Friday, June 15, 2012

Actuarial : Actuarial Science, Actuary & Me

Actuarial Science? What are actuarial science and actuary? Are they the same things? According to Wikipedia, Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries. An actuary is a business professional who deals with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty. Actuaries have a deep understanding of financial security systems, their reasons for being, their complexity, their mathematics, and the way they work.

You can be a genius in mathematics but not must in actuarial science. Actuarial science is NOT ALL about mathematics, but involving lots of statistics, modelling, finance, economics, accounting and so on. So, even when you don't end up as an actuary, you will still have other career options such as working in risk management, investment, etc. Hence, if you love mathematics, you will love pure mathematics. If you love applying mathematics (in business or economics), you will love actuarial science.

Actuarial science DOES NOT guarantee a HIGHLY paid job. Only qualified Actuary get paid in millions depend on the need in different countries. Fresh actuarial science graduate does not make you different from any other graduates at all. And, there are MANY Malaysians currently studying actuarial science. (JPA scholars, Bank Negara scholars, SC scholars, Khazanah scholars, UKM, UM, UiTM, USIM, UTAR, INTI, Taylor, HELP)

It's easy to get a bachelor's degree in actuarial science. But it's not easy to be an actuary. Undoubtedly, the route becoming an actuary is a very tough. If not, millions of people will become actuaries and the job prospect for actuaries will be really bad. My advice is thinking thrice before you make a decision to get into the program, don't jump into it for the wrong reason, i.e. money. I know that some actuarial majors brag about actuaries getting paid millions, including me! Yes, it is true but take note that you only get paid well if you're good in term of many things, such as soft skills.

Become an actuary, you must not have the actuarial science degree. You can become an actuary by taking any bachelors degree, but it is better to take something related degree, like mathematics, statistics, economics, finance, etc. The most important is the professional exams. But, most people who take actuarial science fail to become a qualified actuary.

What are the criteria to become an actuary? According to Be An Actuary website, you must have an excellent business sense with a knowledge of finance, accounting, and economics, keen analytical, project management, and problem solving skills, specialized math knowledge, strong computer skills, and solid written and oral communication skills. In addition, you must enjoy learning, like to solve complicated problems, enjoy writing and talking to people, can work effectively alone or as part of a team, are interested in a variety of historical, social, legislative, and political issues, and are self-motivated achievers.

After a short briefing of actuarial science and actuary, let's talk about Why Actuary? If I say I take this course not because the highly competitive salary, then you will definitely not believe me! To be honest, yes, the MAJOR reason I choose actuary as my career is because FINANCIAL FREEDOM (just a major reason, there are some minor reasons). Then, I thought that I have a moderate amount of logical, mathematical, and analytical ability. Since I do not want to teach, being more practical than abstract, mathematically, I thought that being an actuary would be all right. And as a not-so-bad student, I have no other choices! Because there is a myth in Malaysia: Best student always take Medicine, Engineering or Actuarial Science. Finally, I choose actuary as my career due to the myth.

If you are really interested in Actuarial Science, what I think is that getting a local degree or overseas degree is just the same. The most important is the professional examination. There are many ways to pursue actuarial science degree, since I am studying in local university, I just talk about the local one (Malaysia). For SPM students, you can try to get the scholarship, such as JPA/MARA (I think it will become easier to get this scholarship after the 308! ), Bank Negara, Khazanah, SC, Great Eastern and so on. If you didn't get it, you can try to get into Asasi UiTM (for Bumiputera only!), Matriculation, STPM or Private College/University, like INTI, Taylor, HELP ).

After Matriculation or STPM, with CGPA 4.00, you may do actuarial science degree locally at UKM, UM, USIM, UiTM. For non-Bumi, you just can gain the admission into UM or UKM only. One more option is UNITAR.

Well, for those who aspires to become an actuary but failed to get admission to the course, should not give up but instead go into courses like Statistics or Mathematics and start taking actuarial professional examinations.

The path to become an actuary involves going through a well-structured education plan. This involves university-level education and professional examinations, as well as other requirements. You should prepare and start your professional examinations since the first year you get into to University or College ( or even STPM ). For the professional examinations, you have to think about what are the options of societies or institutes.

For me, like my most other seniors, choosing Society of Actuaries (SOA). But now, I am still just a second-year, first-semester actuarial student. The road is still very long. I hope can finish 5 papers before my graduation. Here we go!

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