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What if I'm more interested in research and software development?

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  • What if I'm more interested in research and software development?

    The two primary things I like doing are research in probability/statistics, and software development. After graduating with a applied math bachelors degree I've worked various jobs in both areas for 7-8 years, and am now doing statistical genetics, which combines both nicely. My research interests like extreme value theory and decision theory coincide with actuarial science, and thus I've recently become interested in the field, especially for property/casualty. I have heavy math/stat and moderate financial math background, and I can probably pass the 'P' and 'FM' tests today. So, questions:
    1. How much 'original' modelling and research does a typical P/C actuary do? Are there cookie cutter models you have to use b/c of management/regulations?
    2. Is there such a thing as an 'actuarial software engineer'? Or is access and excel enough?
    3. Are there other paths to become an actuary besides the exams, like more theoretical masters programs?

  • #2
    1. Sometimes, you're tweaking and adapting existing models to fit your needs. "Cookie cutter" models are typically found in reserving and other areas where data has to be prepared and distributed to regulators and industry groups in a standard format. Certainly, it's important to know how someone else's model works, to be able to debug it if needed, and to adapt it when required.

    2. The better concept here might be "actuarial modeling" and some companies have units dedicated to just that. Much of the model building involves Excel; depending on the setting, SAS and Access may get used but that's largely to get data into the format(s) needed for the Excel model.

    3. If you want to be a credentialed actuary, it's exams or bust.
    "You better get to living, because dying's a pain in the ***." - Frank Sinatra - where I talk about the Blues and the NHL.