the UK, Canada, the US, Germany, and many other places, the qualification system requires several years of studying and taking one challenging actuarial science exam after another. The actuarial science exams can be more than ten, covering every possible skill necessary for a career as an actuary. These can take up to ten years to complete. In Canada, however, good grades can help aspiring actuaries be exempt from some preliminary actuarial science exams. In other places, like Denmark, having 5 years of studies and the required years of professional experience can land someone the desired actuary title.

Wherever exams are required, actuarial science graduates usually begin their careers with entry-level jobs and finish their qualification requirements as they go. It may sound long and tedious, but it's also rewarding because it leads to top-level positions and lucrative professional lives.

What are the best Actuarial Science jobs?

As mentioned above, actuaries tend to work in insurance, where making accurate estimations about financial risks and profitability is highly critical.

But actuarial science studies equip graduates with a lot more than the skills required to pass their actuary qualification exams. Coming out of the university, future actuaries are adept at accounting, statistics, economics, data science, business analytics, etc.

So, besides following a career as an actuary, an actuarial science graduate can fill several challenging positions like an actuarial consultant, underwriter, insurance actuarial analyst, business analyst, investment analyst, risk analyst, and many more. The greatest upside, though, is that these are some of the highest-paying jobs in any industry!

Why study Actuarial Science?

Actuarial science is a centuries-old discipline incorporating mathematical, problem-solving, and communication skills to mitigate risks and facilitate financial stability and growth. Studying for an actuarial science degree provides students with a secure path to a solid professional career. Also, a broad knowledge arsenal for pursuing other studies or professional paths.

In the end, deciding to pursue a BSc or MSc in actuarial science is a matter of answering these significant questions:

  • How dedicated are you to building a career in the insurance sector as a qualified actuary?
  • Are you ready to follow your degree with a long period of preparing for and taking difficult actuarial science exams?
  • How interested are you in the many disciplines you must master to prepare for one of the top-level actuarial science jobs?
  • Are you ready to become a polymath and compete with elite actuarial science graduates following the same path to success?

Take a few moments to think about it.

The Actuarial Science FAQ

If your answer to the above is "yes, yes, yes, and yes," then you're ready to pursue an actuarial science degree. In that case, you may have some questions of your own.

How do I qualify to study actuarial science?

Each institution has its own qualification requirements you should ask about. For a BSc in actuarial science, you may need good grades in subjects like mathematics, computer science, etc. For a master’s in actuarial science, you may need a relevant BSc, for example, in math, statistics, economics, etc.

What subjects will I study in actuarial science?

Actuarial science combines various subjects, like mathematics, statistics, probability theory, risk management, business finance, computer science, data analytics, and many more.

What degree is best for becoming an actuary?

A BSc and MSc in actuarial science is the optimal foundation for a future career as an actuary. But holding any relevant degree, like math, finance, computer science, etc., and an MSc in actuarial science can propel you to a longstanding actuary career.

Can I study actuarial science after my BSc?

Yes, you can follow your BSc with an MSc in actuarial science. Although, most institutions may require your BSc to be relevant (i.e., math, statistics, economics, accounting, etc.).

Do I need math to study actuarial science?

Yes, mathematics is an essential part of actuarial science. Even if you were not adept in math before beginning your studies, you have to adjust and hone your math skills as you go.

Is actuary a stressful job?

No. According to all related reports, working as an actuary is a low-stress and mentally stimulating profession.

Is actuarial science difficult?

Yes, it combines various disciplines and thus requires much studying from day one. And it requires even more studying if you decide to pursue an actuary qualification because of the many hard examinations.

Is actuarial science better than chartered accounting?

It's a totally different discipline, but whether it's better is something candidates must decide for themselves.

Is becoming an actuary a good career choice?

Actuaries are highly employable, well paid, and according to official reports, they will remain in high demand for years to come.

How long does it take to become an actuary?

Studying for a relevant BSc and an MSc in actuarial science takes up to 5 years, but taking the exams required in most countries can take up to 10 years.

Actuarial science: the takeaway

Nowadays, many degrees lead to lucrative careers, but few require the dedication and tenacity needed to complete an actuarial science degree and launch a career, whether as an actuary or in one of the many high-profile **actuarial science jobs.

Overall, taking the path to an actuarial science degree looks difficult but rewarding, as it leads to challenging academic endeavors and fulfilling professional choices.

Stay tuned!

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