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What are the career opportunities in data science for actuaries?

Data science laptopWhile actuarial work is not confined exclusively to the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sectors, data science skills open opportunities for actuaries to boost their professional value and move their careers into other businesses and industries.

Many verticals show a demand for data science skills. Online recruiter Indeed sees a 30% increase in demand for data scientists year-on-year. But searches by data science job seekers grew at just 14% – which suggests a quantifiable supply-and-demand gap.

Three employment sectors that perhaps offer clear contrasts to finance are healthcare, automotive, and telecommunications.

Like the BFSI sector, healthcare is being disrupted by technologies driven by massive data sets being generated by diagnostic and treatment tech.

Data collected by patient monitoring systems informs treatment and preventative care programmes. Analysis of heart rate and breathing patterns, for instance, can detect slight changes in health indicators and predict possible disorders. Wearable technology, which monitors patients’ ‘health indicators’ 24x7, can collect up to 2Tb of data per-patient per-day.

Machine Learning algorithms, meanwhile, can detect and track common ailments, like coronary or respiratory conditions. Deep learning is used to read imaging data (x-rays, scans), and analyse it to reduce rates of diagnostic failure. All these applications need data scientists to be involved in some capacity.

Big Data analytics

As IFoA member Lisa Balboa notes, hospitals are using data analytics to forecast the number of patients likely to arrive at their doors in the coming week. Hospital managers use these predictions to adjust staffing and other resources to ensure anticipated patient demand is met.

With access to some of the biggest data sets, telecommunications companies are big proponents of Big Data analytics. As Springpeople notes, data from customer behaviours like SMS usage, video choices, social media activity, and past purchase patterns, enables telcos to offer targeted products and services. On the operational side, data scientists can also help monitor network activity to address performance issues.

With data storage costs down, and increased computer processing power with inexpensive analytics software tools, data analyst jobs have become much easier in the telecom sector, reports researcher Mind Commerce.

Machine Learning enables automotive manufacturers to discover new business models, finesse product quality, and optimise manufacture. Artificial Intelligence and data mining techniques are core to innovation in CAD modelling and simulation, analysis of procurement and logistical information. Data science also plays an integral role in the detection and remediation of production defects.

Other industries now hiring data scientists include agriculture, education, energy, manufacturing, media, mining, retail and travel.

What data science qualifications do actuaries need?

Actuaries realise that they operate in a discipline that’s ideal for the adoption of data science techniques, as the profession equips itself for the 2020s.

However, it’s critical that emphasis on qualificational and certificational attainment – the foundation of the actuarial profession – extends to the attainment of competences in data science.

The addition of data science to their skillsets will prove advantageous to actuaries, both in terms of greater career mobility, and the consolidation of their market value as actuarial professionals.

The maintenance of professional competences has always been core to actuarial practice, and this commitment is validated by Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Professional Skills Training (PST) schemes. Going forward, data science curricular will increasingly meet the requirements of actuarial CPD and PST.

In June 2019, IFoA President John Taylor announced that a certificate in data science will be made available to all members of the actuarial profession. They will be able to choose from a number of modules that cover data science disciplines – such as data visualisation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – and can pick and choose from them. These module will be announced before the launch of the certificate. 

“From this, actuaries will get a much greater appreciation of the art of the possible in data science,” President Taylor explains. “It won’t make them data science practitioners per se, but it will enable those certified to work more closely with data scientists. And the certificate will also have a currency with employers in evidencing the additional learning that actuaries have undertaken.”

Actuarial science and data science share many characteristics, such as data analytics and predictive data modelling; and so the undertaking of study-based attainments in the data sciences means that actuaries will already be familiar with some of the knowledge-acquisition necessary to make data science study part of their CPD/PST programmes and career progression.

Course-based data science qualifications broadly divide into those provided by professional associations (such as the IFoA and its partners), those from accredited academic bodies (like universities and academies), and those from vendors in the data science solutions market (notable examples are those from IBM, Dell, Microsoft and SAS).

The IFoA can help you find the courses to get you started. These courses are online, flexible, and sometimes cost-free. Each has value and provides a different perspective on data science in its many and evolving facets. You can also explore the options for an MSc, with several full- or part-time opportunities.
 

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Events calendar

  • ARC Sessional Research Event: Drivers of Mortality - Risk Factors and Inequality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    6 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The authors will focus on a large dataset obtained from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) and related sources. Data are available at the level of Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) – small geographical areas with, typically, 1000-2000 residents and include death counts, exposures and a significant number of socio-economic variables including the index of multiple deprivation (IMD).

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Spaces available

    This IFoA event for NEDs explores what skills and experience are required to undertake non-executive roles, e.g. as independent NEDs on fund boards or members of IGCs. The event will be chaired by Brandon Horwitz, an actuary who is a consultant and who has held various investment governance roles and who specialises in investment governance as well as being an iNED.

  • Spaces available

    This presentation covers the detail for how the matching adjustment is calculated. A small simple example spreadsheet is provided and discussed in detail.

    For actuaries wanting to get more involved with the matching adjustment, this is the opportunity to get a detailed description of the mechanics involved. This includes cashflows derisking, PRA tests as well as hypothecation.

    The presentation is provided by James Sharpe who has worked on a number of matching adjustment calculations with several firms.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Sessional Meeting - Operational Risk Dependencies

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 9 Queen St Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    20 January 2020

    Spaces available

    The Operational Risk Working Party aims to assist actuaries and others in the modelling and management of operational risk. One of the key challenges in modelling operational risk is the modelling of dependencies between operational risks, and between operational and non-operational risks such as market, credit and insurance risk.

  • KSS event in Glasgow: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson, Glasgow 20 Waterloo St, Glasgow
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Stirling: Public Sector Pensions

    M&G Prudential, Stirling Craigforth Campus, Stirling
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • KSS event in Edinburgh: Public Sector Pensions

    Hymans Robertson 1, Exchange Place, Semple St, Edinburgh
    30 January 2020

    Spaces available

    – the unappreciated key assumption, the resulting unsustainable promises, the unmanaged risk and the unrecognised debt? 

    Speaker: Allan Martin will present this talk on 30 January in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. If you wish to register for another location please return to the Events Calendar.

  • The Great Risk Transfer – Breakfast briefing and launch event

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    31 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Launch of the IFoA’s 2020 thought leadership campaign The Great Risk Transfer. The campaign will examine the trend of the transfer of risk from institutions to individuals, and how people can be better equipped to manage the financial risks they now face. At this breakfast event the IFoA will launch a call for evidence on this topic.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality. Note: Registration is from 17.30 in time for the sessional to begin at 18.00.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees? These areas are likely to provide ne

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London. WC1V 6DR, UK
    19 March 2020

    Spaces available

    Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. The same also be said for pension funds. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees?

  • Spring Lecture 2020, Edinburgh - Vicky Pryce

    Assembly Rooms, 54 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
    25 March 2020

    Spaces available

    What next in Economic Policy?

    Please join us on 25 March 2020 for our annual Spring Lecture presented by Vicky Pryce in Edinburgh. 

  • IFoA Asia Conference 2020, Kuala Lumpur

    CCEC Nexus, 7, Jalan Kerinchi, Bangsar South, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    24-25 June 2020
    Spaces available

    The sixth annual Asia Conference once again offers a prestigious line-up of home and international speakers discussing the insurance and financial industry’s innovation and change in Asia. This year's conference in Kuala Lumpur will be hosted by Tan Suee Chieh, IFoA’s first Asian President. He will also make his Presidential address at this conference and will expand on the important elements of IFoA’s new strategy. 

    Additionally, this landmark conference will showcase how the IFoA is reinventing itself to support its members to succeed and thrive in a digital age, within traditional businesses and beyond, as a global organisation. 

    Not to be missed by international industry players, opinion formers, academic and industry leaders, actuaries and non-actuaries.