Getting the qualifications
For many of the specialisations described, the eligibility is a bachelor’s degree, while for some, it is a master’s degree. Most reputed colleges in major cities offer B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Maths and Statistics, but there are some institutions that are in a league of their own (see table). As you may have guessed, they are also highly competitive.
What does it take to pursue a career in Maths or Statistics?
Beyond aptitude (scoring 100/100)! you definitely need to have a passion for numbers. “I discovered my love for Maths when I was in Grade Eight. I suddenly found myself spending all my time solving Maths problems. So, I think that beyond numerical ability, you need to be fascinated by numbers,” states Aparna Iyengar. Adds Vinita Sivaramakrishnan, an Assistant Manager with a leading BPO in Bangalore who works in the area of Financial Analytics, “Analytical ability, in addition to numerical ability will equip an individual for a Maths- or Statistics-based career.” Vinitha obtained her master’s degree in Operations Research from the London School of Economics, after a bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Chennai.
In today’s world, with large quantities of data being handled in every field, maths and computer applications often go hand in hand. So, knowledge of Information Technology is definitely desirable for careers in maths and statistics.
Also, inter disciplinary career options have opened up – for example, maths-bio-computers is bioinformatics, maths-finance-computers is financial math statistics-finance is actuarial science and so on. So do nurture your interests in subjects other than Maths too – this may come in quite handy.
What do you think an aspiring actuary should be prepared for?
Apart from numerical and analytical ability, it takes perseverance and hard work to be in this field. It is a long-drawn out process; the set of 15 exams take anywhere between four and 11 years.
You need to make a long term commitment; there are many who start by taking four or five exams, and when they do not clear some, they feel discouraged. To someone not used to failing in an exam, it is a huge setback, but it has to be overcome. I know at least 25 people who have taken the first few exams and then quit. Also, actuarial work is not a fast paced career. But it comes with a lot of respect.
Your comments on the opportunities in the field.