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Career change from software

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  • Career change from software

    I have a M.A. in mathematics, but I've been working as a software engineer for the last six years. I miss actually using mathematics (most of my programming projects are pretty mundane and math-free), and I had considered becoming an actuary from the beginning.

    At the moment, I have passed SOA exams 1 and 2, for which I studied in my spare time. I would like to work as an actuary; there are at least two problems associated with this:

    1. I live in San Diego (California, of course) and do not plan to relocate soon. According to an occupational survey I found, there are only about 100 actuaries in the county, and very few publicly listed openings anywhere. If anyone who reads these posts is an actuary working in San Diego, I would be interested in an informational interview (will buy lunch/dinner, your choice of restaurant), because I have not met any yet.

    2. Changing careers would involve a salary cut of 40% to 50%, based on data I've seen. Of course, my salary will likely exceed my current compensation after I accrue the same level of experience in my new career that I have gained in my current one, but the sudden drop is not encouraging. I had hoped to find some sort of "intermediate" position, possibly using some of my current experience in addition to my limited actuarial knowledge. If anyone in this forum has made the transition from another high-paying profession (especially a programming-related one), I would be very interested in how it went and any advice you might have.

  • #2
    I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Most actuaries don't use that much math on the job. The ones using the most math are the ones in research. Most actuaries are spreadsheet monkeys.
    Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


    • #3
      well, there's a lot of math in the exams.

      hahah, so the code monkey wants to be an excel monkey?


      • #4
        Originally posted by aced
        well, there's a lot of math in the exams.

        hahah, so the code monkey wants to be an excel monkey?
        Yes, I would still be interested even if it merely involved being a different species of monkey. At least they are monkeys with a larger E($) (after a few years, at least), and there's a chance to advance to more of a lead ape position 8-]. I would still like to find people who have switched careers, and/or any actuaries at all working in (near?) San Diego.


        • #5
          You might try emailing people on the SOA directory in the San Diego area. Odds are that they won't reply, but if you email enough, someone will probably be generous enough to answer your questions.
          Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.


          • #6
            Go For It!

            Hi pherrero

            I too am changing career from software development. The best way to go I feel is the "all or nothing" approach. I went contracting for 2 years and start an M.Sc in Actuarial Science in 3 weeks in Glasgow - maybe there is a university that does it near you.

            Doing it full time you can get 7 exams in 7 months - but will need to aim for 70%+ to be sure of getting an exemption. After sitting the first 3 exams you will know whether you can cut it. If so get the other 4 exams, if not, then back to software.

            Think back to school and beyond - do you know any actuaries or know anyone that has an actuary as a friend...? - if so as I did take them to lunch and ask about the profession and keep in touch. I bumped into an old school friend who told me that if I do get the exams then I'm almost guaranteed a job.

            Look at the positives....
            1. You have I.T., programming and excel skills already
            2. It's a chance to work at something new and interesting
            3. It's more respected than I.T!
            4. Your starting salary may be nearly the same as your current salary
            5. It will go up




            • #7
              Forgot to say.....

              My understanding is that all actuaries worldwide sit the same exams. The past 10 years exams can be found in the following website:


              I have a B.Sc in Maths / Stats which I gained 9 years ago. The M.Sc. in Actuarial Science takes 1 year and the PgDip takes 7 months (basically it's all the exams from the core technical subjects except business reporting i.e 7). I don't know what your course fees are over in the US but here in blighty it's £3085 to do the course. The class size is 11! I only want the exemptions so will exit after 7/8 months. If you can fund this then maybe the salary drop will not be an issue

              Remember that if you had to go back to I.T. you will still have the skills. You may have to relocate for a couple of years to get the opening you want. I have never heard of anyone going from I.T to Business Analysis in an organisation - the employer needs to find someone to fill your position and then find the position for you. It's much easier to make the break and do it full time if you can - it's much easier to start half way up a mountain than at the very bottom.

              Good Luck


              • #8
                the less competition factor

                Hey There

                if there are'nt many actuaries in your county, this can be a good thing, because it also means less competition.

                If you go to places where there are lot of acturies, the employers will expect you to pass more than 2 exams, however, if there arent a lot of actuaries in you area, then 2 exams is plenty.

                I'm not sure about your county in San Diego , but I live in a small city in canada where a lot of graduates end up leaving the city, and pursuing careers elsewhere. If your county has the same problem then 'not willing to relocate' could be a very good thing, because the company can count on you to stay with them.

                and I do agree,If you really want to be an actuary putting both feet forward is the best way to go for it.

                good luck iwth the hunt