FAQs by Fresh Actuary Aspirants

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About the Author-
Ravi Vyas
(Student member of Institute of Actuaries of India and Institute and faculty of Actuaries, UK. Mentoring Actuarial Students since last 4+ years in Mumbai and Pune.)
I frequently come across some common questions by Students. I have tried to articulate them here. These are my personal views and any contradiction is most welcome for discussion. I have shared my thoughts through various articles before, i am just summarising them here. Previous articles can be found on this website.
Question: Are Actuarial Exams so difficult that it’s impossible to complete all 15 papers?
My views: They are difficult but not impossible to pass all 15 exams. There are people who have completed this ‘not so easy’ task. We are valued only because we go through all this rigourous learning. It takes time and consistent efforts to clear all Exams.You need to have lot of patience.
Question : How many papers are required to get a well paying job?
My views: Do not expect your first job to be well paying. Initial time is to learn practical things. Only once you get some experience and clear good number of papers, say 10-12, your job automatically becomes well paying. Regarding number of papers required to get first job, there is no specific answer to this. It depends very much on the industry you are planning to work for. If you plan to start your career with KPOs, they generally hire people with 0-3 papers. Insurance companies or consulting firm do not have any such requirement, they prefer more papers. Generally 4-5 papers and graduation is good enough to start looking for a job.
Question: There are no vacancies. Is this profession not entertaining Freshers any more? 
My views: Well, answer is not so simple for this. Let me explain in detail.
No, that’s no completely true. You should know this before you enter Actuarial Profession that it is a niche profession and less umber of companies companies hire Actuaries. There are around 55 insurance companies in India and some consulting firm and KPOs who hire Actuaries. Total number of companies in India who require Actuaries are not more than 100 according to me. Whenever work arise, generally experienced candidates are required to perform them. Only when load with such professionals increase, they hire Freshers to share the work load. Very few projects may be performed by fresh candidates. So demand is naturally less.
No one is liable to give you a job just because you have cleared exams. Even if all the companies hire 4-5 fresher’s every year (which is a number on higher side for many companies) there would be only 400-500 vacancies in a year while Students registered in institute are in 1000s. So it’s highly competitive. You have to sell yourself to the company, so better acquire skills which companies think will help in high efficiency. Learn softwares which companies use. Get knowledge of laws which are required like Accounting standards relating to employee benefits valuation, insurance act, IRDA act, Actuaries act etc. This may demonstrate you have excellent knowledge and need not be trained like a usual fresh candidates. Why will company reject you if you have all this “useful” skills. Vacancies do arise frequently but you may not be the right candidate for the company to hire. Stop complaining and start working on yourself.
With increased awareness of the profession I strongly believe more vacancies will come in ‘future’ as Actuaries start exploring non traditional industries. Competition is always going to stay, given our demography. And this statement is my personal belief, may not be 100% true. I assume this will definitely happen.
Anything else to take care of?
Most important of all, your RESUME! I have seen a very bad trend among fresh university pass outs to copy and edit resumes of friends. This is not good. Employers are smarter than you! They look for people with high IQ because of nature of work we do. If you can’t even write your own CV, you definitely can’t easily learn to write an actuarial report. So improve your writing skills as well and do some research and prepare your CVs yourself. This may take few days, but for saving this few days, do not let your past 18 years of education go in vain. Do it yourself, make it better and more interesting for employer.
Also, your communication skill should be more than just excellent. Learn to speak effectively, it should create impression on HR team.
Thank You.
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