Kettering University’s Actuarial Program in the Department of Mathematics is ranked second in Safeco Insurance’s latest rankings of programs in the United States.
“Our true strength is the co-op component,” said Dr. Leszek Gawarecki, Department Head of Mathematics at Kettering University. “When our students go work among actuaries, they gain a greater understanding of the career path and become highly motivated to pass exams.”
Kettering founded its actuary program in 2011 and structured the coursework to align with post-graduate certification exams. The course of study prepares students for two actuarial exams - probability (P1) and financial mathematics (FM2) - and it allows students to earn all three VEEs (Validation for Educational Experience) while at Kettering by taking courses approved and certified by the Society of Actuaries.
“The ideal candidate for full-time employment passes two exams, P1 and FM2, and earns all three VEEs,” Gawarecki said. “Our strength on top of the exam preparations is that we provide the work experience for students as well.”
Current and past Kettering math majors have gained co-op experience at Auto Owners Insurance (Lansing), General Motors Finance (Detroit), Pioneer State Mutual Insurance (Flint), Towers Watson and Co. (Southfield) and Trinity Health (Livonia) among many others.
“The work is a combination of statistics, mathematics, law and business,” Gawarecki said. “A candidate has to have strong applied mathematical skills and business acumen.”
Southfield, Michigan, is a hub for actuaries and currently there’s a deficit of actuaries in the area. The growth in the insurance industry is also leading to a higher demand for actuarial work in the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow by 18 percent between 2014 and 2024 which is above the national average for all occupations.
“The experience component is heavily emphasized by actuarial companies and Kettering provides students with the best experience through co-op,” Gawarecki said. “Another benefit, traditionally, actuary companies don’t want to hire individuals from across the country if they have a good supply of applicants nearby. Companies want and prefer to hire locally.”