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Data science

The world of data science continues to be both a threat and an opportunity for actuaries in traditional and new areas of work. With rapid advancements in technology, we can collect, store and draw insights from data like never before. Yes, we think that ‘Big Data’ is going to change the world and we want to be ready to embrace the opportunities that come along with it.

Courses to get you started

These are offered by:

These courses are online, flexible, and sometimes free; allowing you to choose when you start and how much time you spend. Each course is valuable providing a different perspective on Data Science, from Basic R to detailed analysis.

Fee paying courses

Fee paying online courses include a dedicated supervisor, who will provide support and review your submissions. Furthermore, there is access to forums to discuss projects with others. Whilst Udemy and Udacity are open for registration all the time, Southampton University offers fixed 6-week courses, ideal if you have a dedicated window of time to study in.

Explore the options for an MSc, with a number of full or part time opportunities. For a comprehensive list of the available courses, visit the Study Portals Masters site. We will provide further details about this area shortly.

Data science course review

We asked some of our members for feedback on the courses they had studied; members of the Modelling Analytics and Insight from Data (MAID) Working Party identified Machine Learning (Andrew Ng, Stanford University) offered by Cousera as a great introduction.  This is what they said:

This course covers a full spectrum of machine learning starting from the basics and there is a practical focus on how to build machine learning solutions (neural networks and others) from scratch to solve real world problems. The course is 11 weeks long and requires circa 3-4 hours a week of study to complete course. The course is free but there is an option to pay for a certificate (for a one off course fee of £58).

The course is taught through a mix of lecture videos, notes, multiple choice questions and programming assignments in Octave (a freeware version of Matlab). This course is both relevant and may be useful to actuaries although it may not be suitable for every actuary because of the hands on programming which will require individuals to get stuck into it to get a lot out of the course. Recommendations are to complete programming assignments to get full benefits of course.

Qualifications provided by Actuarial Associations and other Professional Bodies:

Other learning options which you might wish to consider if you are looking for a qualification in the Data Science area:

The CAS Institute Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics (CSPA)

The Operational Research Society - Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®)

More on data science

Try Kaggle for projects to work on and, KD Nugget site for detailed data science blogs articles and FAQs.

The role of the Actuary in the expanding field of data science

You can now view the recording of this recent webinar discussion, facilitated by Jane Barrett from Career Farm, with Mark Lee and Stelio Passaris.  View the recording
 

Lifelong Learners are motivated to never stop learning

Take time to reflect and plan before you begin any new projects

Reflect: check the competencies against your current role and future ambitions

Plan: identify exactly what skills and knowledge you need and how best to acquire them

Do: take courses, read articles, find a mentor, look online, volunteer

Record: write down everything you do, how far it met your objectives, the impact on your work