Data science and its potential for Actuaries
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, with the potential to transform both traditional actuarial fields and open up new sectors and industries. 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.
Certificate in Data Science
At the AGM in June 2019 John Taylor announced the launch of the IFoA's Certificate in Data Science. This Certificate will be available to our members at all stages of their careers and wherever they are located across the globe. It will, cover topics such as Data Visualisation, Machine Learning, AI and Ethics, and the application of these to actuarial work. We are delighted to be working with the Southampton Data Science Academy (SDSA) to present a certificate in data science jointly accredited by the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.
Watch our Autumn Lecture 2017 that explores these issues in detail.
Data science holds huge potential for changing the way in which actuaries work. Explore what data science is from an actuarial viewpoint.
Data science, in all its manifestations, is rarely out of the public eye these days. Why has it become such a hot topic, though, and what role should actuaries play in understanding and explaining it?
Courses to get you started
These are offered by:
- Actuartech offers interactive training courses in R, Python and SQL structured around actuarial specific applications
- Future Learn
- Edx we have found a suite of free courses from Harvard to take you through the basics
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. 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.
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:
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
More on Data science
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