Science and Technology Degrees Offer Multi-Faceted Career Opportunities
Usually, when one thinks of a career in mathematics, they think of ivory tower recluses contemplating the nature of the universe through numbers. The truth is quite the opposite. One of the largest of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career paths is the actuary and by the very nature of their profession they are one of the most grounded of the fields. A love of numbers and a bachelor science degree can start one on this career path.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, actuaries deal with risk. They decide how likely things such as death, sickness, injury, disability, and loss of property are to occur, as well as the costs of these things. They also decide how much money it will take in order to get a certain amount of retirement income. They help design insurance policies, pension plans and try to make sure any risk is sound. Actuaries may need to explain their findings to company executives, government officials, the public and may even testify in court as experts
In other words, they are the backbone of the insurance industry. They can also work for consulting firms, where their expertise in risk assessment can be used in a number of other ways. If you look at TV shows such as Numb3rs, a lot of the science the stars use is actuarial.
Actuaries must have a strong background in both math and general business. To start in the field, one must have a Bachelor’s degree in math, actuarial science, or statistics, although there are actuaries who have degrees in economics, finance, or accounting.
Most universities have actuarial science programs. It’s usually a good idea to talk to a career counselor to learn what is actually in the curriculum. Even with a degree, graduates also have to take a certification exam before they earn a full position. Luckily, many insurers and similar firms will hire the graduate while they study for the actuarial exam online.
There is an incredible need for this profession. This is certainly reflected in the salary. According to the Bureau, the bottom end of an annual wage is nearly $50,000 a year. The average actuary wage ranges from $90,000 to $110,000, depending on which industry he or she is in, and where they are located. The top ten percent exceeds over $160,000 before going into upper management. These jobs almost always come with superlative benefits packages, including investment and retirement programs, extended vacations, continued education packages and, naturally, life and health insurance.
As actuarial science is considered a STEM field, it is open to more than the usual avenues for financial aid. Not only can a student get a standard Pell Grant, but also is open to an S-STEM grant from the National Science Foundation. Also, many professional organizations inside the finance and science communities have grant funds.