The ongoing re-calculation of risk exposure for insurance companies is an actuary’s primary responsibility. Actuaries must be extremely experienced with computers and programming in order to quickly manage data streams and discern trends. An essential skill for actuaries is to take this useful information and share what they have found in an approachable way. Most actuaries find careers with insurance companies. Some financial service companies also have actuarial departments that manage investment risks.
Because actuaries must be prepared to read the latest data and respond to risks, it is imperative that they keep up with trends in technology and their field. The following free resources for actuaries can help those who are working to become actuaries find study guides, scholarships, and career information. Individuals who are already certified actuaries will also find value in podcasts, courses, and organizations that are all free of charge.
Actuary Voices Podcast
The Actuary Voices Podcast is presented by the American Academy of Actuaries. This free show started in 2019 and currently has ten episodes that provide information from past and present members of the Academy. Episodes are about 30 minutes long, which is perfect for a commute. Previous guests to the Podcast have included Academy President-elect D. Jeoff Williams, Academy President Shawna Ackerman, Academy Executive Director Mary Downs, and former Academy President Tom Wildsmith.
Some of the suggested resources from the Actuary Voices Podcast website are Boxscore, Up To Code, and Professionalism Counts. Many of these resources are free of cost as well. Actuaries will find this Podcast useful due to its efficiency in delivering information, focusing on professionalism, actuary specific topics, and the fact that most speakers on the show currently or have previously held senior ranks within the American Academy of Actuaries.
Actuarial Zone Website
The Actuarial Zone is a website packed with free resources for those who are currently studying to become actuaries or are currently in the field. For those who are on the path to becoming actuaries, there are exam resources, study tips, discount codes, and information on the best places to get study manuals and textbooks. There are also blog posts that cover topics like actuary specific scholarships, exams, and internship opportunities.
Certified actuaries will find that there is a variety of useful information as well. There are interviews about the Actuarial Tool Kit, current research on trending subjects, career tips for both experienced and new actuaries, and even a list of geographic hotspots for finding jobs within the field. Blog posts cover top webinars, tips for succeeding as an actuary, negotiating and accepting job offers, and trends in employment. The site also makes finding other free resources for actuaries a breeze with quick links to useful websites like CAS Student Central, SOA, and the International Association of Black Actuaries.
Be an Actuary Website
Be An Actuary is a one-stop-shop for free information pertaining to everything actuary. For those who are considering the career but are not sure what it entails or how to begin, there is an entire section dedicated to what actuaries do, where they work, and other relevant facts about the career. Top-ranked jobs in the actuary field, average salary information, career outlook, and ideas on how to maintain work/life balance can also be found.
Those who are ready to get started can find comprehensive steps from high school through graduate work. Students in need of scholarships or financial assistance will be able to easily navigate the scholarships section, which categorizes actuary specific scholarships by geographic location, specific university, and diversity scholarships. Because of their commitment to making sure that everyone with the skills and drive to become an actuary has access to the materials and resources needed, the site has an entire section for information on diversity programs geared toward actuaries. Some of these include high school summer actuary programs, a diversity exam reimbursement program, biographies of successful actuaries, and even easy access links to sites like the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, the International Association of Black Actuaries, INROADS, the Hispanic Alliance for Career Advancement.
Data Science: Visualization Course
Data Science: Visualization is an edX course sponsored by Harvard University. The class is designed to teach students the basics of data visualization and how to apply them using ggplot2. The course is free but can also be taken with nine other courses as a part of the Professional Certificate Program in Data Science, which costs $441.90.
The class begins with database sets and then moves into more complex case studies concerning economics, world health, and even infectious disease trends within the United States. Students are also taught to examine the way that biases, mistakes, systematic errors, and unexpected problems can lead to data inaccuracies. Data visualization is particularly important for actuaries because of how difficult it can be to find mistakes within datasets. Data visualization now has many software tools that provide a powerful and efficient way to detect flaws, motivate analysis, and communicate data-driven findings.
Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Course
Nearly 150,000 individuals have already signed up for Coursera’s free Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making course. Students can take this class independently without charge. Students can also choose to complete it as a part of the Career Success Specialization or Project Management & Other Tools for Career Development Specialization.
This course, offered by the University of California, Irvine, takes about five hours to complete and is 100% online. Deadlines are flexible as a UC, Irvine instructor walks students through Introductions to Problem Solving, Charts & Diagrams, Decision Making Methods, and Implementing Decisions. Some of the skills acquired from the class that applies to actuaries are the ability to explain the key elements of problem-solving and decision making, assessing conceptual blocks or situational challenges, identifying common obstacles to effective problem solving and decision making, and recognizing the human variable in problem-solving and decision making. This course is free, but a certificate can be purchased for a small fee.
Practical Predictive Analytics: Models and Methods Course
Coursera’s Practical Predictive Analytics: Models and Methods Course is presented by The University of Washington. It is the second course of the Data Science at Scale Specialization and can be completed for free as an individual course or paired with the specialization for a fee. More than 32,000 students have taken this course to date. An impressive 20% of those participants got tangible career benefits from the course.
Those who are already in the actuary field will appreciate that the class only takes about seven hours to complete and offers the ability to work at your own pace. During the course, students will do required readings, watch videos, and take quizzes as they work through weekly modules. Module topics include Practical Statistical Inference, Supervised Learning, Optimization, and Unsupervised Learning. Skills relevant to actuaries are learning to design statistical experiments and analyze results, exploring common pitfalls in interpreting statistical arguments.
R Programming Course
Over half a million students have enrolled in Coursera’s R Programming class. The course is sponsored by Johns Hopkins University and taught by three members of their esteemed faculty. This intermediate-level class takes 57 hours to complete over one month. A variety of learning styles are met through videos, reading assignments, and quizzes. This course does operate on a slightly more structured schedule. While it is 100% online, there are set deadlines each week. For those actuaries who are considering beginning an MBA, this course may be an ideal test run for work-life balance.
Topics start with basic concepts such as how to get started with R, installing R for your specific computer, code writing, and data types. Week two dives deeper into programming through discussions on control structures and functions. In the third week, students will learn about loop functions and debugging tools. During the final week of the course, simulating data in R and str functions are the main topics of discussion.
Society of Actuaries Website
The Society of Actuaries website offers excellent free resources for actuaries. Future actuaries can find information about career paths, earning actuarial credentials, scholarships, internships, and more. Becoming an actuary can be an intensive academic experience. The site also has many resources about educational pathways, exams, and universities and colleges with actuarial programs.
Those who are already in the actuarial field can find professional development opportunities easily with the option to search by topic, type, or location. Quick links to research and professional sections can be found right on the homepage. The Tools & Resources tab offers content for building an actuary community, CPD tracker, actuarial practice, and they even have a comprehensive actuarial toolkit. The Actuarial toolkit has links to old exams for PA, CFEFD, ERM, RETDAC, and more all in one place. This is an invaluable free resource for those studying for their exams. The Society also has membership and volunteer programs for those who are looking to find a community within their field.
The Actuarial Review Magazine
Actuarial Review is a bi-monthly magazine that discusses current issues for actuaries, such as the social impact of inflation, the effects of COVID-19, and addressing hiring diversity data. The Magazine is brought to readers by CAS. The Casualty Actuary Society is the foremost international organization for professional education and credentialing. CAS serves more than 8,000 readers worldwide and is the world’s only actuarial association that focuses solely on property and casualty risk.
Previous magazines can be found in the archives, or the newest issue can be downloaded for free as well. The Magazine and websites include sections that cover business and technology, emerging stories, opinion pieces, lifestyle, and research. Events are also held either in person or online. A few of the previous events have included a virtual workshop discussing Python for actuaries; a webinar about updates on computer-based testing; a virtual seminar going over ratemaking, products, and modeling; and an international webinar that discussed communicating risk information.
The Not Unreasonable Blog and Podcast
The Not Unreasonable Blog and Podcast are hosted by David Wright. Wright was born and raised in Canada but moved to New York City in 2010. He is an actuary and reinsurance broker at Beach, a global reinsurance intermediary. The Podcast can be subscribed to on Stitcher, rss feed, or Itunes. A few of the Topics discussed recently have been how COVID is affecting the poor, the history of health insurance in America, escaping the software buildup trap, analyzing highway safety, and entrepreneurs as underwriters.
For the blog, Wright often discusses his personal opinions on the podcasts; videos are also available. The Not Unprofessional Project is another service provided along with the blog and Podcast. The Not Unprofessional Project does have a yearly cost of $50, but this fee makes earning actuarial professionalism CE credits simple. The program includes many in-depth discussions of precepts, as well as audio essays and panel discussions.
Actuaries play a vital role in the insurance field and decipher data for informed decision making in other aspects of the business as well. Continuing education is an important aspect of the actuary field. According to Be An Actuary, it can take from six to ten years to pass all of the necessary exams to become a fully certified actuary. Studying and taking these exams can become quite pricey. This is why free resources like the Actuarial Toolkit from the Society of Actuaries can be such a great asset.
For those who are considering going into the actuary field, it is decision time. What is your focus and how will you get there?
It is beneficial to consider whether you plan to move into the property track or the life and health side of this in-demand field. Internships are an excellent way to get practical experience that will guide your decisions.
Most entry-level actuary positions require a minimum of bachelor’s degrees and two passed exams in order to be considered for the position. Great options for undergraduate degrees include Bachelor’s in Statistics, Bachelor’s of Actuarial Science, Bachelor’s in Insurance and Risk Management, or Bachelor’s of Business Analytics.
Upper-level positions often prefer a master’s degree, such as an MBA with an emphasis in Business Analytics or Master’s in Actuarial Science. You can find out more about these programs on our list of best degrees for actuaries. Be An Actuary also has a comprehensive list of programs that would be ideal for those going into this field.
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