Actuarial Jobs For Dummies
June 8, 2008 4:42 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with a specialization in Actuarial Science. She has been searching for a job/internship for the past year and no one will give her anything more than a phone interview. She is a very smart person and graduated with above a 3.6. She is very talented and can do just about anything that gets thrown at her, however she has tried to take the first actuary test 3 times and is studying for number 4. Since almost all the companies she has applied to want one test passed she has been SOL. She has applied for a number of analyst type jobs which have all turned her down also. She has been getting really frustrated and I don't know what to tell her anymore. Is there any other jobs that she should be looking into that would help give her work experience at least until she can pass the first actuarial test?
posted by dyno04 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Ms. Vegetable is an actuary:

- Is she trying to pass P/1 or FM/2? FM/2 tends to be a bit easier, and companies really don't care which one you pass first.
- Does she have a recruiter on her side? First one that comes to mind is dwsimpson. Be aware, though, that they don't always look out for jobs that really match you. But they can potentially be useful for contacts.
- Underwriting or research may be departments (in insurance companies, anyway) that she would want to look at.
- VEE's - if she got any credit for them in school, make sure that her resume shows this. While not quite an exam, they are annoying and required to get letters.
- If she's looking at consulting firms (Mercer comes to mind), I know there are other "analyst" type positions that are more calculation-based and do not require exams; that may be a good first foot in the door job.
- Does she have friends at insurance companies or consulting firms? They may be a huge asset in getting an in-person interview.
- Internships. While she is currently out of internship-hiring season (which is in the fall), their exam qualifications tend not to be as strict. For most companies, they are also the source of 90%+ of their full-time hires. Can she use her alma mater for job fairs and things like that? Face time is important.
- Reinsurance brokers, perhaps. I'm not sure of their requirements.
- Places that create and test models actuaries use - like the hurricane modelers. Or the corporate-enterprise-wide risk modelers.
- Statistics. Can she get a job in statistics somewhere in the meantime?
- Consulting firms for job titles like "business analyst".

This may sound like a bit of a jumble, but hey, I'm an actuary. :-P

Exams are hard. There are 9 of them on the P&C side. They take over your life. The best thing YOU can do is be supportive of her when she needs to study.

Good luck!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:20 PM on June 8, 2008 [5 favorites]

(Still Ms. Vegetable):

FWIW, I did take a year between college and starting a job as an actuary to teach. While I did not particularly enjoy it, it did pay for rent and groceries, and those "soft" skills of leadership and managerial style paid off in interviews. Several of my coworkers did the same thing - they taught until they passed an exam, and then immediately got hired as an actuary and quit teaching. If she chooses this route: private schools are easier to get hired at, the internship/job hunt season for actuaries will start during the school year, and it might be worth it to be comfortable breaking a contract.

But, again - I did not particularly enjoy it. My current position is much better. Study hard!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:34 PM on June 8, 2008

I was an actuary. I don't think it matters a ton what your fiancee does in the next year or so. Would be good to work in some sort of finance / accounting related industry, but the most important thing is to pass some exams. The first (P) at the very minimum, the second (FM) and third (C) if possible. Getting the exams over with before starting work will also make her life (and yours) much easier because, having been through the process, it ain't fun working and studying at the same time.

And let me warn you that she will have virtually no life until she gets her FSA (5 - 8 years from now). She needs to be very good at time management if she is going to have any time left over to spend with her husband.

Also note that passing exams is a special skill that requires just practice, practice, practice. Download all the sample exams off the SOA website and do them over and over and over again. If that's not enough, then buy more practice material from companies like BPP.
posted by randomstriker at 9:05 PM on June 8, 2008

Oh wait, I think M is #3. can look it all up on the SOA site.
posted by randomstriker at 9:06 PM on June 8, 2008

I'm not sure where you guys live, but I thought there were tons of positions for actuaries. I know the government recruits them for their Federal Career Internship program and your fiancee sounds perfect for that.
posted by onepapertiger at 9:33 AM on June 9, 2008

it will be really hard for her to find an entry level position without passing the first exam. I am an actuarial recruiter.
posted by Soulbee at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2008

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