Which job to transition from full-time tutor to first actuary job

I am currently a full-time math tutor with a small tutoring business (about five years old). I make about 20,000 USD per year from it. I have a bachelor’s degree in math and am currently studying for Exam P/1.

I was thinking of applying for jobs that use Excel or data analysis or something as a better way to transition to an actuarial job, but not sure if that’s a good idea. And if so, then which job specifically given that I have limited professional Excel or data analysis experience.

My only Excel experience at this point comes from the weekly assignments I had in my financial mathematics course (I took this course to prepare for Exam FM but did not yet take it). I’ve also used R in an STAM course.

I am in my thirties if it matters.

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Hello. welcome!
I’m a little rusty on career advice here, but the short version is this:
Pass Exam P/1 (and FM), then apply for Actuarial jobs.

I certainly would suggest any job that pays more than what you are making now, which, while “full-time” is probably only about 10 hours a week. (Math check: 40 weeks a year means about $500 per week, at $50/hour is 10 hours a week. Ish.) You could even keep your tutor business as supplemental income. But you’ll need hours set aside for studying for the exams.

Your being in your 30’s will be a challenge, and you’ll have to convince interviewers you are better than the other candidates.


Yes, money is tight. The tutoring feels full time during the semesters since it is very time consuming to prepare exercises (calc 1/2/3, differential equations, linear algebra), but money is still tight. So I thought perhaps a better paying job that would provide some technical experience with Excel or something might be smart.

Q: when will you be taking Exam 1/P or FM?

Yes, find a job that will give you Excel experience. Downside is that these jobs are more likely to REQUIRE Excel experience, because no one wants to train anyone anymore.

I will be ready for Exam P in July at the earliest, I think. I have made one pass through the ACTEX Broverman manual but without ever having taken probability in college (I was a pure math major in college). So I couldn’t see the “why” so as to enable me to solve more novel problems or extend the concepts that easily. I am now splitting my study time between a college probability course and the ASM Weishaus manual. I am currently studying 2 hours per day and plan to increase that to up to 4 hours per day within the next 30 days.

I have been through the Finan Exam FM manual once. After Exam P I will probably need another 6 weeks to be ready for FM. I find this material a lot simpler.

I have joined a freelance website to advertise myself for beginning Excel projects, but no bites yet.

I’d worry less about what experience you can demonstrate in using Excel for “professional stuff”. Your “first job” on the actuarial side is going to be “look at these files and update them accordingly.” You’ll get a good handle on learning what’s needed as far as Excel.

As pointed out, your bigger challenge is what you’re going to bring to the table. Emphasize communication skills (to be a successful tutor, you gotta have this).

Both P&C and L/H companies will take on folks like yourself. Your other question would be which side of this fence you prefer.

FWIW, I was in your position about 20 years ago and got on well enough. One caveat: I had some inside connections that helped make the process shorter.

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I lean towards P&C and reinsurance but I can’t quite figure out why. I find health insurance less attractive in part because it seems to be used as a health plan or something, and treated less as a tool to manage risk for yourself. But on the actuarial side I’m not sure yet what the major differences are except that P&C has shorter term policies, is probably harder to model, and has less to play with so to speak in terms of the fine print / creating products.

I envision myself more as a consultant because I like going deep into projects. But I’m speaking without experience, of course.

I started out using Excel in temporary data entry jobs. I see that indeed.com still has quite a few of them.
The temping agency I was with had free online tutorials in Excel, so I worked my way through them and passed their Excel test, which satisfied them that I could handle a temp job. It just so happened that it was at an insurance company.

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You are correct that most P&C products have a much smaller time horizon for pricing considerations (usually a year or less) while life products have a much longer time horizon (5, 10, 20, and end-of-life time horizons). For the latter, modeling rates of return (i.e., interest rate) is a bigger piece of the puzzle (claim amount is generally fixed, but the timing of that claim is unknown). For the former, modeling both occurrence (less of an issue than for life products) and the amount (bigger piece for this puzzle) are the core issues.

But in both cases, segmentation of risks for additional price points is where a lot of current work is done for one company to gain an advantage. The material in the above paragraph is going to be “industry standard” in terms of how it’s generally done (or at least as a baseline to work from). But risk segmentation isn’t going to be “industry standard” (although there will be some principles to consider) and is where many companies work hard to differentiation themselves competitively (or look to “copy” from other companies).

FWIW, health is going to fall in between the P&C and Life “extremes,” but is often heavily regulated so there may not be that much a company can do to differentiate itself in the market. (But some people get their proverbial jollies off of following, interpreting, and figuring out how to comply to these regulations and be “competitive” at it.)

But you can be a “consultant” at a P&C major carrier (Allstate, Progressive, State Farm, etc.) as well. But in both cases, you’ll have to get your feet wet, and starting with a primary insurer is likely to get you better exam support (as in, you can actually take advantage of it while still earning a living and advancing all at the same time). I’ve known many who go this route and then go into consulting once they have a good handle on the industry as a whole.

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