It’s been a busy couple of weeks, so posting has been infrequent (my apologies). But this one jumped out at me in the news for personal reasons, so I thought I would pass it along.
As a former actuary, I like to mention when I hear about actuaries or the actuarial profession in the news. (Searching this blog for “actuar” — cutting it short so as to capture “actuary”, “actuarial”, etc. — produces a number of hits, some relevant, but some not.) Today the actuarial profession had a very pleasant mention, indeed.
There has been a great deal of discussion out there as to whether or not college educations are worth their cost these days. Many go into hock up to their eyeballs for a degree only to find that they are unable to make a living after they graduate. This is due, I think, to a number of factors — the current economy, yes, but also changes in both the content and quality of university education, increases in how much it costs to gain that education, and a mindset that has made college an end in and of itself. Yes, the Second Law of Success is “Education or Preparation” but the direction of that education or preparation is determined by the First Law of Success, which is to “Set the Right Goal.” Many jump into college without having done the first step of setting a goal, which — had they done so — might have altered their collegiate decisions and, possibly, suggested other alternatives.
But all of that is neither here nor there (he says, realizing he has allowed himself to become distracted). The article on Yahoo!’s “The Lookout” news blog that I came across today (actually published yesterday) lists the “10 college majors with the lowest unemployment rates.” And there, at the very top, was “Actuarial Science” with an unemployment rate for recent graduates of “0%.” There might be some other stories buried in that list — feel free to check it out and comment below, if so. But the one that warmed my heart was the #1 major listed, good ol’ actuarial.
Actually, I did not major in Actuarial Science. I majored in pure (theoretical) mathematics, and after earning a bachelors I began teaching high school mathematics, which was my goal on entering. (I was counseled to major in applied mathematics, instead, since I was going to be teaching high school, but I loved the theoretical, “prove it, prove it, prove it” stuff too much not to major in it. Nothing against application, which I’ve come to appreciate very much — the two majors being two sides of the same coin — but my heart still lies on the pure mathematics side of that divide.) As stressful as it could be at times — and watching kids run full throttle down a path of self-destruction can be stressful — I enjoyed being a math teacher very much, especially as I got to teach (among other wonderful subjects) Calculus, a passionate and poetic subject if ever there were one. But when Boy #1 arrived, I found I needed to find another job that would allow us to keep to our plans of having my Beautiful Wife work (even harder) at home, so I became an actuary.
I was sad to leave teaching, to be sure, but I found I loved being an actuary. Yes, I lived in a Dilbert-like cubicle, and, yes, I spent much of my time working on spreadsheets, and, yes, the exams were some of the most excruciating experiences I’ve ever had in my life, and, yes, it was geeky work. But I loved it. And for those with good, strong mathematical skills who would like to be able to use them in a career that simultaneously offers so much more than mathematics, I highly recommend looking into it. (You can start here: BeAnActuary.org.)
Though I’m a minister now, the experience I had as an actuary still benefits me. And it is nice to see it in the news, even if the news is not a surprise. 🙂
But if you are considering your goals and facing college-related decisions and being an actuary isn’t your cup of tea, check out the rest of the list. The key seems to be highly skilled labor over positions that could be filled easily. Though, again, if anyone notices anything else newsworthy in the list, by all means comment below and let us know.