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What happens if I absolutely can't pass all the exams?

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  • What happens if I absolutely can't pass all the exams?

    I'm going back to school in September and contemplating majoring in actuarial science. I've looked over some sample actuarial exams and I believe that I am capable of passing the first 2 exams. However, I'm also aware that the exams do become progressively harder and the fact is that not everyone is cut out to become an actuary.

    Hypothetically, if I don't pass any exams beyond the first two, are there job opportunities out there for me? Is it possible to get and maintain a stable, decent paying job with only 1 or 2 passed exams? What kind of salary can I expect? I'm asking these questions so that I can have a solid plan B if plan A doesn't work out.

    Any help/advice is greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by nton915; April 3 2010, 05:06 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by nton915 View Post
    I'm going back to school in September and contemplating majoring in actuarial science. I've looked over some sample actuarial exams and I believe that I am capable of passing the first 2 exams. However, I'm also aware that the exams do become progressively harder and the fact is that not everyone is cut out to become an actuary.

    Hypothetically, if I don't pass any exams beyond the first two, are there job opportunities out there for me? Is it possible to get and maintain a stable, decent paying job with only 1 or 2 passed exams? What kind of salary can I expect? I'm asking these questions so that I can have a solid plan B if plan A doesn't work out.

    Any help/advice is greatly appreciated.
    Some companies have jobs in the actuarial department for non-exam takers. When there are budget cuts, usually those are the first to go (if someone has to be cut from actuarial). One of the most important things is, you won't be able to sign off on documents so nothing really separates you from let's say a financial analyst... (at least for awhile). As far as salary ranges, DW Simpson has a salary survey on their website, look at that one for starters.

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    • #3
      I've always wondered the same question too.
      Will getting a Master degree in Finance, Accounting, or Economics after undergrad give us more options if we happened to only pass the first 1 or 2 exams?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by psp-fifa-fan View Post
        I've always wondered the same question too.
        Will getting a Master degree in Finance, Accounting, or Economics after undergrad give us more options if we happened to only pass the first 1 or 2 exams?
        More opportunities to be accountants, financial analysts, economists, maybe.

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        • #5
          I know passing 2 exams with the intention of finishing all of them is what companies are looking for because they see you as an investment if you are to become an actuary.

          However, if i don't finish any more exams will those 2 completed exams be seen as an advantage over those who have no exams passed? Do they have any weight even though I have no intention taking any more courses?

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          • #6
            With the number of people who are eager, willing, and able to perform the functions of a fully qualified actuary, I have a hard time imagining a company would bother making a long-term commitment to somebody who isn't committed to fellowship. It seems this idea is fairly evident in the way employers screen for candidates and interview potential hires. In my experience, most employers place an extremely high priority on finding candidates who are fully committed to being an actuary. If you don't intend to pursue all the exams, it would cast serious doubt on how committed you are to staying in the career.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Stodd View Post
              With the number of people who are eager, willing, and able to perform the functions of a fully qualified actuary, I have a hard time imagining a company would bother making a long-term commitment to somebody who isn't committed to fellowship. It seems this idea is fairly evident in the way employers screen for candidates and interview potential hires. In my experience, most employers place an extremely high priority on finding candidates who are fully committed to being an actuary. If you don't intend to pursue all the exams, it would cast serious doubt on how committed you are to staying in the career.
              What if you're fully committed to pursue all the exams and become an actuary, but somehow you just get stuck on certain exam(s) and just can't pass them anymore? Will you get laid off? Or will you be able to keep your job but without any promotion or salary increase?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by psp-fifa-fan View Post
                What if you're fully committed to pursue all the exams and become an actuary, but somehow you just get stuck on certain exam(s) and just can't pass them anymore? Will you get laid off? Or will you be able to keep your job but without any promotion or salary increase?
                Depends what exam that is, if you have your ASA, there's more of a chance they'd just let you be a career ASA and you'd still be part of the Actuarial department. If it's one of the prelims, you'd become part of the "support" for an actuarial department but your job would be on the line first if there are budget cuts IMO.

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                • #9
                  What if you reach ASA level and then stop taking exams because you're satisfied with the pay and don't want to increase job stress? Would your job be threatened? Would employers start looking to replace you with people who are willing to pass more exams?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Happychick90 View Post
                    What if you reach ASA level and then stop taking exams because you're satisfied with the pay and don't want to increase job stress? Would your job be threatened? Would employers start looking to replace you with people who are willing to pass more exams?
                    It varies by employer and the type of company from what I understand. Consulting seems to accept career ASAs a lot better

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NoMoreExams View Post
                      It varies by employer and the type of company from what I understand. Consulting seems to accept career ASAs a lot better
                      After getting an ASA designation, do i still need to take other exams/courses to work in consulting firms? Will getting a master degree in finance help getting a job in consulting firms even if you couldn't get the ASA designation?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by psp-fifa-fan View Post
                        After getting an ASA designation, do i still need to take other exams/courses to work in consulting firms? Will getting a master degree in finance help getting a job in consulting firms even if you couldn't get the ASA designation?
                        Like I said before, I don't know, I don't work in a consulting firm. It will vary from what I understand. Getting a Masters in Finance will help working as a financial analyst for consulting firms. Degrees don't replace exams, I am not sure why you keep asking about that.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NoMoreExams View Post
                          Like I said before, I don't know, I don't work in a consulting firm. It will vary from what I understand. Getting a Masters in Finance will help working as a financial analyst for consulting firms. Degrees don't replace exams, I am not sure why you keep asking about that.
                          sorry for asking too many times about this question, cuz i just wanted to make sure i have a back-up plan in mind. Thanks a lot man

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                          • #14
                            This situation varies widely depending on what company you work for.

                            The company I work for is perfectly happy to let you stay in your current position for as long as you like and they leave the career advancement to the ambitious. There are a few people who got 5-6 exams in and then started a family. Their priorities changed and they were satisfied doing what they were doing career-wise. They aren't looked down upon either. In fact, they are viewed as experts in their particular areas. Now I imagine that if they wanted to leave for another company, they may have some trouble, but they are happy where they are and the company is happy with what the contribute to the department. The push for more exams is nonexistant here, unless it is your personal goal.

                            Naturally, I expect that my company is likely the exception rather than the rule, but I would bet that there are others like it. I believe it may be a result of the company being located in the Southeast. It's just a different type of work environment compared to New England and the Midwest.

                            However, i believe that you are approaching the situation incorrectly. Don't make career decisions based on a backup plan (i.e. stagnating at a few exams). If you are bright enough to pass a quantitative degree program like Actuarial Science and pass even the first 2 exams, than you are certainly capable of going all the way. It just takes hard work and persistance. Don't ever count yourself out. Don't get discouraged by failing an exam. Keep trying.

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                            • #15
                              Yeah, I'm wondering the same, too. I'm trying to decide Accounting or Actuarial Science.....What if I can't even pass 1 or 2 by majoring in Actuarial Science? Then what can I do after gradation???

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