Becoming an Actuary at 30: Is It Too Late?

Interested in becoming an actuary at 30? Learn about what education you need, job experience, transferable skills, and expected salary.

Have you been considering a career change lately? If you are 30 years or older, you are probably also thinking that it might be too late to start over.

Well, the good news is that it isn’t. It’s never too late to pursue something new in life.

If you are interested in math and statistics, you might be considering becoming an actuary.

In this article, we are going to explore some of the challenges and opportunities of becoming an actuary at 30.

We’ll discuss the process of becoming an actuary as well as what to keep in mind as you start your journey toward this goal.

Is it too late to become an actuary at 30? 

As mentioned before, it is never too late to start a new career, no matter how old you may be. Therefore, it is not too late to become an actuary at 30. 

That said, it does require a lot of dedication and perseverance to achieve this goal at this age.

Plus, the average age of new actuaries is around 24. This means you will be older than most of your peers and supervisors.

This may lead to its own set of challenges in the workplace, such as adjusting to different work cultures, feeling insecure about your skills, or dealing with age discrimination.

However, it also has its own advantages, such as being more mature, motivated, and having more life experience than everyone else. 

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze and manage financial risk. They typically work in the insurance industry, pensions, health care, banking, and consulting. Noting that most work for insurance companies in an office setting.

To become one in the US, you need to pass a series of exams administered by one of the professional actuarial organizations: the Society of Actuaries (SOA), the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), or the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA).

The exam process may take several years, covering topics like probability, finance, economics, life contingencies, and risk management.

If you would like to become an actuary at 30, you will need to start by taking some courses in the field. You will also have to do a bit of self-studying to prepare for the exams.

Do some research and choose a field that suits your goals, then consider joining a professional network or having a mentor that will guide you through the process. This will speed things up for you massively.

What is the process of becoming an actuary at 30? 

To become an actuary, there are several things that you have to do.

These include completing the required first step of educational experience, passing a series of certification exams, and gaining the relevant work experience.

You can pursue an actuary career at any age and your success largely depends on your motivation, previous job experience and educational, and skills.

Let’s learn more about the career path of actuarial students.

1. Educational Experience

Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science or a related field such as mathematics, statistics, or finance.

However, having a degree in a different field does not necessarily mean you can’t become an actuary.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a different field, you may consider enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program or taking additional courses in statistics, economics, and mathematics to fulfill the educational requirements.

2. Certification Exams

To become an actuary, you will need to pass a series of certification exams administered by one of the following professional actuarial bodies: 

  • Society of Actuaries (SOA) 
  • Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) 
  • American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA)

Generally, certification exams for actuaries are rigorous and require a lot of study time. However, they are an essential part of advancing your actuarial career.

For example, the preliminary exams include Exam P/1, Exam FM/2, Exam IFM/3F, Exam LTAM/MLC, and Exam STAM/C.

These test your knowledge of probability, financial mathematics, interest theory, life contingencies, statistics, and other relevant topics.

3. Work Experience

Next up is work experience. You need to gain relevant work experience, which you can do by becoming an actuarial assistant or an entry-level actuary.

You can secure employment for actuarial work in various industries, including life insurance, health insurance, pension plans, and enterprise risk management. 

As you gain more experience and pass your certification exams, you will be able to progress to higher-level actuarial positions.

You can also choose to specialize in a specific area over time. 

What should I keep in mind when becoming an actuary at 30?

Before pursuing a career as an actuary, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some of them: 

1. Your previous career path: 

Consider how your previous work experience can be leveraged as an advantage in your new career as an actuary.

For example, suppose you have experience in finance or accounting. In that case, you may have already developed a strong foundation in mathematical concepts and financial analysis, which will be useful in actuarial work. 

Additionally, your previous work experience can provide unique insights into specific industries or business models that can be valuable in actuarial work.

For example, if you worked in healthcare, you may have a good understanding of healthcare insurance policies and regulations that will help you as an actuary. 

2. Transferable Skills: 

Focus on the skills you have that can be transferred to the actuarial profession.

This can include strong math and analytical skills, attention to detail, and a commitment to lifelong learning.

If you are coming from a different career, you may have transferable skills that can benefit your actuarial career.

You may have developed several essential skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication, all of which are essential in the actuarial profession. 

For example, if you previously worked as a financial analyst using your math skills to help companies develop a picture of an investment or existing fund, you might find it easy to transition to becoming an actuary where you will focus on risk potential.

3. Your current college education and the experience/schooling required: 

We touched on this point a little earlier in this guide.

However, it is worth repeating how important it is to research the educational requirements for becoming an actuary before making the leap.

You should also consider how your current education and experience can help you meet those requirements.

Note that you may need to take additional courses or complete a degree program to qualify.

You do not need a special actuarial degree, however, you do need to meet the education requirements of entry-level actuaries regardless of what your degree is in.

4. Taking the exams: 

Next, it is essential to understand the requirements for passing the actuarial exams.

Once you have this covered, prepare a study plan that fits your schedule and learning style.

You may also want to consider joining a study group or hiring a tutor for additional support.

5. Part-time programs: 

Look into part-time programs that can help you balance your work and study commitments.

Some universities offer evening or online courses that can be completed on a flexible schedule.

6. Resources for continuing education: 

Stay up-to-date with industry trends and advances by attending conferences, webinars, and continuing education courses. This can go a long way in helping you stay competitive in the job market and advance in your career.

7. Personal challenges to overcome: 

Be prepared to face challenges such as time management, budgeting and finance issues, balancing work and study commitments, and overcoming imposter syndrome. 

Preparing for actuarial exams requires a lot of study time, especially when you have other commitments such as work or family.

You will need to develop strong time management skills and be able to balance your studies with your other responsibilities.

Additionally, becoming an actuary involves some financial investment, including the cost of exam fees, study materials, and possibly additional educational courses.

You may need to budget accordingly and consider options such as part-time programs or employer-sponsored training sessions.

You may also need to overcome self-doubt or fear of failure, especially if you are switching industries. However, remember that hard work and dedication will lead to success. 

When things get tough, it is easy to consider giving up. However, persevere instead and stick with it because it will be so rewarding to succeed in this journey.

Be sure to seek support from mentors, peers, or a professional coach if you need to. 

8. Salary and Job Growth Potential

Depending on what industry you are coming from, you may or may not earn more money.

According to the bureau of labor statistics (BLS), there are approximately 28,300 actuary jobs in the United States. The median salary in 2021 was $105,900 per year.

This career is growing at a rate of 21% which is much higher than average.

Resources for Actuaries

As an actuary, you will be working in an industry that is constantly evolving. To stay up-to-date on industry developments, there are many resources that you can take advantage of. 

Firstly, most professional societies such as the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society offer resources and events for continuing education, networking, and professional development.

These societies also provide access to industry publications and data to help you stay informed about trends and developments.

In addition to professional societies, there are also many online resources available, including forums, blogs, and industry news sources.

Taking advantage of these resources can help you stay informed about the industry and build your skills and knowledge.

Here is a breakdown of some of the best resources for actuaries that we were able to find: 

1. Exam Guides

Exam guides are resources that help you prepare for actuarial exams by providing syllabus information, registration details, study materials, practice problems, and mock tests.

Here are some of them:

  • SOA Exams & Requirements: This is an interactive guide through the SOA’s education requirements for attaining the ASA and FSA designations and the CERA credential. It covers exams such as P, FM, IFM, LTAM, STAM, SRM, and PA.
  • AnalystPrep Actuary Exam Study Guide: This is a comprehensive course that covers exams such as P/1, FM/2, IFM/3F, and LTAM/4. It offers video lessons, study notes, formula sheets, question banks, and mock exams with detailed solutions and analytics.
  • Actuarial Study Materials (ASM): This is a series of manuals that cover exams such as P/1, FM/2, IFM/3F, LTAM/4, STAM/5, SRM, MAS-I, and MAS-II. It also includes access to GOAL (Guided Online Actuarial Learning), a platform that offers a database of exam-style problems with detailed solutions.

2. Career Advice

If you need some career advice on how to plan and pursue your actuarial career goals, there are many resources for that as well.

Here are some of the places to get information on education, certification, job opportunities, skills development, and professional growth:

  • Indeed Actuary Careers: This is a website that offers information on how to become an actuary, what skills and qualifications are required, what salary and benefits to expect, what types of actuarial jobs are available, and how to advance your actuarial career.
  • Actuarial Careers Profession Overview: This is a website that offers an in-depth overview of the actuarial profession, including its history, role, structure, qualifications, exams, employers, and sectors. It also provides tips on how to apply for actuarial jobs and prepare for interviews.
  • Actuary Job & Career Centre: This is a website that offers weekly actuarial career advice articles on topics such as building a personal brand, answering questions about job-hopping, doubling your salary, networking, negotiating, and more.

3. Research Reports

Research reports are publications that present actuarial research and experience studies on a wide variety of topics of interest to actuaries and other business professionals.

Here are a few great ones: 

  • SOA Research Topics: This is a website that offers research and experience studies sponsored by the SOA on topics such as aging and post-retirement, climate change, health care, insurance, investment, mortality, and risk management.
  • Actuaries Institute Research Papers: This is a website that offers research papers authored by actuaries or commissioned by the Actuaries Institute on topics such as financial services, health, the environment, climate change, genetics, and information technology.
  • Actuarial Research Centre (ARC): This is a website that offers cutting-edge research projects delivered by the ARC, a collaboration between industry, academia, and practitioners. The projects cover topics such as big health and actuarial data, modeling pension funds under climate change, longevity risk, and mortality trends.

Blogs

There are many great actuary blogs, too! Here are a few: 

  • The Actuary Magazine: This is a blog by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) that contains information to stay on top of the actuarial profession. It covers topics such as career development, education, ethics, innovation, leadership, and research.
  • Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Blog: This is a blog by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). It offers perspectives from actuaries and other experts on current issues affecting the profession and society. It covers topics such as climate change, diversity, healthcare, pensions, and regulation.
  • Proactuary: This is a blog by a community of actuaries who share their knowledge and experience on various actuarial topics. It covers topics such as actuarial technology, data science, emerging fields, future trends, and study tips.

Podcasts

Finally, you can also check out these podcasts that are geared toward actuaries: 

  • SOA Podcasts: This is a podcast by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). It offers interviews with keynote speakers and presenters from SOA events, group discussion panels, discussions about current research, and deeper looks into issues that affect the actuarial profession. It covers topics such as aging, climate change, health care, insurance, investment, and risk management.
  • Seeing Beyond Risk: This is a podcast by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA). It gives unique perspectives from actuaries and other experts on emerging issues, trends, and challenges facing the actuarial profession and society. It covers topics such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, diversity, pandemics, and sustainability.
  • Actuarial Journey: This is a podcast by Nemo Ashong, an actuary who shares his insights, lessons learned, and step-by-step tutorials on how to pass actuarial exams and advance your actuarial career. It covers topics such as exam preparation, goal setting, mindset, and networking.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it is entirely possible to become an actuary at 30. If you have been thinking about it, understand that it is not too late. In fact, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice especially if you have a passion for mathematics, statistics, and problem-solving. 

Actuaries are in high demand in various industries and sectors. They are essential parts of the insurance, finance, health care, and consulting industries. This means there will be no shortage of work once you become an actuary. 

That said, this career path does come with its own set of challenges and trade-offs. You will need to invest a lot of time and effort to study for the actuarial exams, which can take several years to complete.

You will also need to balance your work, study, and personal commitments, something that can be rather stressful and demanding to achieve. Because of your age, you may also face some competition from younger candidates who have more recent education and experience. 

However, do not let these challenges discourage you from pursuing your dreams! Remember, age is just a number when it comes to learning new skills.

As long as you are hard-working, dedicated, and committed to continuing your education, you are going to do great! Good luck! 

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