What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?

An aspiring actuary, who is a college student, asked me to answer some questions about my profession. Here was the first question and my answer:

Knowing the goal is to become a fully credentialed Actuary, it’s important to:

  • Be goal oriented
  • Be smart and be a hard worker
  • Have discipline to stay on task  (e.g. Do you complete your assignments on time?)
  • Have time management skills to both study and do the work
  • Have the drive and determination to pass each actuarial exam
  • Have a strong math background  (Take those probability, calculus, and statistics classes!)
  • Have strong writing skills  (Can you write a paper? Better yet, can your write a memo with your recommendations with analysis?)
  • Have the ability to solve problems in a logical way   (Who said those upper division math classes requiring you to write proofs has no value? Of course it does!)
  • Have the ability to balance different parts of your life  (e.g. Studying 100 hours per exam hour with seeing friends and having a relationship or possibly having a family)
  • Be willing to make some tough sacrifices

As far as doing the work as an Actuary, these traits can be important:

  • Being a team player  (This is where team sports come into play)
  • Being independent to work on your projects
  • Having the creativity to solve problems  (Can you demonstrate this?)
  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong writing skills
  • Strong technical skills  (A lot of us spend a lot of time coding to analyze data!)
  • Demonstrating time management skills
  • Knowing current events that can impact our work  (e.g. Politics, Economics, Statistical Methods used by other fields)
  • Being coachable  (Again, think sports)
  • Demonstrating leadership qualities  (This is where experience with Clubs, Student Council, and Volunteer work is valuable)

Does this sound like you?

You can build up your technical/computer skills over here by enrolling in the Technical Skills Course!