Robert Hark is an Actuarial Analyst at Applied Underwriters. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Montana Tech and a Master of Science from the University of California, Davis.
Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
If you have strong mathematical and analytical skills, and you would like a well-paying, satisfying career in an industry that utilizes those skills, then a career in the insurance industry may be a good fit. Additionally, the actuarial profession is expected to have faster-than-average job growth: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of actuarial jobs is expected to increase by 22% between 2016 and 2026.
Why did you become an actuary?
After I graduated from Montana Tech, I enrolled in the PhD Statistics program at UC Davis. During my time there, I discovered that conducting abstract statistics research did not appeal to me as much as applying my knowledge of statistics to concrete, real-world problems. I had done extensive research about the actuarial profession, and I liked the idea of a professional career that would allow me to use my mathematics and statistics skills while developing my business acumen in a business environment. Accordingly, I left the program with a Master’s degree and pivoted my focus to the actuarial profession, and I have not looked back.
What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
Honestly, when I was interviewing for my first actuarial position, I did not have a strong preference one way or the other regarding whether to pursue a Property and Casualty career or a Life and Health career. I accepted a job offer at Applied Underwriters, which is a Property and Casualty company focusing on Workers Compensation, and I fell in love with the work. I am now decidedly pursuing my ACAS credential (and then my FCAS credential).
What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Once you start working full time, you will have less free time than you did in university, and it becomes more difficult to schedule the study time required to pass the exams for your credentials. Therefore, I would advise students to take at least the first two preliminary actuarial exams, 1(P) and 2(FM), as well as to take the VEE courses while still in school. This will give students a head start on the exams and will also help students produce a strong and attractive resume. Additionally, I would learn as much computer programming knowledge as possible, including languages such as SQL, R, and SAS. Companies are increasingly interested in candidates with solid programing skills.