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Acturial Science job prospects

PROFILE: Actuary

Actuaries apply mathematical and statistical techniques to business problems. They work out the degree of risk on life assurance policies, pensions and employee benefits and investments.
Tasks include: Calculating and advising on life assurance policies, pensions and employee benefits and investments; applying mathematical and statistical techniques to business problems by: computer work; writing letters, reports; filing; spreadsheets.
Employers: Actuaries work in life assurance, general insurance, actuarial consultancies, investment banks and for the Government Actuaries Department. Some Chartered Accountancy firms are now setting up actuarial departments.
Satisfactions include: Passing exams, able to achieve things, (i. e. valuation results), travel and working with people from other companies.
Negative aspects include: Studying for exams - very hard work - needs lots of motivation. Long hours.
Skills required include: Analysing, Investigating, Numeracy, Communication, Cooperating, Advising
Degree subjects: Actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, economics, operational research - mathematics based degrees, otherwise must have a very good grade at Maths A level. Need to show good communication and interpersonal skills as well as numeracy. Postgraduate qualification in Actuarial Science at Kent, Heriot Watt or City Universities may be helpful for those who have not studied Maths or Actuarial Science at first-degree level and give exemptions from professional exams.

Financial Mathematics Careers

What kind of jobs can I obtain when I graduate?

There are opportunities in areas as diverse as banking, insurance and investment, environmental modelling, oceanography, meteorology, computing, information technology, government, education or research. In the finance industry, for example, there are many highly-paid positions in areas like portfolio optimisation, option pricing and stockmarket prediction. The handling of large amounts of money requires the use of sophisticated mathematical techniques to limit risk. The official regulator of the financial sector, the APRA, also regularly advertises graduate opportunities. And the deregulation of the electricity generation industry has created a high demand for mathematicians.

There are many positions in the area of environmental modelling, which uses mathematics to understand and predict complex environmental systems. The School's courses in oceanography, marine science and meteorology are directly relevant to work in the Bureau of Meteorology, Weatherzone and CSIRO. But the same techniques of modelling and prediction are applicable much more widely, in, for example, fisheries management and salinity prediction. The expanding biotechnology and health industries are providing an increasing number of positions, especially in biostatistics.

There are many positions available for mathematics teachers in high schools, for those who wish to inspire the next generation of mathematicians. Qualifications in teaching are required. Other jobs in maths communication involve interpreting complex financial information for company reports and prospectuses, and designing TV and newspaper weather reports.

Academic positions within universities, and research positions with universities, the CSIRO, and the Defence Science and Technology Organization are available for those with the drive to discover new knowledge in mathematics.

And remember, the same formulas are true all over the world (actually, in all possible worlds): mathematics is the ultimate portable skill. It is thus perfect for "keeping your options open".

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