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Proud to Be an Actuary


by Gail M. Ross

Forgive me if I revert back to my high school cheerleader days, but I feel actuaries have something to cheer about! The most recent Jobs Rated Almanac (Sixth Edition 2002, by Les Krantz) rates "Actuary" as the second best job in the U.S.—up from fourth position in the 2000 edition. This year we are exceeded only by "Biologist"—due to the high demand for their services in the areas of bioengineering, genetically altered agriculture, and defenses against chemical warfare. "Financial Planner" (last year's number one) ranked third this year. "Computer Analyst" and "Accountant" round out the top five.

You might recall that when the first edition of the Jobs Rated Almanac was published in 1988, "Actuary" was ranked number one and our popularity skyrocketed (well, that may be stretching it a bit—but it did make for some interesting cocktail party discussion)! The ratings are based upon a combination of six criteria (our rankings for each among the top five rated positions are shown in parentheses):

I know there are those in our Society who might scoff at this Almanac and the associated ranking—after all, it is a rather simplistic diagnostic model and certainly can't measure up to sophisticated stochastic models we develop. I, however, am proud of this ranking and the fact that we've never been ranked lower than fourth since this book was published. CareerJournal.com and CollegeJournal.com (free Web sites from The Wall Street Journal) are affiliated with the publication of this book and present these ratings on their sites—what a great way for getting the message out that the actuarial profession is highly valued.

I must admit there are times when I read postings on CASNET and the CAS Discussion Forum and wonder about the future of our profession. Luckily, those moments are short-lived. How ironic, that we've got outside sources touting our profession and many of our own members sound like they would rank us in last place (250) in the Almanac.

At the 2002 CAS Spring Meeting, I was fortunate to meet a young woman who had recently received her Fellowship. She asked if she could offer Bob Conger and me her views on a few topics. My immediate thought was that she was going to complain about something—sadly these days, it seems as if many opinions offered to us are complaints. Boy, did I misjudge the situation! Without going into specific details, our conversation was very positive.

She told me that although it took her nearly ten years to achieve Fellowship, she felt the exam process gave her the tools she needed to excel in this profession. She is proud to be an actuary and encouraged me to stress to the board and EC that we should keep our standards high. What an uplifting evening that was for me—to hear some positive expressions regarding our profession—from within the ranks!

That conversation, and the number two Jobs Rated Almanac ranking, helped to focus me in on two things.

First, being an actuary is a great profession and one we should continually take pride in and strive constantly to improve. Theworld continues to evolve and I realize there are many changes we need to make so our profession remains prestigious and in demand. What profession doesn't face those same challenges? But I would encourage each of you to take pride in how the world perceives us.

Second, life's so much easier when we try to be positive.

So how about this proposal—we'll make a new rule for everyone that posts on CASNET—for every negative comment that is made, the writer has to offer a positive statement about our profession! Oh well, maybe the old cheerleader in me has gotten a little out of control, but it's worth a shot!