Chris Aukland is the managing director of specialist recruitment agency Ambition and is responsible for the growth and management of the Hong Kong business. He has 15 years’ consulting experience in the UK and Asia.
Becoming an actuary is for those who love learning
I decided on a career change in 2013 with the intention of studying part time to become an actuary. I work full time in an unrelated industry. After a year of intense study that almost killed me, I managed to pass the first exam. But realistically, I’m looking at another five years of similar graft with progressively harder exams and I’m really not sure I have the skill or the stamina to become fully qualified. I need to decide whether to press on with the second exam course or quit before I waste more time and energy. What do you suggest I do?
I was once given a great piece of advice: “Achievements mean a great deal more when you pay for them with hard work.” This is very relevant in your case.
Actuaries are highly talented professionals who have completed a series of tough examinations. Becoming an actuary is hard work. However, this is the same of almost any professional career requiring further academic study, so I highly recommend you are 100 per cent sure before making any decision about changing your career track.
One thing I foresee that could possibly be a concern as to whether this is the right career for you is that actuaries tend to enjoy learning – it’s an ongoing process during their careers. They enjoy solving complicated problems and this requires highly specialised skills, including mathematics, calculus, statistics and probability, as well as possessing very keen analytical, project management, and problem-solving skills.
A good actuary also has excellent business sense and solid grounding in finance, accounting and economics.
The important question you need to ask yourself now is whether a career as an actuary is what you want to do in the long term. If the answer is “yes”, then stick with it, work hard and if you manage to get through the year, you will make it.
I never like to recommend giving up as it can all too easily become a habit. However, if the answer to the question is “no” and it doesn’t sound like what you want to do in the long term, then I would suggest you reevaluate and look at your options for alternative careers.
Take the time to match your skills, personality and aspirations to a potential role, as this is crucial in finding a career that will suit you.
Working in a career you love greatly increases your chances of long-term career success and satisfaction, so it is important to make the right decision now as to whether becoming an actuary is what you want to do.
Ask yourself what careers would make use of your key strengths and abilities, but also give you the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge in the areas you want to develop. Good luck!