There is no specific major or minor to declare in order to become an actuary. Rather, you must past a series of exams offered by the SOA (Society of Actuaries) and CAS (Casualty Actuarial Society). The ASA (Associate of the Society of Actuaries) and ACAS (Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society) designation require seven exams. The FSA (Fellow of the Society of Actuaries) and FCAS (Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society) designation require two more, for a total of nine. Students looking to enter the actuarial profession are supported and encouraged by the Mathematics department through course work and internship opportunities.
You don't need to be a math major to be an actuary, but it certainly helps to have a strong mathematics background. Economics, finance, and accounting are other majors that lend well towards becoming an actuary. You should aim to take actuarial exams as early as possible in your college career.
Courses in Mathematics
- Calc I, II, and III (M221, M222, M223)
- Linear Algebra (M233)
- Probability M360 and Statistics (M361)
- Foundations of Actuarial Science (M366)
- Financial Mathematics (M376) - Offered in the Spring
The class M366 - Foundations of Actuarial Science is offered every semester, this is the preparatory class for Exam P/1. This course is an advanced problem solving seminar with the goal of preparing students for the first actuarial examination.
The class M376 - Financial Mathematics is offered every spring, this is the preparatory class for Exam FM/2.
Courses in Business
- Financial Accounting (Acct 102)
- Managerial Accounting (Acct 103)
- Managerial Finance (FNCE 311)
- Information Technology for Business (Excel & Access) MGMT250
Minor in Economics: ECON 110, 112, 210, 212, two 300-level electives & Math 213 or 221
Minor in business Studies: MGMT 100, ECON 110, ACCT 102, four electives with a minimum of two 300-level.
Other classes required by the SOA and CAS are known as VEE (Validation by Educational Experience) credits. We currently provide classes that satisfy all 3 topics, but due to the ASA curriculum changes, these courses are subject to change each semester:
- Introductory Microeconomics (ECON110) AND one of the following:
- Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 212) or Macroeconomics (ECON 112)
- Corporate Finance (FNCE 311)
- Mathematical Statistics (Math 380)
**More information about the curriculum changes.
Studying for Exams
A large part of becoming an Actuary is getting used to independent study. In general, many students say to study 100 hours per hour of the exam. For exams FM and P, that's 300 hours each. If on average there are 16 weeks in a semester, that's 19 additional hours of studying a week on top of your classwork. While this may seem daunting at first, keep in mind many others have done it! The following table shows the average completion time for the preliminary exams.
|Rank||Exam Path||Number of People||Average Completion Time (Years)|
Second to exams, computer skills are the most important asset for a candidate when applying for internships and full time employment. While computer science is not directly required, a good working knowledge of programming is. Excel is very important and you should attempt to do research in Excel or take a course in Excel such as MGMT 250 (Information Technology for Business).
"Possessing an above-average understanding of both Excel and Access is a must, and to a lesser extent Word and PowerPoint. SQL is becoming an indispensable skill, and many employers are requiring knowledge or even mastery of it before consideration. Programming languages such as VBA and C++ are beginning to become a requirement as well. The better your computer skills, the more likely you are to be hired!"
Another important program is SAS (Statistical Analysis System), it combines database management with statistical analysis and powerful report features. SAS offers a free e-learn course for basic commands and statistical analysis.