If the six-figure salary potential and faster than average job growth has drawn your attention to the actuary career path, you might wonder what are the best courses for you to study in high school. In this business-focused mathematics career, you would analyze the financial costs and consequences of risk as it pertains to insurance, loans and investments. Taking as many math, computer and business classes as possible can help you prepare for the demanding curriculum of an actuarial science degree program.
Actuarial science is a mathematical science, so math courses are a big part of the curriculum in college. High schoolers who intend to major in actuarial science should also take plenty of math courses to prepare for this math-heavy college workload.
In addition to taking a math class every year of high school, you should attempt the most complex math courses your school offers so that you have a strong background in these subjects when you get to the college level. In particular, prospective actuarial science students can benefit from taking high school pre-calculus and calculus at the most challenging levels offered, as well as classes in algebra and statistics and probability.
If possible, taking Advanced Placement (AP) or honors math classes in high school can help you prepare for the rigorous nature of college mathematics courses and potentially allow you to start earning college credit early.
Until you get to college and really dive into your actuarial science studies, you might not realize how integral computers are to this field of study. In fact, actuaries use computers for most of their work, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Every task from compiling data to coming up with predictions about risk based on mathematical calculations involves the use of computer programs such as database software and advanced statistical analysis and modeling software.
Because computer skills matter so much in the field of actuarial science, the BLS reported that aspiring actuaries benefit from studying computer science. Some of the most valuable computer science topics for a high school student interested in an actuary role are programming languages, statistical analysis software, database software and tools for developing spreadsheets. While you can’t expect to learn all of these skills before you get your diploma, you can certainly get an early start by taking any introductory computer classes your high school has to offer.
Computers are becoming more prevalent in virtually every occupation. As a result, high schools now offer more computer science courses than ever. Some high school districts now require all students to take computer science courses to graduate, Education Week reported.
Actuarial science degree programs are often offered out of mathematics departments, but there is no denying that business knowledge is a crucial part of an actuary’s education. In fact, some colleges run their actuary degree programs out of their business school. Regardless of where your degree program is housed, aspiring actuaries must take classes in economics and corporate finance during their college years, the BLS reported. Often, students also take courses such as financial accounting, management accounting, leadership and organizational management, business law and ethics, marketing, operations management and business communications.
As a high school student, you may take introductory business classes that will help prepare you for success in these college courses. Many high schools offer at least one economics or accounting class, so it is a good idea to take as many of these classes as possible. An Introduction to Business course can help you learn the fundamentals of business, and some high schools even offer classes in basic marketing and entrepreneurship.
If your high school’s courses align with the National Business Education Association’s standards, you will also touch on subjects such as business law, career development, business communication, economics, personal finance, international business and management. Even if your high school business courses aren’t as comprehensive, you might be surprised how much you can learn about business outside of your formal business coursework. English classes can be valuable, because the writing and public speaking skills you learn in them are important for communicating effectively in the business world, the BLS reported.
Many high schools also offer extracurricular business activities, such as the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Business Professionals of America (BPA) and DECA.