Actuarial Exams & VEE Credit

In order to become a credentialed actuary, you will need to pass a series of professional examinations, demonstrate a strong background in other subject areas (VEE requirements), and complete practically oriented modules and a course on professionalism.

For a current list of requirements, see here for the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and here for the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).

We encourage students to pass Exam P prior to their first Fall semester in the MS/AcSci program, as this significantly improves their chances of landing an actuarial summer internship.

Our curriculum covers the following actuarial exams:

ExamCourses
SOE EXAM FM / CAS EXAM 2AS 5101 (Theory of Interest)
SOA EXAM IFM / CAS EXAM 3FAS 5106 (Actuarial Corporate Finance)*
AS 5107 (Advanced Theory of Interest)
SOA EXAM LTAMAS 5102 (Actuarial Modeling I)
AS 5103 (Actuarial Modeling II)*
SOA EXAM STAMAS 5104 (Actuarial Modeling III)
SOA EXAM SRMAS 5108 (Actuarial Analytics)
CAS EXAM MAS-I&IIAS 5102 (Actuarial Modeling I)
AS 5103 (Actuarial Modeling II)*
AS 5104 (Actuarial Modeling III)
AS 5108 (Actuarial Analytics)

You can also obtain credit for the Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements, through the following (elective) courses:

RequirementCourses
Accounting & FinanceAS 5106 (Actuarial Corporate Finance)*
EconomicsAS 5105 (Actuarial Economics)*
Mathematical StatisticsNo course**

Note that a minimum grade of B- is required in the course in order to qualify for VEE credit.

(*) Elective
(**) There are numerous ways to earn the VEE credit. Please consult your academic advisor.


What Actuarial Recruiters Care About

Actuarial Exams

Passing actuarial exams is (pretty much) necessary to become an actuary. Most recruiters prefer to hire students who have passed at least one exam for an internship, and at least two exams for a full-time position. A third exam can add some value, but not much. After that, additional exams tend to make less and less of a difference. Passing an actuarial exam takes a lot of skill and dedication. It signals recruiters of your quantitative abilities as well as your commitment to your new career choice. Nonetheless, it is possible to obtain an actuarial internship even without an exam, especially as a first-semester student and if you can convince recruiters of your potential.

GPA

A strong GPA speaks to a well-rounded and dedicated student. Since you won’t have a Masters’ GPA until you complete your first semester, this is less of an issue for you now. A strong undergraduate degree could be a good, temporary substitute. On the other hand, if your undergraduate GPA is low, you may need additional signals to communicate your abilities and diligence (such as passing an actuarial exam, knowledge of industry and company, extracurricular accomplishments, etc.).

Adding Value

Exams & GPA might get you an interview, but from then on, recruiters will largely focus on your ability to add value to their company. That is, can you solve complex, real-world business problems? Your education can prepare you for them in part by giving you tools and ways of thinking that will help you tackle these problems. But every problem you face will be different, and you have to understand very well the business context of the problem, the interests of the various stakeholders, and the external forces that can impact your solution, before your technical tools can be useful.

Here are some ways in which recruiters can assess your readiness for your future career:

Communication skills matter a lot. After all, your solution to a real-world business problem is only as valuable as your ability to communicate it effectively to the relevant stakeholders. Participating actively and consistently in your classes is a good way to become comfortable discussing technical ideas and solutions.

Are you aware of the various roles that actuaries take on? The difference between health, life, and casualty insurance, both in general and with respect to actuarial work? What other people work in insurance, and how do actuaries interact with them? What are the contemporary challenges that actuaries face in the various fields, and what emerging risks may present opportunities for your future employer? Again, nobody expects you to be an expert on these issues, but if you are aware of them, you will be in a better position to add value to the company when you start working there. Therefore, recruiters will likely raise those issues during interviews. There are various resources that help raise your awareness of current issues affecting actuarial work. For example:

  • Follow current news and trends, especially regarding politics and the economy. The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and The Economist are good and reliable sources of information.
  • M. Best provides various insurance services and publications.
  • The CAS Actuarial Review, published by the Casualty Actuarial Society.
  • The Actuary, published by the Society of Actuaries.
  • Follow companies you like on LinkedIn.
  • The weekly meetings of Gamma Iota Sigma (Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00 to 12:50 pm) and the MS/AcSci program (Fridays, 12:00 to 12:50 pm), to learn from guest speakers, including Temple actuarial alumni and insurance executives.

Are you willing to go above and beyond to add value to your firm? Are you excited about the actuarial career path and the opportunities it offers, or are you a minimalist satisfied with a good paycheck? The insurance industry (and the nature of actuarial work) evolves constantly—do you have the motivation to be at the forefront of these changes? A good signal of that is how well you prepare for interviews. Do some background research on the company (e.g. through their web presence, industry publications, media coverage, etc.). This allows you to have a conversation with the recruiters that is more specific to the company’s products and challenges, to describe coherently why you are particularly interested in working for this company, and it puts you in a position to ask meaningful, intelligent questions. If you want to get a head-start in preparing for your interactions with recruiters, have a look at the enclosed list of companies who attended our actuarial career reception last year.

Computer skills, especially Microsoft Excel; sometimes also VBA, Microsoft Access, a programming language such as Python, or a statistical software such as R or SAS. Nobody expects you to be proficient in all (or any) of them, but the more advanced your computer skills are, the better.

Any relevant prior experience can be beneficial for you. In particular, think about how your prior experience (education / work / life) can help you succeed as an actuary and benefit your potential future employer. This can give you as a graduate student an advantage over the undergraduates.

For many companies, it is important to maintain a positive office culture. Therefore, your personality may also be a decision criterion, since actuaries often work in teams and since you will constantly interact with many other people in the office.