So you want to be an actuary…

June 5th, 2005 by Julie Ferguson points to an amusing survey on Actuarial Outpost about career choices: Machinist or Actuary? Perhaps I should qualify that to say that it’s amusing if you work in insurance ;-) It brought to mind an actuarial jokes website that I chanced on some years ago when there was precious little in the way of insurance posted on the web. It’s fun to see that not only is this “pioneer” site still up, but that Jerry Tuttle has been nurturing it along since at least 1998 and the site now boasts more than 150 jokes. For a light bit of weekend reading, here’s a sample:

  • An actuary, an underwriter, and an insurance salesperson are riding in a car. The salesperson has his foot on the gas, the underwriter has his foot on the brake, and the actuary is looking out the back window telling them where to go.
  • What is the difference between an introverted actuary and an extroverted actuary? An introverted actuary stares at his own feet during a conversation, while an extroverted one stares at the other person’s feet.
  • An underwriter takes his two actuaries into a restaurant. The waiter asks the underwriter what he would like to eat, and the underwriter says, “I’ll have the steak.” Then the waiter asks the underwriter, “And for your vegetables?” The underwriter replies, “They’ll have the steak too.”

Now it’s all well and good to take potshots at the actuaries among us (no doubt they have amusing stories about marketers), but in workers comp, we depend on them for ratemaking, reserve adequacy, and providing models to predict the impact of any legislative changes. For those who would actually like to learn more about the role that an actuary plays and what the job entails, visit the actuarial entry on Wikipedia or the Bureau of Labor Statistics page on actuaries. Also, a few professional associations jointly sponsor the site Be An Actuary, which offers quite a bit in the way of career advice.