What is an actuary?
In its simplest form, actuaries are specialists in quantifying risk for insurance companies and consulting firms. They help “predict” the future, but unlike fortune tellers, they use historical information and their problem solving and quantitative skills. Actuaries need to have strong analytical and computer skills, but also need good communication skills to relay their findings to people that do not necessarily have actuarial background knowledge.
There are many different types of actuaries, with the most popular being Property & Casualty actuaries and Life & Health actuaries. Property & Casualty actuaries deal with risks related to property and businesses, while Life & Health actuaries deal with risks related to people’s health and well-being.
Like lawyers and doctors, actuaries have to pass a series of professional exams; however, they can study and take these exams while working as a full-time actuary.
Check out these useful websites for additional information:
Additionally, here are a few helpful videos!
Student Perspectives on Business Careers as Actuaries
The Student Perspectives on Business Careers as Actuaries video series features the following current or former UW-Madison actuarial students discussing actuarial science and other business issues:
Jovaughn Bowen, graduation year 2022
Dayne Lassiter, graduation year 2023
Claire Liu, graduation year 2022
Calice Robbins, graduation year 2021
Acknowledgement of contributions to the video series:
These videos describe the role of an actuary, desirable skills for actuaries to be successful, what actuaries do, and useful classes to prepare for an actuarial career:
These videos describe other issues in a business setting: microaggressions, allyship, code switching, additional steps to be successful in academics and business, and benefits of working as an actuary:
UW-Madison is proud to offer a BBA degree in Actuarial Science (not all universities have an actuarial program!) that helps students prepare for up to five professional exams. As part of the Wisconsin School of Business, UW-Madison’s actuarial science program provides students with business acumen that is beneficial in the workplace. Alternatively, UW-Madison also offers an applied mathematics degree with an emphasis in actuarial science. Other benefits that this program offers include a Risk and Insurance specific career fair, a wide variety of actuarial and risk and insurance courses offered year-round, an active Actuarial Club, many opportunities to network through CCLB and Actuarial Club speaker events, and industry experienced, highly credentialed faculty. UW-Madison is designated as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by The Society of Actuaries.
Courses to Take in High School
Courses you can take in high school to prepare for your college career in actuarial science include AP Stats, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, and AP Psychology (a Wisconsin School of Business requirement). If these courses aren’t offered at your school, try taking math and computer courses every school year and any other AP courses that can fulfill your general education requirements at UW-Madison.
UW-Madison Actuarial Program Scholarship
Are you a good problem solver? Have you heard about "data science"? How about a career as an actuary! The UW-Madison Actuarial Program Scholarship (application here) is awarded to a high school senior who shows promise and interest in an actuarial career.
A scholarship of $5,000 will be awarded to the winner for the first year to study actuarial science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The award will be given to to a high school senior based on quantitative aptitude and an expressed interest in actuarial science. Other awards may be given as well. After the first year, additional scholarships are available through the actuarial science program.
Actuarial Awareness Night
Actuarial Awareness Night is an event where interested individuals can learn more about the actuarial profession and the UW-Madison actuarial program. A panel that includes practicing actuaries, and UW-Madison actuarial faculty and students, will share their experiences and answer your questions. We welcome anyone who is interested in pursuing a degree or capstone certificate in actuarial science, including:
High school students and parents
High school teachers
Adults interested in a career change
College students who are undecided on a major
The next Actuarial Awareness Night will be held on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, from 6:00-7:00pm CT in Room 4151, Grainger Hall. This Zoom link will allow you to attend the event virtually if you cannot make it in person.
Request a Presentation at Your High School
If you and your classmates are interested in pursuing a major and career in actuarial science, request a club member to present at your high school!* This presentation would include more information on the actuarial career, the benefits of majoring in actuarial science at UW-Madison, and what you can do right now in high school to prepare you for your college career. There would also be a Q&A session at the end to answer any questions you may have. Contact the High School Outreach Program Coordinator, Paul H. Johnson, Jr., PhD (email@example.com), expressing interest or with any questions.
*The High School Outreach Program is offered mostly only in the Wisconsin area. However, if you are not in this area, please still reach out to see if it is available at your high school or if other arrangements could be made.