You become an actuary by passing a series of professional examinations, and by developing your professional skills while working at an insurance company, consulting firm, or some other similar organization. A college degree is essential in order to pass the actuarial professional examinations. An actuarial major or a mathematics major are recommended, since passing the professional examinations requires a thorough understanding of mathematics. Also vital are: knowledge of finance, insurance and investments, excellent communication skills (especially the ability to communicate quantitative ideas to a non-mathematical audience), and a mastery of a computing and computer modeling.
Actuarial employment opportunities are typically available in the following types of organizations: health, life, property, and casualty insurance firms; actuarial and employee benefit consulting firms; health service organizations; insurance rating agencies; large industrial corporations; labor unions; federal government agencies; and state insurance departments.
The heart of the Actuarial Program at Illinois State University is the course work in mathematics that provides the background needed to complete a number of professional examinations. These mathematics courses are taught in high technology classrooms that contain up-to-date computer technology, projection devices, and appropriate software to assist instructors in computation as well as development of conceptual understanding.
Surveys by the actuarial profession show the market to be excellent for job candidates. We recommend that students pass two actuarial professional exams and complete all VEE requirements in order to compete for good entry-level jobs. Internship experience, good communication skills, ability to use Microsoft Office software, some programming ability, and understanding of the insurance business will enhance employment prospects. Information for students seeking employment and internships is posted at the Web site of our Actuarial Program. Students can inquire about an insurance minor at the Katie School of Insurance and Financial Services of Illinois State University.