Actuarial science a growing choice among top achievers

2015-12-30 16:54


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Cape Town - Actuarial Science is an increasingly popular career choice for the country's top Independent Examination Board (IEB) achievers.

That's according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa (Assa), a professional body with just over 1 200 registered members.

The Department of Higher Education regards the science of calculating financial risk as a scarce skill, but that may be about to change thanks to starting salaries of between R250 000 to R300 000 a year and growing opportunities.

"Fortunately it is always attractive to top performers, especially those with top marks in mathematics and science," said Assa president Roseanne Murphy da Silva.

A top achiever herself and a former dux at Redhill in Sandton in 1989 with six distinctions, Murphy da Silva said maths and science boffins were drawn to the career path.

This was because of the range of opportunities that the career could lead to, not just in insurance and medical aid, but also in banking, health and other sectors involving financial planning in the economy.

"It attracts good students because they do want a challenge and this job revolves around problem solving and analysing scenarios."

But, she warned, the course was extremely challenging and could be a shock to high achievers who didn't know what it was like to fail a test or to not grasp a concept.

Students needed staying power, and to not "beat themselves up" if they battled with a concept.

After her own first exams, Murphy Da Silva said she ended up wondering what she was thinking even trying to do the degree.

"I questioned what I was doing there in the first place," she said, adding that she fretted that she was wasting her time and the money of the company that had paid for her bursary.

But she pressed on and did her four years of payback work for her bursary, as well as the additional work requirements for her final registration as an actuary.

"It is important to know that it is not just for maths boffins. The candidate must have good communication skills and a good understanding of people's needs. They must also have softer skills."

Read more on:    education  |  matric 2015

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