Actuarial Science

Actuarial science is undoubtedly one of the more lucrative courses in Kenya, especially in the recent past. As much as it is not as common as medicine, law, engineering, and the likes, there has been an increase in the number of students opting to go study the course in institutions of higher learning.

The course is relatively young given that it was first offered in 2000 by The University of Nairobi with the other universities quickly following suit. However, the number of people with a clear idea of what the course entails is quite low.

So who is an actuary? According to Wikipedia, an actuary is a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty.

They assemble and analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost of the occurrence of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability or loss of property.

According to Wikipedia, an actuary is a business professional who deals with the measurement and management of risk and uncertainty. They assemble and analyze data to estimate the probability and likely cost of the occurrence of an event such as death, sickness, injury, disability or loss of property.

This given, actuaries are key players in any industry that deals with certain levels of risk and in the current times, this means they are needed in every field.

However, due to the limited knowledge of the actuarial profession, most graduates end up working in insurance companies. This is the most common field although actuaries can work in other fields such as risk management and even healthcare industries.

Although students have been studying the course since 2000, with the number of students gradually rising annually, it will perhaps come as a shock to many that the number of qualified actuaries in Kenya is around 15 with less than 35000 in the entire world. So the question arises, why are there such few actuaries?

Well, an undergraduate degree in actuarial science does not make you an actuary. In fact, you are just about as qualified as a graduate with a degree in Bachelor of Commerce. To be an actuary, one has to take a series of difficult examinations ranging from 12-15 papers depending on the examination body.

It is perhaps the low possibility of passing these examinations (a probability of 0.4) that many students opt not to take them. These examinations are also quite expensive regardless of the examination bodies.

Many students fresh out of high school may rush to take pursue actuarial science because of all the pride that comes with it. But, it is important to research what exactly it entails.

A love for mathematics alone will not suffice, trust me. Actuarial science is tough, and although it mostly comprises of mathematics, other skills such as computer programming will be needed.

KCSE top performers believe that such a course alongside its worthy competitors is just what they need, but just because you scored an A in mathematics does not mean that it will be easy for you.

You will have to put in hours and hours of study and what’s disheartening is that graduation doesn’t mean the end of your studies.

Rather, it gets even more difficult to study while working. What’s more, the examination bodies offer the exams twice every year meaning that on a minimum, you will take 6 years to be a fully qualified actuary.

The Actuarial Society of Kenya (TASK), launched in 2005, is the official body for the actuaries. It brings together qualified and trainee actuaries with the aim of promoting the actuarial profession in Kenya and East Africa at large. 

TASK is liaising with the Actuarial Society of South Africa to look into obtaining accreditation for the local universities actuarial science programs. This, if it happens, will be good news for students since it means less time taken for one to qualify as an actuary.

All said and done, actuarial science is slowly growing in Kenya, albeit at a much slower pace than it should. However, it is projected that in the next decade, there should be actuaries working in at least all major sectors of the economy.

That said, for those who wish to pursue the course, go ahead. Just ensure you have all the necessary information and you are sure of what you are getting yourself into.

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