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Best Actuarial Science Degrees in 2021

September 27, 2021 | Staff Writers

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There are many career opportunities in the business world. If you plan to enter this field, you should analyze the courses you enroll in keenly. Most of the courses you might study for business careers are closely related. However, they will place you on completely different career paths when it comes to job prospects. After completing your high school diploma, you should consult career experts on the best business fields to pursue. The experience of career counselors will help you select a profitable profession that suits you. Being in a career that matches your personality makes your work life enjoyable.

One of the most lucrative careers in business is actuarial science. Having a degree in actuarial science places you on the path to be an actuary. Actuaries have a wide range of job opportunities, with work cutting across all areas dealing in profitable and non-profitable businesses. Before you become an actuary, you must sit for several tests. These include school tests in the degree program or professional exams for licensing purposes. The actuarial profession requires a lot of mathematical knowledge, implying that you must be proficient in math to practice as an actuary. Other disciplines are also essential depending on the institution you apply to. For further understanding of actuarial science careers and degree programs, we explore the following in this article:

  1. What actuarial science is and why it matters
  2. What you can do with an actuarial science degree
  3. How to choose an actuarial science degree program
  4. Best actuarial science programs

What Actuarial Science Is and Why It Matters

Actuarial science is one of the most in-demand financial careers in the world. It involves applying mathematics, probability, and financial theories to solve real-world business problems, including the unforeseen effects of financial events. Actuaries help to predict the future of business finances in cases where future payments are involved. For this reason, they mostly practice in insurance firms. Actuaries also play an important role in determining the future of finances in investment companies.

For various reasons, people tend to confuse statisticians with actuaries. Although the two professions are related, several differences tell them apart. These include:

  • Job description- The main difference between actuarial science and statistics is in the workplace. Job descriptions actuaries are mainly insurance and future related. They apply their knowledge to predict potential occurrences in the financial status of organizations they work for. Actuaries analyze data related to the financial status and risks involved in the company’s operations. These could be data about potential accidents and returns on investment in insurance firms.

On the other hand, statisticians analyze all forms of data to develop information for business operations. Other than analyzing, statisticians are also responsible for data collection and processing for analysis. In an insurance firm, statisticians make practical recommendations on changes to be made on products and services offered. Actuaries, on the other hand, recommend insurance rates and operation models that minimize risk.

  • The content learned during studies- The content you learn while studying for an actuarial science and statistics degree varies from one another. Although the two courses share some concepts, primary subjects are usually different. These include operational practices. The licensing exams after completing your degree program are also different. The bodies tasked with testing the eligibility of candidates for the licensing process are different.

Although actuarial science and statistics are two distinct areas, several features apply to both careers. These include the entry grades and key subjects required for admission into degree programs. Both degree programs require high grades in mathematics and analytical thinking capabilities. There are many benefits of pursuing a career in actuarial science. These benefits apply to you as an individual and your career life. They include:

  • Higher employment opportunities– Actuarial science places you in a position to work in many industries. The leading employers for actuaries are insurance companies. However, you can also work in investment companies to help predict future trends in certain markets. Investment banking is one of the top opportunities for actuaries worldwide, especially as more and more start-ups are formed and seek funding from banks. Actuaries are needed to determine the level of risk involved when making investments into certain business ideas. Being employed immediately after graduation guarantees good returns on investment in education. Advancing your studies to higher degrees in actuarial science increases your chances of being promoted to managerial positions. As a result, you get higher salaries and exposure to networking opportunities within the industry.
  • Critical thinking – Actuarial science degree programs involve a lot of statistics and mathematics. Going through these courses during your study period sharpens your mind. As a result, you develop analytical thinking and real-life problem-solving skills. These skills are important for your future as an employee or independent business person. You will be in a position to make calculated decisions for the survival of your business.
  • Networking opportunities – While at school, you get exposed to a variety of people. These include students, tutors, and professionals already performing in the actuarial science field. Interacting and networking with people during your study allows you to learn different concepts from various perspectives. Interacting with fellow students will enable you to identify and explore ideas useful for growth. Exploring networking opportunities helps you create meaningful relationships with potential future employers. With such connections, you won’t have a hard time securing employment after school.

There are many other benefits of pursuing actuarial science as a career, including personal satisfaction and respect from peers. Being an actuarial science major out of passion leads to personal fulfillment. In such cases, you will enjoy your work life and even find it easy to advance your studies to higher degrees. Problem-solving skills make you an important member of society. Your involvement in decision-making processes within the community makes you respectable. How much you benefit from an actuarial science degree depends on your personality. If you are determined, you will likely benefit more and grow faster through ranks at your place of work.

What You Can Do with An Actuarial Science Degree

Finding a job after graduating is one of the most fulfilling things you can experience as an actuarial degree holder. There are many job opportunities for actuary degree holders, depending on the degree level one holds. For undergraduate actuarial science degree holders, here are some of the jobs you can do.

  • Insurance actuarial analyst- As stated earlier, the insurance industry forms the largest percentage of employers of actuarial science graduates. With a degree in actuarial science, you will apply your statistical skills to design and price the policies that insurance companies offer their customers. To achieve this, you will consider various factors such as a client’s background and occupation. This work implies that you must be proficient in statistics and probability to tell how likely a risk one is insured against is likely to occur.
  • Business analyst- A degree in actuarial science allows you to work as a business analyst. Such positions are available in many organizations irrespective of their operations. In most cases, business analysts work in profit-oriented organizations. However, non-profit organizations also need business analysts to tell the viability of certain projects. As a business analyst, your role will be examining organization operations and structures and giving recommendations to help them achieve their goals. Business analysts are essential in the policymaking process of organizations. Using your bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, you apply your knowledge and skills to predict future market dynamics for certain products.
  • Underwriter-  Underwriters are an actuarial career option. In this role, an actuarial science student works as an insurance expert, determining the viability and financial risk of certain policies. As an underwriter, you determine whether applications for insurance coverage by clients are acceptable or not. You will do this by analyzing critical factors about the policyholder and the risks involved. After analyzing the risk and the potential of the insurer to undertake the risks, you will set the price of the insurance cover depending on the information you receive. You must have analytical thinking skills to confidently and successfully execute tasks while working as an underwriter.
  • Post-secondary teacher- If you are passionate about mathematics, you can perfect the skills and knowledge acquired during your degree program through teaching. With a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science, you can teach subjects such as additional mathematics and statistics at the pre-university level. The creative thinking and problem-solving skills you acquire in training will help you develop effective ways of teaching.

Once you secure a job with your undergraduate degree, you must advance your studies to deliver actuarial excellence in your career. One of the reasons for advancing your actuarial studies is that it keeps you relevant in the continuously changing work environment. Attaining a different but related degree improves your chances of growing as a professional. Different degrees mean you have additional skills that set you apart from other employees at your workplace. Here are some jobs that you can do with a master’s degree in actuarial science.

  • Actuarial consultant- Consultants play an important part in business operations. However, the qualifications for being a consultant are a bit stringent compared to other jobs. As a consultant, you must have attained at least a master’s degree in your field of practice. Additionally, you must have several years of experience to gain the trust of your targeted clients. The role of an actuarial consultant is to advise insurers on what moves to make in the market. As an actuarial consultant, you might also work with big corporations to decide on the best insurance cover to purchase for their needs. Consultants are generally expected to have a sharper and diverse range of analytical thinking and numeracy skills.
  • Business research expert- Various organizations rely on research to carry out their operations. These include government agencies and international bodies. With a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in actuarial science, you can serve as a research expert for these organizations. Research experts collect and analyze raw data to give useful information and recommendations for smooth business operations. The statistical knowledge you acquire in the actuarial degree program sets you up for such jobs. Additionally, research experts could be brought on boards of businesses and government agencies to aid in the policymaking process. You can contribute to making policies that will govern the operations of corporations such as insurance agencies.

Although there are many job opportunities, you can’t operate as an actuary before you are licensed. You must sit for professional exams to determine whether you qualify for licensing or not. There are many more job opportunities that you can explore with degrees in actuarial science. Platforms such as career outlook will give you more detail about job opportunities.

How To Choose An Actuarial Science Program

There are many actuarial science degree programs. These programs have become increasingly available due to the high demand for actuarial science graduates. Choosing the degree program you enroll in is essential. Your choice of degree program determines the quality of training you receive and how fast you get employed after school. Here are some tips you can apply when selecting an actuarial degree program.

  • Quality of training offered.

The quality of training you receive in an actuarial science degree program plays a vital role in your employment life. Well-trained actuaries are likely to be employed faster than those with insufficiencies in certain areas. Although various institutions advertise actuarial science programs, some are not well equipped to execute the training. Institutions with partnerships with business economics firms and other employers are the best to enroll in. Such institutions set up students for attachment opportunities in partner organizations. Internships equip you with the skills needed to operate in the workplace successfully. Additionally, the partner organizations are potential employers that could absorb you immediately after school.

  • Marketability of the degree you attain

One of the main considerations you should have before enrolling in an actuarial degree program is returns on investment. Acquiring a degree in actuarial science is expensive both in monetary and effort terms. Therefore, you must ensure your intended purpose for studying is achievable with the degree program you choose. If you study to be employed and earn money in the future, the program you choose should let you work in more than one field, implying that you have to look for one that offers additional training to diversify your skills.

  • Cost of the degree program

Financial considerations are essential when enrolling in a degree program. The amount of money you spend to study should be affordable depending on your financial status. Your financial status determines how comfortable your stay in an academic institution will be if you enroll in on-campus degree programs. A degree program is more than just tuition fees. There are many more expenses that you will incur to complete your studies. These include rent, food, commuting expenses. In cases where you find it hard to finance your expenses, you can apply for available financial aid. The government and other agencies offer financial assistance opportunities to various students in actuarial science degree programs.

Degree programs you choose to enroll in might vary from one another. What determines the variations are the institution you choose to study in and the mode of study. However, some classes covered are identical in all actuarial degree programs. These include:

  • Mathematical courses- Mathematics form the basics of actuarial science. Every actuarial science degree program you enroll in covers the main actuarial mathematics courses to prepare you for the actuarial exam and your career. These mathematical courses are calculus, statistics, financial mathematics, and actuarial models. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, classifies actuarial science as a math occupation due to the extent to which mathematical courses are covered and applied.
  • Business courses- The main operations of actuaries are in the business world. Therefore, actuarial science degree programs include business courses to prepare graduates for life while practicing. Business courses such as economics and corporate finance are essential in actuaries operations after school. They help in understanding the dynamics of the business world for analysis and prediction of risks.
  • Computer science and programming- With technological advancements, business operations have moved to online platforms. These advancements mean that more data is collected in the modern world than it was several years ago. To properly collect and analyze data to draw the correct conclusions, actuaries need to know how to write computer programs. These programs can handle huge volumes of data with minimal errors than when handled by humans. More inventions and innovations are underway to improve the use of artificial intelligence in actuarial work, which is where complex programs are written to automatically collect, analyze and give information from raw data collected.

Institutions offer different forms of learning for actuarial degree programs. You can opt for either online learning on traditional on-campus learning. Online learning has several advantages over on-campus learning. However, not all institutions guarantee quality training through online platforms. You need to look at the institution’s educational capacity before enrolling in its online actuarial degree program. The main benefit of online learning is that it cuts down on costs. You don’t have to pay for accommodation or commuting fees since you can learn from the comfort of your home.

Additionally, online programs are flexible, which implies that you can learn at your own time and pace, depending on how committed you are to other things. If you are employed, you can consider online learning since it won’t affect your average salary in terms of expenditure or time spent away from work.

Best Actuarial Science Programs

Whether it is online or on-campus, everyone wishes to have the best training when enrolling in an actuarial science degree program. There are many degree programs, making it hard to find one that suits you best. Although an online bachelor’s degree is equally effective, some employers might prefer hiring on-campus graduates for various reasons. These include the quality of training assumed to be offered in face-to-face learning environments. Many people assume that on-campus learning gives students a better chance to interact with tutors hence better training. When choosing the best program to enroll in, here are some of the factors to consider to ensure you choose the best one for you.

  • Your passion and abilities- Pursuing a career out of passion is great. You get to do what you like for the rest of your life. If you are passionate about actuarial science, the degree program you choose should guarantee fulfillment. It should provide you with all the skills and knowledge to comfortably practice as an actuary. Online bachelor’s degree programs might not guarantee complete satisfaction if you intend to pursue actuarial science out of passion. It lacks the personal bond between students and tutors. Directly engaging with students and tutors allows you to learn a lot more concepts and explore ideas in the profession.
  • Other commitments- There are many actuarial science degree programs designed to serve different types of people. If you are busy with family or a full-time job, you should enroll in a part-time degree program. This kind of program allows you to schedule classes at your convenience. Therefore, you have time to attend to other commitments while learning. Online degree programs are ideal if you have a lot of obligations. With these programs, you don’t have to commute to school. You can attend classes from wherever you are. Part-time degree programs take longer than full-time programs because students in full-time programs cover more course content as their classes run throughout the day for the entire study period.

Several other factors determine whether a degree program is ideal for you or not, including personal attributes. If you are an introvert, you might be more comfortable in an online class than a physical one. Here are some of the top schools you can enroll in for actuarial science degree programs.

The University of Washington is considered one of the best institutions to enroll in actuarial science and other business-related courses. The institution is known for producing highly trained actuaries that serve in various organizations in Washington and other places. Studying at the University of Washington allows you to interact with practicing actuaries. These interactions shape you for employment life. With over 40,000 students, the university offers a secure and student-friendly environment. The University of Washington also offers great online actuarial science degree programs.

If you seek to pursue a master’s degree in actuarial science, the University of Illinois is one of the best institutions to consider. The university has state-of-the-art learning facilities to take care of reading and research needs. With thousands of published research papers in their library, the University of Illinois provides students with access to information that helps them learn about the past and future of actuarial science. The school has more than 6000 campuses that you can choose from. Additionally, it has invested in online learning programs to make education accessible by individuals with other commitments.

Started as a college, Carnegie Mellon University is one of the best universities with actuarial science degree programs. The university has dedicated tutors of business and mathematics-related courses. It is the best institution to enroll in for a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science. AT this university, you have access to a community of more than 14,000 students.

There are many more institutions with great actuarial science degree programs. The pricing of the programs varies from one to another. However, the total costs you might incur to study depends on the location of the university. Some of these universities have student aid programs for those who can’t comfortably support themselves through school.

In Summary

Pursuing a degree in actuarial science sets you up for employment and work in many areas of the business field. However, the profession mostly suits individuals to work in the insurance industry. Obtaining a degree in actuarial science does not guarantee employment after school. You need to put in extra effort and determination as a student and after school. Getting higher grades in your degree program will earn you employment faster. Employers look for excellent performers since the business industry requires critical thinkers to solve problems. Your networking skills play an essential role in how fast you get employed.

School is expensive, but financial constraints shouldn’t be a reason you fail to achieve your dream of becoming an actuary. If the cost of studying is more than you can afford, you should apply for financial aid. Various organizations, including the government, offer financial aid to students at various levels. Although you might have access to several financial aid options, financial discipline is also necessary to handle the financial constraints of attending college. Other than making your time in school more manageable, financial discipline determines your success as a professional. The ability to make sound financial decisions will help you succeed in the future as an employer and business person, not to mention when managing your personal finances.

Many institutions offer actuarial science degree programs, making it hard to choose which program is best suited for you. Therefore, you should consult with experts before settling on an institution or degree program to enroll in. Consulting career advisors helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of certain programs, which allows you to make sound decisions about the program you enroll in.

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