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Question of Degree?

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  • Question of Degree?

    I've been exploring the Actuary career and preparing for the first exam. My question is how employers weigh degree vs. exams. I completed a Bacehlor of General Education, a three year degree with a 3.2GPA, mostly from McGill but completed at Athabascau University (Distance Education)

    I feel I'd be a good candidate given my broad education, and apply for jobs after 3 exams to prove my capabilities. Majority of courses are in Biology, 2 semesters of Calculus, 2 semesters of Economics.

    Most entry level opportunties prefer an Actuarial Science Degree? How do I overcome this given my education background? Should I stress the courses I've taken or finesse around it?
    Last edited by vicco; January 17 2006, 06:28 PM.

  • #2
    Exams are a lot more important than a specific degree. If you can pass 3 exams, then you should be able to get a job regardless of your degree. Also, you could put some relevant courses on your resume to show you have experience in economics, calculus, etc..


    • #3
      You may also want to look into whether your courses will count toward the VEE credits; the economics may but only if you have done micro and macro.

      I have just finished my MBA in Finance through NYIT - all online - with a 3.95 GPA, but am still looking at having 2 exams and the VEE for finance and economics to try and get me through. My main thought is that the MBA will show aptitude and doggedness by doing it all online in two years while working full time.
      Proper prior planning prevents poor performance!


      • #4
        Thanks, it is one less thing to fret about over the next year. I am considering doing a Masters so that might help. Looking for US Visa requirements for actuary, I am pretty sure a Bachelors is required to enter...?


        • #5
          Similar situation to me. I am going to finish my Ph.D degree in Cancer biology, but I am tired about bench work and being a scientist. I have been looking for career change for awhile. I am fairly good in math (99% in GRE) and statistics (A in college), and very interested in economics and finance (auditing some class). Also considering future job marketing (especially in my homeland China), I am seriously thinking about to be actuary.

          After reading the forum, I think there are two major paths to follow:
          1. Try to finish first two exams, audit or take credits of some economics and finance courses (VEE approved), then directly looking for intership or even a entry-level job after Ph.D.

          2. Try to finish two exams and apply for a master program in Actuarial Science (at Boston Univ. or Univ of Wisconcin Madison....), and try to finish the 3rd/4th exams during the master, then look for a job at higher level.

          Since I am competing with younger people (I am 27 already) on the job market, I really want to achieve it ASAP. Please give me some comments and advices. Thanks in advance.



          • #6
            Many, many new actuaries are over 27 - that is not a problem and should not be a consideration at all. If you pass a couple of exams and can interview well, you will get a job - that simple. A guy I work with had two exams and majored in Philosophy and was hired and is working out really well. Your major isn't really an issue, it's about the exams and you personally. If you want to start soon, then get studying, pass the first couple of exams and you should be fine.


            • #7
              Thanks for your comments.

              Is there any advantage to spend two years in a master program in Actuarial Science (AS)? Is it true that if I have a mater degree in AS with first 2 exams passed will be hired in a higher level (compare to non-degree)?

              Seems like people can start to find a job, or even be promoted to mid-level, without a degree in AS. But there are some rumors that if people do not have degree in AS from a decent school, it will be harder to be promoted to very high position. Is that true.

              I guess I probably will study by myself, but I am just curious why there are so many people still spend money and time to get a master degree in AS.



              • #8
                Are you an international student?
                Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


                • #9
                  I've never heard those rumors and from what I've seen, they are untrue. Once you're hired, advancement is based on actuarial designation, experience, performance, and personality (by this I mean how well you get along with others, public speaking comfort, leadership ability, etc). I also believe that the experience you'll get in the time it takes to get a masters is more valuable, at least in this field of work, than the masters degree itself.


                  • #10
                    Yes, I am an international student getting a Ph.D degree in Cancer biology next summer. There must be some disadvantages for non-native people, I understand. i.e. language, culture... But still want to listen to any input here, because very interested in this field.


                    • #11
                      About being foreign. The guy that introduced me to Actuarial Science was an intern in Detroit but had come to Canada from China a few before that.


                      • #12
                        Sounds feasible. I am from china, and just want to switch my major from biological research to AS, and finally go back china. I have to have decent experience in US to be competitive enough to find a good position in my homeland.