If you are considering pursuing a career as an Actuary, you should first
to find out exactly what an Actuary does. If that sounds good to you,
keep reading to find out how to make it happen!
Before the Exams
There are a few things you can do before you even take the first exam to
make yourself a more desirable candidate for an Actuary position.
a computer programming course. Actuarial work often uses SAS or VBA,
programming experience is a huge boost to your employ-ability.
Excel. Actuaries use Excel regularly and the more you know before
you start the better.
your ability to communicate. Give talks, participate in clubs, or
seek other experiences that will improve your communication and
some extracurricular activities to put on your resume, employers
want to know that you will be able to work while studying for future
exams. Show them that you can manage extra things in your life.
see if any friends or family have connections to companies that hire
The preliminary exams are an important step to becoming an actuary. Plan
to pass at least one exam before you graduate, many firms won't
consider a candidate that has not passed any exams. Passing two is a
very reasonable goal. Here is some information on the the first two
exams: the Probability Exam (SOA Exam P/ CAS Exam 1) and the
Financial Mathematics Exam (SOA Exam FM/ CAS Exam 2). Keep in mind
these first two exams do not have to be taken in order and they have
no overlapping material whatsoever.
461/561, 462/562 Introduction to Mathematical Methods of Statistics
I, II covers a significant portion of the material on Exam P/1,
but it will not fully prepare you. So after taking this course you'll need to get hold of the exam
syllabus and use it to systematically study for the exam by yourself.
Materials: Several textbooks are suggested on the exam syllabus. A
First Course in Probability by Ross contains enough material to
fully prepare you for the exam. The eighth edition is listed among
suggested texts, but the seventh edition is perfectly adequate.
Beware of some study manuals and practice exams. Here
is the website for a course designed to prepare for the first exam,
it includes practice problems with worked out solutions. Be careful,
many sources available are poorly written and contain misleading
mistakes. Also, some sources are outdated, if a guide has questions
from past exams check to make sure those were recent exams.
Among the allowed calculators the TI-30X is one of the most user
friendly models. Unlike the others listed, it has a two-line display
that can save you from making unnecessary mistakes. It also happens
to be the most inexpensive.
practice exams using an approved calculator. It is surprising how
difficult it feels to use an different calculator, and you don’t
want this slowing you down during the actual exam.
sure you know how to clear the memory on your calculator. You will
be asked to do so at the testing center. In addition, if you prefer
to use your calculator with non-standard settings, be sure you can
change these back after resetting without the use of the
user-manual, as it is not allowed in the testing center.
Financial Mathematics Exam
Materials: The ASM
Study Manual for
the FM/2 Exam is extremely thorough and covers all topics on the
exam. It contains hundreds of practice problems (many from past
exams) as well as five full-length practice exams.
BA II Plus is a financial calculator has all of the capabilities
needed for the FM/2 exam, but it has an inferior display. The screen
does not display operations entered and by default does not follow
order of operations. It will save you time for many financial
calculations, but you may wish to use the TI-30X, which has a
two-line display and superior algebraic capabilities, for other
problems. You can bring two calculators to the exam.
can start looking at any time, but your search should start to get
serious after you pass your first exam.
your resume and cover letter: The Career
Center at the University of Oregon offers a
lot of help in this area. You can make an appointment in advance, or
they have drop-in hours, to meet one on one with a counselor to help
you write the best resume for your skill set. Also, the Career
Center holds fairs occasionally. If you have an interview at the
fair the interviewer will give some feedback to the Career Center
that you can go over with one of the counselors.
to look: The SOA keeps a directory of firms that offer internships
and entry-level actuarial positions, which can be found here.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Many entry-level positions are
only listed on the individual company's website. Even if a company
doesn't have a position listed, don't be afraid to cold email any
company that employs actuaries. Also, don't forget to ask everyone
you know if they know anyone that could help you get an interview.
An internship is a great way to start your career. Many job postings
for entry level actuary positions express a preference for
candidates that have completed an internship. An internship can help
you make sure that actuarial work is right for you, and you might be
more comfortable asking a lot of questions as an intern. Most
importantly an internship can lead to a full time position. If you
are looking to stay local Pacific
Source has offered summer internships in the past.
an Actuary: Probably the most complete site about actuaries
currently on the internet. You can find information about exams,
jobs, and current news about actuaries.
of Actuaries: This is where you register for your exams and can
search for job openings.
Actuarial Society: Another place to search for jobs.