CAS Profile: Jason Nikowitz

My name is Jason Nikowitz.  I have an associate degree from Harper College, a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, and a master’s degree from North Central College.  I currently work at Zurich North America as an AVP Actuary and Team Lead.  Prior to transitioning to actuarial work, I taught high school mathematics for five years.  I am a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS), a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), and a Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics (CSPA).

Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
A career in the insurance industry can be rewarding experience that combines applied analytics and problem solving in a way that benefits society.  Risk is an unavoidable part of life, and at its core the insurance industry quantifies that risk in a way that motivates businesses and individuals to reduce and mitigate their exposure to it.  It provides a method for those participating in risky endeavors to pay their fair share.  In exchange, insurance companies promise to provide support and indemnification if said risk manifests into a tangible loss.  Actuaries are the backbone of the quantification of risk; without them insurance companies couldn’t confidently keep these promises.

Why did you become an actuary?
While I loved teaching for five years, I decided I wanted to pursue a career that offered more opportunities to apply higher levels of mathematics and problem solving.  To be honest, I was also drawn in by the exam process.  I consider myself a life-long learner, so to be able to switch to a career that supported a formal learning process like the exams do was a big plus.  Icing on the cake was that I could apply my programing skills as well, which was something I had been developing as a hobby.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
Property and casualty insurances interested me specifically because of the unique products they offer and challenges they face in analyzing and supporting these products.  There’s so much to learn in this industry, and it seems the possibilities are only increasing.

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Specifically, students can explore the exam process and, after preparing adequately, even attempt an exam.  The exams aren’t everything, but they are a big part of the early stages of this career so it’s important to be on board with them and the commitment they’ll entail.  In general, they can work on building their math, statistics, and analytical skills.

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