Thanks to the University’s excellent reputation and strong partnerships with the community, Drake students studying actuarial science in the College of Business and Public Administration are graduating with several job offers on the table. In fact, they are landing top jobs, according to careercast.com, which rated actuary the top job for 2013.
“Actuarial science is a niche field,” says Rahul Parsa, professor of actuarial science and statistics at Drake. “Prospective actuaries need excellent math skills and a good understanding of business, which makes it difficult.”
Essentially, actuaries are exceptional mathematicians who analyze data. Most actuaries work for insurance companies or banks, but the need for actuaries is expanding. Very few people have the skills necessary to be an actuary, which is why it’s not unusual for their salaries to run into the six figures.
“Drake students can start right in the first semester preparing for and taking actuarial exams, which are very difficult,” says Parsa. “Our students are better-prepared, not just in the subject area but also on the business side as well. The curriculum gives them necessary mathematical skills, but it also gives them an understanding of the business side of the profession. The program is proud to have several alumni who have become successful executives.”
Drake has one of the largest and oldest undergraduate actuarial science programs in the country. Tess Wicks, BN’13, says it’s difficult to find an undergraduate actuarial science program offered through a business school.
“A lot of people have been graduating with math degrees and then deciding to be an actuary,” says Wicks. “At Drake, students are able to get the experience necessary to succeed in the work world right away. And, we also gain a solid business background. I had to take core business classes in addition to my classes that were specific to actuarial science.”
Drake is also unique because of its connection to Des Moines. Wicks says it’s common for students to intern in the Des Moines area. She participated in four internships during her undergardaute career.
The actuarial science program hosts its own career fair where students have the opportunity to meet with actuaries currently working in the field.
“It’s nice to be able to talk with real actuaries, not just recruiters,” says Wicks. “You can actually relate and talk with them about this specialized area of study.”
The actuarial science program at Drake is not just known locally. It has an international reputation of excellence.
“Drake is known for its actuarial program all over the world,” says Parsa. “We get a stream of students from Malaysia, Africa, and other places across the globe. It’s been that way for a long time.”
Wicks says she hadn’t heard of actuarial science until her mom mentioned it to her. She was planning to study math education but shifted gears when she learned more about the field of actuarial science.
“I know that a lot of people find math very difficult and unattractive, and they see it as a boring career choice,” says Wicks. “But there are so many different areas of a business that you can go into with an actuarial science degree. More and more opportunities are opening up.”