What does it mean to have a career in actuarial science? Year after year career surveys report that being an actuary is one of the highest rated jobs in America. In fact, when rated for job security, employment outlook, pay level, work setting and stress, the job of actuary outshines virtually all other professions. Why then do so few know about it? We asked Bill Partridge, an actuary with 30 years experience who is currently teaching actuarial science courses in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Wright State. His answers may surprise you.
One reason might be that it is a relatively small profession (~25,000 actuaries in the U.S. vs, say, ~1,250,000 accountants). Another reason might be that becoming an accredited actuary (in one of two professional actuarial organizations) requires a combination of excellent math skills, a good understanding of economics, finance and business together with a willingness to spend considerable personal time studying for a series of professional exams. However, the financial rewards are substantial, and most actuaries will earn 6 figures with 5 -10 years of experience.
In broad terms actuaries are professionals who are skilled in quantitative risk assessment and analysis. Actuaries analyze data associated with past events (i.e., hurricanes, auto accidents, product failures, death, disability, public and private pension system insolvencies, earthquakes, etc.) to help access the likelihood of similar events in the future. They are trained to help organizations and governments develop strategies to avoid or delay the occurrence of such events or minimize the financial impact of such events when they do occur. Actuaries have jobs at insurance companies, health care companies, consulting firms, state, local and Federal governments, many large corporations and other risk-adverse entities.
At Wright State University, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has embarked on a program to provide a pathway for those students interested in actuarial science to achieve a degree that will allow them to launch a career as an actuary. Today, a student who majors in Statistics may graduate from WSU with a B.S. degree in Statistics with an Actuarial Science Concentration.
Students can now take courses that will give them the foundation of knowledge they need to pass two of the preliminary exams offered by the Society of Actuaries: Exam FM (Financial Mathematics) and Exam P (Probability) while they are still attending WSU. Those courses are Theory of Interest (MTH 3120) and, following completion of STT 3600, a Statistics seminar course (STT 3960) to focus on working problems of the type encountered on Exam P.
In addition, Wright State offers courses that will help students satisfy a significant number of other educational requirements to obtain professional actuarial credentials: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Financial Management I and II, all taught by faculty at the Raj Soin College of Business, and Applied Time Series (STT 4110) and Statistical Methods (STT 4660), these two courses taught within the Mathematics and Statistics Department.
Theory of Interest (MTH 3120) was first taught at WSU in the Spring of 2017. The Exam P (STT 3960) seminar course was taught for the first time Fall of 2017. Already, some of our students are preparing for and taking either Exam FM or Exam P. If you have an interest in considering this exciting field contact either Bill Partridge (William.Partridge@wright.edu ) an actuary with 30 years in the profession, who is teaching both MTH 3120 and STT 3960 or Professor Shuxia Sun (Shuxia.Sun@wright.edu) who is the Faculty Advisor to students pursuing a B.S. degree in Statistics with an Actuarial Science Concentration.