Actuarial exams - would they be a waste if one decides not to become an actuary?

I'm in an economics honours program (minoring in math) and I'm considering switching over to actuarial science. I'm not 100% dead set on becoming an actuary at the moment (perhaps looking more toward becoming a quant or in a different path going into consulting/investment banking instead), so I'm wondering about the actuarial exams and if they would be useful at all in the other career paths that I've listed.
I've also heard a BSc in Actuarial Science is only good for becoming an actuary and limits the likelihood of getting other jobs, so should I just stick to econ prior to grad school? Thanks so much for any advice

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Comments (3)

Jun 15, 2015 - 11:13am

I don't know where you are located. In the United States, getting an entry job in the actuarial profession is about passing one or two (or three) preliminary exams and getting an internship that converts to a full-time job. A specialized actuarial science degree is great but not required, it only helps you pass preliminary exams because the curriculum covers exam topics. I don't think having an actuarial science degree necessarily limits chance of getting other jobs, if you tell the story right, i don't see why can't you get a job in another sector because you will have a pretty well-rounded skill set.

Unfortunately, outside the insurance and actuarial consulting industry, the exams only look great on paper and people just know you are very dedicated to passing these extremely difficult exams. Actuaries don't really use most of the tested mathematics on the job and most of them are just using spreadsheets to solve real business problems (in reality it's sufficient enough). I do notice a lot of students wonder about how actuarial exams can be leveraged for a career in quantitative finance. The harsh reality is that they require different skill sets and quant is more programming than math really.

Another issue is that actuaries' salary, in the beginning of your career, ties somewhat with how many exams you have passed, so if down the line you want to change career path, you might be too expensive to be hired at entry level in a new industry and your desire to change career becomes very difficult.

Jun 15, 2015 - 10:31pm

I'm in Canada studying at Simon Fraser University (probably never heard of it if you're from the States). Getting an actuarial job is nearly identical here (most actuaries have an ASA credential as well as one with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries). I guess I best make the decision now rather than go through the process of the exams and regret it later. Thanks for the advice.

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