How to Become an Actuary: 8 Tips for the Journey from a Grace Actuarial Science Graduate
For many college seniors, one big question hovers in the back of their minds: where will I work after graduation? It’s the question asked at family gatherings and reunions with high school friends, and it can be difficult to answer.
Houston Haney got not one answer but two.
A 2021 Grace grad, Haney applied to about 50 jobs starting in September of his senior year. By November, he had two offers, one of which was at Brotherhood Mutual, where he has been working since graduation.
As an actuarial analyst, Haney uses data to determine potential loss and risk within a company. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of actuaries is projected to grow a considerable 24% from 2020 to 2030.
Now that he has been working as an actuary for several months, he answers the question: What do actuaries do? And he provides some helpful tips on how to become an actuary.
Tip #1: Gain Experience with Internships
Haney’s second job offer was at Cincinnati Insurance Companies, where he had interned while in school. His previous experience with and understanding of the company allowed him to stand out among the other applicants. Although he turned the job down, his experience was important on his journey on how to become an actuary.
Tip #2: Take the Exams Early
There are 10 exams that an actuary needs to pass to be fully certified. Haney started taking these while he was in college, and he was able to pass the first three before he graduated. Since May, he has passed his fourth while working a full-time job. Because he was proactive about taking them early, he has a head start on getting certified and advancing his career.
Tip #3: Master the Skill of Time Management
As a college athlete, Haney learned the value of time management. Because Haney began taking his exams while in college, he soon realized it was important to be intentional about allotting time for athletics and studying. This skill continues to serve him as he works on his exams, he set aside time in his day to study and prepare.
Tip #4: Listen to Podcasts
Chances are, if you want to learn about a topic, you can find a podcast on it. Haney says that he has learned how useful podcasts can be, both personally and professionally. “Taking the time to listen to podcasts can build your knowledge and give you confidence to keep pursuing your goals,” Haney says. Whether you’re looking for more information about how to become an actuary or you want to research a niche topic you’re passionate about, podcasts are a great way for you to learn and grow.
Tip #5: Find a Support System
Seeking guidance from a variety of people is important for growth in any career, but especially when it comes to how to become an actuary. “In every place I’ve been in my journey, there have been people who have shaped me and taken me under their wing to teach me,” he says. “It’s important that you learn from people with many viewpoints to guide you.”
Haney’s baseball coach at Grace, Ryan Roth, taught him a lot about leadership and wisdom. He also values the guidance from Professor Christopher Moore, whose experience as an actuary made Haney feel open to ask for guidance about his future career.
Professor Moore is impressed with Haney’s work ethic and dedication and views him as an example for future actuarial science students. Moore says, “Houston took initiative as a college student to prepare for his career. What impresses me most about Houston, though, is his interest in helping others and his demonstrated willingness to do just that.”
Tip #6: Apply for Jobs You Aren’t Necessarily Qualified For
Haney says the biggest mistake people make when job searching is not applying for a job they don’t meet all the criteria for. “There may be a point where they’re down to two candidates,” Haney says, “and one meets all the requirements but doesn’t mesh well with the team, and the other meets half the requirements but gets along well, and I’d say the company is more likely to hire the one they like.” When in doubt, apply for the job! You never know if you never try.
Tip #7: Be Open to Variety
You might be wondering, outside of managing risks, what do actuaries do? Haney gets to work with all departments in his company, and because of this, he has gotten to know the company well. The variety of working with someone new every day has made his day to day work in the office exciting. “Each day could be something new,” he says. “You never know what department you might need to interact with.”
Tip #8: Remember There is More to a Vocation than Just Work
When you ask Haney the question, “What do actuaries do?” his response entails more than a simple list of tasks. According to Haney, work is about the relationships formed on the job. “I want to bring some sort of fun and humor but also seriousness to the workplace,” he says. “I don’t want to just come in, put in eight hours, and not get to know my team members personally. Some people miss out on relationships when they just come in to work, do the job, and then leave.”
If you want to know more about how to become an actuary, check out our actuarial science program and learn about how you can bring your skillset to this growing industry.