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  #1  
Old 09-07-2009, 12:02 AM
ilovesocal ilovesocal is offline
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Default Actuary vs Accountant (with CPA)

I don't think there has been a thread created comparing these two (I did a search and while there are some posts here and there mentioning the two, there isn't anything dedicated to this topic from my scouring), so I was wondering, what career do you think is better in terms of:

1. How interesting the job is
2. Money making potential
3. Future demand/stability during recessions
4. Difficulty breaking into the industry/moving up once you're there
5. Flexibility to work wherever you want (by wherever you want, I mean most big cities. I don't even care about rural areas)

It seems a lot of accountants on other forums are miserable and wish they were actuaries, but a lot of actuaries on here seem to be disgruntled as well, so yeah. Also, all of the above is just generally speaking. It obviously varies from case to case.

thanks
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:26 AM
cnieves7 cnieves7 is offline
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I think there's no comparison between an actuary and an accountant, is not personal, is just... different, sorry accountants
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Old 09-07-2009, 12:54 AM
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actuarial science and accounting are both lucrative careers. Both are highly in demand, and i see both of these jobs growing, even in a recession, because of the laws that requires actuarial or accounting skills. There are a ton of CPA, but not many Credentialed actuaries. Therefore, it is easier to move up in rank if you can pass your actuarial exams as oppose to CPA (whose exam is a lot shorter and easier, which is why there are so many of them). I have a friend who is a CPA, and hates his jobs since he works 60+ hour weeks. I work way less than him, enjoy my job, and make much more then him..... and it never gets old to rub it in his face. hahaha
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Old 09-08-2009, 01:38 PM
ilovesocal ilovesocal is offline
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bump.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovesocal View Post
1. How interesting the job is
2. Money making potential
3. Future demand/stability during recessions
4. Difficulty breaking into the industry/moving up once you're there
5. Flexibility to work wherever you want (by wherever you want, I mean most big cities. I don't even care about rural areas)
I can only speak for public accountants:

1. Depends on the person. Public accounting does not involve much problem solving.
2. I would say on average actuaries have the potential to make more.
3. I would think they are equal. Public accounting is not as stable as industry but one can always leave public accounting and find a job in industry.
4. I would say accounting is harder to enter due to the education and work experience required by most states.
5. Probably the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovesocal View Post
It seems a lot of accountants on other forums are miserable and wish they were actuaries,
The grass is always greener on the other side. The "work/life balance" in public accounting can be very demanding.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:51 PM
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y not compare CFA vs FSA? They are much more related, ain't they?
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovesocal View Post
1. How interesting the job is
2. Money making potential
3. Future demand/stability during recessions
4. Difficulty breaking into the industry/moving up once you're there
5. Flexibility to work wherever you want (by wherever you want, I mean most big cities. I don't even care about rural areas)
1. Depends on the person. There is potential for interest and boredom in each.
2. Both have potentially very good incomes. I think there are more low paying accounting jobs than actuarial jobs, but I think that is mainly a function of how much more accounting activity there is. There are smaller scale jobs available in accounting for people who wish to work part time, or seasonally, or in a low stress environment. That's a lot harder to find in the actuarial field. But if you are looking at income potential for full time top performers, they are comparable.
3. Actuarial work is probably a little more stable in recessions, though not immune from layoffs by ANY means. Future demand? Who knows. The world will probably always need accountants. It is conceivable that in the distant future the private insurance mechanism could be replaced with some other way to handle risk avoidance, and then actuarial work as we know it would probably go away, or more likely evolve to something that we would not currently recognize. I don't see this occuring on a huge scale in my lifetime, but you can see it to some extent in pensions, and there is some risk in the health field.
4. Supply and demand balances are moving targets. It's hard to say. My gut feel is that right now it's easier to break into accounting and to move up as an actuary. But that sort of thing changes.
5. Actuarial work is DEFINITELY not as geographically flexible as accounting. However, since you only want to work in a large city, the differential is not as pronounced. Still, there are certain large cities (e.g. San Francisco) that have relatively few actuarial positions. With accounting, there are pretty much jobs in every major port, though perhaps not as lucrative as you might wish.
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Old 09-08-2009, 05:22 PM
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An average actuary makes more than an average accountant, but remember there's a built-in selection bias of the exam process in the actuarial field, plus it's soooo much smaller. I'd imagine the top 20,000 accountants compare quite favorably to actuaries in terms of earnings.
I'd also go so far as to say the average actuary would make an above-average accountant assuming they put in the time. I know a few people who more or less washed out of the actuarial profession and became pretty successful in other endeavors simply because the average IQ of their competition was so much lower.
Also a CPA is a lot more portable. There are wide geographical areas where there simply aren't many actuarial jobs to be had.
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Old 09-12-2009, 04:45 PM
Chopin-Lover Chopin-Lover is offline
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I am wondering, is it possible to break into the accounting field without an accounting degree? Can, say, a liberal arts major take the CPA exams and become an accountant?
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  #10  
Old 07-23-2013, 10:44 PM
UFActuary UFActuary is offline
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A liberal arts major can become eligible to sit the CPA Exam after meeting the required number of accounting courses, business, economics, finance, stat courses required in the state where the person is seeking the CPA license. For CPA you are licensed by a state board of accountancy and each state is different.

Florida requires a lot of upper level accounting courses
New York requires fewer but only counts courses with a GPA earned level at or above 3.0

California just requires equivalent of a B.S degree in Accounting to sit the CPA exam, but 2 years of audit/accounting experience working is required for the CPA to be made official
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