What the main stream channels won't tell you
What level of education is needed to become an actuary? You don’t necessarily need an Actuarial Science degree in order to get into the actuarial profession. Most of those Actuarial Science courses are basically exams preparation courses for preliminary exams. It’s a general understanding that most of the preliminary exams can be self-taught, so if you are already in a non-actuarial degree program, you don’t need to switch majors and can just take exams in your spare time.
The benefits of getting an actuarial science degree are quite significant if you are determined to be an actuary. You can make friends who can help you along the way in school and in your career. You can reach out for professors and classmates for help on exams and career search if needed. Actuarial student association generally would organize career development workshops such as resume review and mock interviews, arrange networking events with alumni and employers, and possibly bring in speakers to help you understand more about the professions. Some college professors actually are still involved in the actuarial industry, so it is possible that they will have exclusive job openings just for their students. If you do your research, you would know which Actuarial Science program fits your goals.
On the other hand, you may wonder are there any alternatives to joining actuarial science program since you can take exams on your own and you can network through other means. The answer is yes. With all the media hype, many students become interested in the actuarial profession, so you can imagine it’s really competitive to get an entry-level job. You need to differentiate yourself by doing something different. You can pass more exams, understand the industry better by reading more about the field, or drill on your technical skills. Actuary professionals become more and more rely on using computer programs and statistical models to solve day-to-day problems. It would be beneficial if you have a more technical degree that provides you a solid background on computer programming languages or statistical modeling skills. Main stream actuarial channel rarely emphasize the importance of the technical background needed to progress in your career.
If you are not in an actuarial science program or do not have any technical background, I recommend you to start drilling on your technical skills. My goal is to provide more insights of the field that you may not be able to find elsewhere. I hope you find this article helpful!