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  #21  
Old 02-14-2018, 12:10 PM
ARodOmaha ARodOmaha is offline
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Originally Posted by expatmath View Post
Hi everyone. Iím a math teacher in my mid-30s who currently lives outside of the US. I have been teaching now for just over 8 years and would now like to pursue work as an actuary. There are many posts regarding switching careers, so I know it is possible even at my age. However, I was hoping that someone could advise me as to what sort of timeline I should be looking at in regards to taking the preliminary exams.

I have both a B.A. and M.S. in Mathematics (concentration in mathematical statistics) and currently teach Business Calculus and Statistics at a local community college. Due to my current teaching contract, I cannot accept an entry-level actuarial position until the summer of 2020. That said, I have taken practice exams for both the P and FM tests, and only missed a few questions on each. I am confident that I could pass these as early as the next testing dates. However, I am concerned that having that much of a gap between the first two exams , the IFM exam (which would probably take me till Spring 2019 to study for), and when I can look for a job (mid-2020) would reflect poorly on me as a candidate. Does this make any sense, or am I just overthinking things? Should I take all three exams closer to when Iíd be able to look for a job, or is there no harm in spreading them out over the next 2 years?

Thanks so much.
I have a similar background so I'll give you my perspective. I taught high school math for 9.5 years and for the last few years I wondered what else I could do in my life to reach my full potential. I have a bachelors in math education and a master's in math. It's difficult to go straight from teaching to an actuarial role since most companies would see you as a risk; they don't know if you'll stick with it and if you would be any good.

There's few ways to go wrong, but I think my path ended up as an extremely good choice. I went from teaching to being a credit risk analyst for a large credit card company. I learned how to use Excel and SQL with the data and gave presentations. In the meantime I passed P and FM. As soon as I passed my second exam I applied for a job and got hired right away. The analyst position allowed me to put a lot on my resume. I had SQL and data skills from those six months that many of the other actuarial analysts never acquired.

Another benefit of going from teaching to an actuarial position is in studying. I was already used to getting up early and staying up late grading papers, creating quizzes and exams, etc. So when I switched jobs I just kept up the same daily schedule, just studying instead. (Just be sure to purchase actuarial study materials and not solely rely on your math background.) That's why I've passed the last 4 exams in a row. My initial salary was lower than when I left teaching, but after two years I'm already making 40% more.
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  #22  
Old 02-14-2018, 12:33 PM
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Derek @ TIA Derek @ TIA is offline
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Hi expat,

People will obviously have all different experiences and opinions, but to answer your original question, I don't think there's any need to wait to take the initial exams. However, you do want to be careful not to overdo it because there are literally some entry-level candidates that come in with too many exams, and I've seen companies not really consider those candidates because they may be viewed as potentially being too expensive for an entry-level role because salary does often follow exam results very closely.

I haven't been in the hiring market recently, so I do recommend you continue to check on other posts to see things, but I think if you show good progress/aptitude on the first couple of exams, along with a strong resume and good communication skills, that should put you in a good spot.

Also, like someone said above, be aware that some jobs do exist that you can apply and get hired right away, but more of the entry-level jobs will be aligned with typical graduation schedules, so you'd expect to start interviewing late in 2019 for the summer 2020 roles.
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  #23  
Old 02-14-2018, 02:16 PM
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Vorian Atreides Vorian Atreides is offline
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Originally Posted by angryleslieknope View Post
I wouldn't count on this. I started looking for actuarial jobs in fall 2016 after two years in a job that has a lot of overlapping skills (think analyst type thing, but outside insurance). I double majored in math and econ and have a master's in econ. I had taken two exams and had two VEEs done. And it took me like six months to even get an in person interview.

Although, admittedly, one of my issues was that I was coming off a salary that was a bit high for an EL actuary and people didn't seem to believe that I was willing to take a slight pay cut. That may not be an issue coming out of teaching.
WRT the bolded . . . working 2 years in a job <> working 8 years in a field.

As already pointed out, the biggest question the OP will have regarding his situation is "why change (now)?". Having a good answer to that, those 8 years will work in the OP's favor far more than just 2 years in a job; even if said job has "overlapping skills".
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  #24  
Old 02-14-2018, 10:45 PM
expatmath expatmath is offline
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Originally Posted by angryleslieknope View Post
Although, admittedly, one of my issues was that I was coming off a salary that was a bit high for an EL actuary and people didn't seem to believe that I was willing to take a slight pay cut. That may not be an issue coming out of teaching.
This is one of my major worries when it comes to an interview. From what I've read, the median EL starting salary with 3 exams is right about what I'm making now. With the caveat that my salary is tax-free due to living overseas. I will actually be taking a fairly hefty pay cut to pursue this career, at least initially.
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  #25  
Old 02-14-2018, 11:30 PM
expatmath expatmath is offline
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Originally Posted by Derek @ TIA View Post
However, you do want to be careful not to overdo it because there are literally some entry-level candidates that come in with too many exams, and I've seen companies not really consider those candidates because they may be viewed as potentially being too expensive for an entry-level role because salary does often follow exam results very closely.
This is a very good point. In your opinion, is the sweet spot two (P and FM) or three (P, FM, IFM) exams?
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  #26  
Old 02-16-2018, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by expatmath View Post
This is a very good point. In your opinion, is the sweet spot two (P and FM) or three (P, FM, IFM) exams?
Honestly, I'd confirm that question with others in some of the career posts, but I would think that 3 would be perfect. (And like someone else said, maybe do the 3rd one closer to the time that you're actually applying for jobs, so it's a little fresher on your resume.)

As everyone else said, just be ready to answer the obvious questions about why you're changing careers, why you want to be an actuary, why you are truly committed to being an actuary (as opposed to just thinking you want to try it out because you can make a little more money), and talk about any gaps in timing in your resume. I've taken years off to simply travel during my career, but you just need to be ready for those questions and able to explain them.
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  #27  
Old 02-16-2018, 09:55 AM
expatmath expatmath is offline
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Originally Posted by Derek @ TIA View Post
Honestly, I'd confirm that question with others in some of the career posts, but I would think that 3 would be perfect. (And like someone else said, maybe do the 3rd one closer to the time that you're actually applying for jobs, so it's a little fresher on your resume.)

As everyone else said, just be ready to answer the obvious questions about why you're changing careers, why you want to be an actuary, why you are truly committed to being an actuary (as opposed to just thinking you want to try it out because you can make a little more money), and talk about any gaps in timing in your resume. I've taken years off to simply travel during my career, but you just need to be ready for those questions and able to explain them.
I appreciate the advice. I think I'll aim for my P and FM exams in the next 6 months, finish my VEEs, and then go for the IFM right before I start applying for jobs in October/November 2019. I will actually make less money as an EL actuary than I do as a teacher (odd, I know), but hopefully I can adequately explain why I'm willing to take that financial loss during the interview process.
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  #28  
Old 02-16-2018, 10:24 AM
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manaknight14 manaknight14 is offline
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Originally Posted by expatmath View Post
This is a very good point. In your opinion, is the sweet spot two (P and FM) or three (P, FM, IFM) exams?
Speaking as someone who was a career changer myself, the "sweet spot" is higher for us than for your typical math or act sci grad coming straight out of school. I would place it at at least three exams, but I know that with the changes in the exam structure it's hard to go beyond that unless you have a very strong preference for either the SOA or CAS route. I would definitely go for IFM after the other two, but there's no reason not to apply for jobs in the interim as well. And don't worry about having a gap in your exam history. Assuming you pass, you're looking at about a six month difference between IFM and the other two exams, which is standard fare in my experience. I had a nearly two year gap in my own exam progress, and it wasn't an issue because I had a reasonable explanation for why I had stopped taking exams for a while, and once I resumed I passed three exams in rapid succession.
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