Actuarial Science @ Calvin

What is an actuary?

Actuaries are professionals who construct and use mathematical models to evaluate the likelihood of possible future events and to design ways to reduce the negative consequences of possible outcomes of such events.   A majority of actuaries work in the insurance industry but actuaries can be found in any industry that requires careful planning for the future especially in the presence of risk.   A more detailed description of what an actuary does can be found here:  http://beanactuary.org/about/whatis.cfm

How does one become an actuary?

Actuaries typically progress through the ranks of the profession by meeting a series of requirements set by the Society of Actuaries http://www.soa.org/  or one of the other more specialized actuarial societies.   These requirements consist of educational experiences (college courses), a series of tests, and some specialized short courses offered by the society.   Typically students meet the educational experience requirements in college and take one or two tests before they graduate.   After graduation from college, most prospective actuaries immediately take positions in the industry and continue taking tests while “on the job.”  Most employers pay for these tests and many give paid time off to study for them.  There are also graduate programs in actuarial science but they are not necessary and a majority of actuaries do not follow this route.

How can Calvin prepare me to be an actuary?

At Calvin, you can take course work to meet all the educational experience requirements of the SOA as well as to prepare for the first test.   This is typically all that is needed to get the first job in the profession.   While you need not major in any particular discipline, the ideal preparation will include mathematics, business, economics and computer science courses.  The following set of courses is recommended:

  • Mathematics 343--344.  This prepares a student for the first exam, Exam P.
  • Economics 343.  This course meets the VEE requirement of Applied Statistical Methods.
  • Economics 221--222.  This sequence meets the VEE requirement of Economics.
  • Business 370--371.  This sequence meets the VEE requirement of Corporate Finance.

The above courses have prerequisites so this program actually requires the following courses:

  • Mathematics 171, 172, 271, 343, 344
  • Business 203, 204, 370, 371
  • Economics 221, 222, 343

Most pre-actuarial students major in Mathematics, Business, or in the group Business-Mathematics major.

Useful websites

The pre-actuarial advisor at Calvin is Prof. Michael Stob, NH279, x6-7114, stob@calvin.edu.   If you are interested in studying to be an actuary, you would be well-advised to talk to him early in your Calvin career.