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Why You Shouldn’t Get a M.S. in Actuarial Science
If you’re serious about getting an actuarial job, you may be considering grad school as a way to make yourself more competitive in the job market.
Will getting your Master’s help in landing a job as an actuary?
It’s unlikely that getting a Master’s degree in actuarial science will have a significant impact on your ability to get a job as an actuary. However, it may help you pass actuarial exams quicker.
But this is just my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Why a Master’s Degree Won’t Help
A few of the most important things that an actuarial employer will look at when they’re reviewing your entry-level resume are:
- The number of actuarial exams you’ve passed
- Your GPA
- Any related internship experience
- Your technical skills
If you have 2-3 actuarial exams passed, a undergrad GPA above 3.00, 1-2 actuarial internships, and decent technical skills (ie. Excel) then you’re likely a very good candidate for an actuarial job.
There’s no need to get a Master’s degree, because you’re already in good shape to get a job.
But what if that isn’t the case for you?
Of those things I mentioned above, the only one that you can’t change in the future is your GPA. You can pass more exams, you can get an internship, and you can improve your technical skills.
The one time that grad school may help you is to “override” a low GPA, but that means that you’d have to be fairly confident that you can actually do quite well in your Master’s degree courses. (Better than you did in your undergrad courses).
But, even with a low GPA, I believe your time and money would be better spent passing more exams and working in actuarial (or related) internship positions than going to grad school.
Note: I do want to reiterate that this is my opinion and others may feel differently. You should do further research to be assured that you’re making the right decision for yourself.
A Master’s Degree May Speed Up Exam Progress
If you have absolutely no prior education in calculus, probability and/or finance, then a Master’s degree may be beneficial in helping you to learn those concepts.
But there are tons of places that you can learn these concepts online for free (Khan Academy, YouTube, SkillShare), without any strict timelines and unnecessary assignments, midterms and finals.
So by getting a Master’s degree you may ultimately be able to get through your exams faster, but the extra time spent on the degree itself offsets the time gained.
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Actuarial Science is a Very Specialized Degree
One more reason you may reconsider your choice to go to grad school for actuarial science is because it is so specialized.
An actuarial science degree isn’t very highly valued outside of actuarial work. In fact, many employers don’t even know what it is, or only partially understand it.
This doesn’t mean that the education that you would receive isn’t valuable or useful though. Non-actuarial employers just won’t necessarily have a good understanding of what you learned.
Why does this matter?
It matters because a career as an actuary isn’t guaranteed to work out.
You may have a difficult time finding a job. Obviously, this is an important thing to consider before starting. I recently wrote this post about the entry-level actuarial job market.
Or maybe you’ll find out that you don’t like actuarial work as much as you thought you did, or that the actuarial exams require more effort than you’re willing to put in.
Because of this, it may be a better decision to get a Master’s degree in statistics, economics, or finance may be more valuable outside of the actuarial world. Actuarial employers will consider this to be nearly as good as a M.S. in Actuarial Science (that is, if they take your graduate degree into consideration at all).
Is a Master’s in actuarial science worth it? A Master’s degree in actuarial science may make you slightly more qualified for actuarial jobs and may help you get through the exams a few months sooner. Personally I don’t think it’s worth it.
How long does it take to get a M.S in actuarial science? Most actuarial science Master’s degree programs are 1-2 years long. University of Waterloo offers a one year actuarial science Master’s degree program.
Should I go to grad school for actuarial science or get a job? Looking for an actuarial job or internship and (at the same time) improving your actuarial profile will be a much better use of your time then getting a M.S. in actuarial science.
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