Actuarial Science has always presented itself as a unique and interesting career path, due to its exclusivity and high relevance. The origins of actuarial science can be pinpointed to the era when the notion of compound interest was ideated by Richard Witt, which proves the belief that it was one of the most extended existing professions still relevant in today’s age. Initially implemented in monetary functions, especially in underwriting the loans and in insurance earlier, actuaries established themselves primary users of mass data and generating insights from it.

Initially, it was preconceived to be relevant and applicable only to the insurance industry (LIC, AIG etc.) and banking for a sustained period. However as technology and automation have progressed, the work in actuarial science has expanded to a plethora of industries such as banking, healthcare, pensions and benefits, asset management, capital projects, investments, risks analysis, amongst others. Simply put, an actuary specialises in evaluating and analysing financial situations of risk and uncertainty, while conceiving solutions to mitigate chances of any future risks and occurrence of any unforeseen events. In today’s age, some of the skills an actuary is expected to possess include –

Analytical problem-solving skills – Since they are given the responsibility of examining cluttered data and identifying trends, the analytical problem is a critical skill that will boost their effectiveness them, help them look for ways to minimise the possibility of an unfavourable outcome.

Information technology knowledge – Computer expertise alongside statistical modelling software is required to aid the process of evaluating large batches of data. Professionals should be equipped with the knowledge of composing spreadsheets, database manipulations, statistical analysis programs, and programming languages.

Financial acumen – As individuals would generally find themselves employed with insurance and financial institutions, a fair amount of knowledge on how these industries function is an advantage. Accurate business sense will help in formulating solutions for financial risk and offering expert opinions.

Communication skills – Actuaries connect and communicate with an array of personnel in business organisations including programmers, accountants, and senior management. This is why we can conclude that verbal communication skills are of utmost importance.

Actuaries deal with large sets of data and even play an essential role in predictive analytics. Predictive analytics can be defined as a process using modelling and data analysis techniques on large data sets to notice visible patterns and relationships for business purposes. They utilise analytics tools comprehensively in their work to convert data into useful information. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is a close relation that actuaries share with analytics and data science fields.

While they are primarily concerned with data, there are specific parameters of difference that can be formed between these two. For example, actuaries are found primarily in the finance industry, especially for risk assessment, while the services of data scientists can be used practically in any industry.

If we examine the comparison between actuarial science and data science in detail, the former is related to the study of finance and related fields’ activities, while the latter is concerned with numerous data sets, their relationship and analysis. While AS covers financial modelling and examining related data, DS covers topics like databases, data mining, machine learning, data visualisation, among others. Actuarial science is strictly restricted to the domain of finance.

One of the premier institutes offering education in actuary is University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun. UPES has gradually grown into one of the leading institutes in the country for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and aims to maximise a student’s education to help them achieve their goals.