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Old 04-18-2018, 09:56 AM
justinwr justinwr is offline
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Default 36 YO Career Changer Seeking Advice - FM or CFA I

I'm a 36 year old career changer who did blue collar refinery work my whole life (which I hated) before recently going back to get a bachelor's in stats. Now I'm a few months away from a master's in finance and about to take the p exam for the second time (got a 5 last time and have been working really hard since then, so I expect to pass). I'm a full-time graduate student at the moment.

My questions are:

After I graduate and (hopefully) have one exam under my belt, what are my odds of finding an entry level job really? I live in Houston, and there are several companies here that hire actuarial analysts.

If one, or even two exams isn't enough to make people consider hiring me at my age, should I hold off on going straight into the FM exam and do the CFA level I instead? It's basically the same material as my master's and I think it would cast a wider net - maybe help me get a somewhat related job while I keep working on actuarial exams. Or is this a waste of time?

Any input is welcome. I'm new to this world.
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:59 AM
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Hydraskull Hydraskull is offline
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If you want to be an actuary, take FM. Two exams and an interesting work history could get you in at AIG.

Otherwise, CFA1 will allow you to cast a wider net as far as job opportunities go, but probably at lower pay.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:17 AM
DaveMeggett DaveMeggett is offline
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It's been my experience that a majority of actuaries (myself included) started out as interns, so if you are willing to take lower wages to begin with I think that could be your entry point.

If you are a good fit and people know your story, I think in most cases you could parlay that into a full time role within a few months, or at least be in better position to apply to full time roles elsewhere.

Final point- continuing to pass exams is critical throughout the process, so don't be shy about really going for it. For example, if you pass exam P in May, then take FM in August and exam MLC/3L/3F/whatever it's called in October. It sounds like a lot but it's actually doable. 6-8 weeks of good study is more than enough for the prelims if you are dedicated.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:23 AM
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With your education AND hands-on (literally) experience in refineries, I would expect you could combine those into a more lucrative Houston career than an actuary.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:24 AM
nonlnear nonlnear is offline
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With your education AND hands-on (literally) experience in refineries, I would expect you could combine those into a more lucrative Houston career than an actuary.
This.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:52 AM
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With your education AND hands-on (literally) experience in refineries, I would expect you could combine those into a more lucrative Houston career than an actuary.
I agree.

Also, are you tied down to Houston? There are not a lot of opportunities for actuarial work in such a large city.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:23 AM
justinwr justinwr is offline
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With your education AND hands-on (literally) experience in refineries, I would expect you could combine those into a more lucrative Houston career than an actuary.
Wow, thanks for all the great responses everyone, and so quickly! Woodrow, I appreciate the vote of confidence. I've explored ideas along those lines. The short answer is that it's not just about money for me. I have a small business on the side already for supplemental income. I guess I just see the actuarial thing as a challenge I can't let go of, to be honest.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:26 AM
justinwr justinwr is offline
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I agree.

Also, are you tied down to Houston? There are not a lot of opportunities for actuarial work in such a large city.
I am tied to Houston pretty tightly. My wife has a career here, and all of her family is here. Plus I like it here, except for the weather and traffic of course.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:28 AM
justinwr justinwr is offline
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Originally Posted by Hydraskull View Post
If you want to be an actuary, take FM. Two exams and an interesting work history could get you in at AIG.

Otherwise, CFA1 will allow you to cast a wider net as far as job opportunities go, but probably at lower pay.
I would absolutely love to work at AIG. I could see the AIG tower from some of my classrooms when I was in night school for my undergrad. I would always think how nice it would be to work there during the day instead of the refinery I was at.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:29 AM
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I am tied to Houston pretty tightly. My wife has a career here, and all of her family is here. Plus I like it here, except for the weather and traffic of course.
If that is the case, I suggest going the CFA route, not the actuarial route. You have limited actuarial job prospects in Houston and significantly more opportunity in a financial analyst role.
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