A Guide to Actuary Schools & Degree Programs
In the current economy, when financial services are becoming more and more advanced and refined, the need for actuaries is already big and on the rise. The projected job growth for this profession is estimated at 26%, which is quite a lot compared to the average for other professions, and since the salary is also pretty rewarding, becoming an actuary is becoming more and more popular. Therefore, we’ve put together this list of actuary schools and degrees for actuarial science, so you can then choose the best way to go if getting an actuary degree is on your mind. In order to become an actuary, one would first need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in actuary science. This is all you need to know about the top actuary schools and degrees.
Choosing an Actuary School
First of all, what is actuarial science? This discipline is a branch of advanced financial analysis, which applies statistical methods to financial data in order to assess the risk of various fields such as insurance, finance or other industries. The training for this field isn’t complete once you graduate from an actuary school, and since the required levels of analysis is quite sophisticated, we could say that the professional training continues more or less throughout the entire career of an actuary. It’s true that this can be said of almost any profession, but in the case of acturial science, it’s even more so.
The first mandatory step to becoming an actuary is graduating from a Bachelor’s degree in actuary science from one of the accredited actuarial science schools. Sometimes a statistical degree can also work as a basis for this profession. Then, some companies or potential employers may require their applicants to also complete an advanced degree or specialization, post-Bachelor degree, for an applied vision for the job. The best schools for actuarial science offer such specialization options among their range of programs and degrees.
Licensing and Certification
Completing an accredited Bachelor’s program in the actuary science field at any of the federally-approved colleges which offer such programs is the first step in becoming certified. Then, you need to pass a series of state exams in order to receive your license as an actuary. Whatever extra study program you complete afterwards as extra specialization must also be accredited in order to be recognized by employers, of course, but it does not impact your already obtained actuary license (which you receive via graduation and passing a series of certification exams immediately after graduation).
Actuary Schools and Degrees Overview
So, how to find the right actuary school for you and what will you be learning there? Well, first we should warn you that completing one of these programs is no easy feat: an actuary education needs to be thorough and well-rounded, ranging from topics of finance, calculus, mathematics, computers, business and more. Moreover, the need for actuary experts is expanding beyond the initial scope of the insurance industry and well into several other fields as well, since all business and industries need better risk assessment. Since the actuary career is ranked among the most lucrative and popular in the country at the current time, the competition for a place in one of the best schools for actuarial science and the demands of the courses are also quite high.
This is what a range of courses for this field looks like in most actuarial science schools:
- Computer science
- Business courses (like marketing and marketing models, for example)
- Communication courses (with a penchant for business communication, business writing etc.)
- Literature, history, philosophy, political science, and other liberal arts courses
- Three semesters of calculus
- One semester of linear algebra
- Two semesters of statistics and calculus-based probability classes
- Actuary science courses, varying upon the college’s specifics and teaching corpus.
Completing all of these and passing your state exams successfully will get you licensed as an actuary. Next, let’s take a look at the list of the currently best rated schools and colleges in the country who offer up actuary science degrees and courses:
- Columbia University (NYC)
- University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia)
- University of California (Los Angeles)
- Boston University (Boston, Massachusetts)
Our advice would be to try to obtain an advanced degree in a related field after you graduate from the mandatory actuary science Bachelor’s from one of the top actuarial science schools (either the top 5 presented above or others you can find online). Such a recommended further education path could be an MBA (Master of Business Administration), or a Computer Science Master with a focus on statistics software, and so on. You can also choose the best way to go after prospecting the potential jobs you could land, to see what your future employers may ask for. Most probably, you will find out more about these things in college, while still studying for your actuary degree.