How can you figure out if the actuarial career is right for you?
One of the best ways to find out if you’ll like being an actuary is with an actuarial internship. In an internship, you’ll get some valuable hands-on experience and see for yourself what it’s like to work in the field.
The problem is, actuarial internships are competitive and it can be hard to get one when you’re first starting out. You’d need to have some exams passed already, plus great technical skills.
These are skills you probably won’t get until later on in your actuarial journey, when you’re 100% sure you want to be an actuary. Because of that, internships aren’t really a feasible way to figure out if you’d like actuarial work.
So, how do you decide if you’ll like being an actuary without an internship?
Do Actuarial Projects
Projects are a great way of getting exposure to actuarial work! Doing projects will give you exposure to the kind of work actuaries do all day, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good fit for you.
Actuaries can have tons of different specializations, so doing different projects that involve different types of work will help you get exposure to all those areas.
Projects will also help you to better understand the terminology and thought process that actuaries use to make decisions.
This hands-on experience will be valuable later on if you decide to go down the actuarial path!
You can even add these projects to your resume as something to talk about during interviews. Employers are always impressed when you have this type of experience under your belt!
The Actuary Accelerator Community (AAC) is a great place to get actuarial projects, and honestly, I’m not sure where else you can find something like this! If you’re interested in learning more about these projects and even more amazing resources to help you become a top candidate, go here!
But if doing these types of projects makes you want to smash your computer, it’s a good sign that the actuarial career isn’t a good fit for you!
Read Actuarial Articles
Reading articles about the actuarial field is a great way to get exposure to current hot topics and figure out if you’d be interested in actuarial work! If you enjoy articles like this, you’d probably enjoy day-to-day actuarial work.
One website that I find really interesting is TheActuaryMagazine.org. There are hundreds of articles on topics that actuaries really care about, including hot topics in the industry right now! Some fascinating things I’ve read about recently on that website include articles on insurance fraud, adopting an inclusive language, and agricultural insurance!
Another example is finding research articles published by actuarial societies. Here you can find recently published and trending research from actuaries at the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
If you’re a member of the AAC, we also have a terms and concepts library where you can go to learn a lot of the different terminology and concepts that actuaries deal with day-to-day!
If you find yourself falling asleep while reading these articles, maybe the actuarial path isn’t for you.
Go Through Exam Material
If you’ve looked into the actuarial career, then you’re probably familiar with the actuarial exam process. Actuaries need to pass these exams in order to become fully qualified!
The earlier exams involve a lot of theory and math, but the later ones involve a lot of actuarial and insurance concepts, especially looking at them from a higher level.
These later exams are a lot more similar to the day-to-day work actuaries do, so it’s worth looking into them!
Fortunately, many of the articles that are tested on later exams are publicly available online! By reading them you’ll get a good understanding of more hot industry topics, what type of work actuaries are doing, and what you’ll be studying day-to-day to pass the actuarial exams! You can find examples of exam material here and here. These syllabi can lead you to more articles and readings about the actuarial field.
Connect With Industry Professionals
It would be a huge mistake to get into the actuarial field without talking to anyone that works in it!
Think of it like buying a house without ever looking inside. You think the house looks nice from the outside, but the inside could be completely different from what you expected. That’s why you have to visit the open house and make sure the inside matches your expectations. The same goes for any career!
You want to make sure you know the actuarial career inside and out before you invest your time and money in it!
Interacting with people in the industry, getting all your questions answered, and getting a good sense of what they do day-to-day will help you understand if the career is right for you.
It’ll help you figure out what the actuarial career is really like, and how it might differ from your expectations.
You should also talk to people that have left the field.
People that have worked in the industry and then left have a unique perspective. They can give you insight into why people might think that a certain career is great for them, and why it might end up not actually being the case.
Those conversations will give you a lot of insight into possible downsides of the career that you might not have considered. It’ll make sure you know the full picture before deciding to go all in.
You’re probably wondering who you can ask about all of this. If you’re having trouble finding someone to discuss the actuarial career with, here are my suggestions!
For one, you could go on LinkedIn and search for people that work in the actuarial field. Some of them will be willing to maybe have a quick phone call or a coffee chat! This is a great opportunity for you to pick their brain and really get a sense of what it’s like working in the actuarial field.
If you’re having trouble finding someone you’re able to talk to, or if you just don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone like that, I totally understand where you’re coming from! If that’s the case, I’m happy to help. I offer 30-minute actuarial coaching sessions where I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the career!
Watch “Day in the Life” Videos
Actuaries don’t just do math and projects all day. A lot of their time is spent doing presentations, having meetings, and studying (and hopefully eating and sleeping)!
So if you want to get a sense of what it’s actually like to work as an actuary, watching “day in the life” videos or interviews with actuaries is a great way to understand that!
There are several “day in the life” videos on my channel for you to check out. Here’s just one example:
Or, if you’re a member of the AAC, we have lots of interviews with entry level actuaries in the Beginner Candidate Phase.
Actuaries work in a lot of different fields, so make sure you’re giving the career a fair chance and watch at least 10 of these videos. That way, you can get the full spectrum of opinions and career routes!
Doing all five of these things will give you the best sense of whether the actuarial career is right for you.
But what do you do after that?
Now that you have a better idea of what the actuarial career is like, including possible downsides, you can make an informed decision.
Even so, you might still be on the fence about if you should really become an actuary. You might feel like you’d LOVE the work, but wonder if you have what it takes. You might wonder if you’re smart enough or good enough at math to become an actuary.
Check out this post to learn more about that!
Basically, here’s what I recommend: If you think you’d love being an actuary, just start!
The skills you’ll learn as you start becoming an actuary are incredibly versatile and in-demand. Things like Excel and programming skills are useful in almost any career!
So, learning those skills won’t be a waste of time, no matter what. If you get partway in and decide it isn’t for you, you’ll only be a better candidate for the next career you choose!
It’s always scary to start something new. But after the research you’ve done, you have a pretty good idea of what the actuarial career is like. If you still feel excited about it, you can feel confident that it’s a good career for you.
If that’s you, there’s nothing stopping you from going all in!
If you’re ready to take the first step into your actuarial journey and want some help getting started, I highly recommend the Actuary Accelerator Community (AAC).
The AAC is packed with resources including Excel training and projects, programming classes, and a Resume Master Course to help you become a top candidate for actuarial jobs. Plus tons more!
It’s your step-by-step guide to becoming an actuary and getting hired fast! Click here to learn more about the AAC and join the waitlist.