What are the reasons for considering what seems to be a counter-intuitive move?

Let’s look at why individuals consider why they feel the ‘need’ to do so.

We all experience times in our working career where we look at others and wonder what led them to their particular career paths. Some of us may even look at those other jobs and professions and think to ourselves, “I could be doing that”; or “That really interests me. How can I move into that type of work myself?”

The Drivers for Change

Impetus for change may lie at a higher level where the individual had been following a career that their parents dictated or influenced them to have. Now that it is satisfied, they may be looking to find a career path of their own.

Or perhaps it’s a lack of current job satisfaction where the work they are doing simply does not get their creative or brain ‘juices’ flowing.

Maybe it’s just simply that they ‘discovered’ actuarial work by chance.

In my time in recruitment, I’ve seen people successfully transition from finance into actuarial; from the defence forces into actuarial; from dental, medical and allied health backgrounds into actuarial.

I’ve also seen actuaries transitioning from one sector into another because there’s been a development in another sector in which they really want to be involved or they feel it’s just time for a change.

If you look thoroughly through the actuarial ranks at any Summit or Seminar, there are many people who have successfully transitioned in one way or other.

The Pain of the Change

Career path changes are generally synonymous with a short to medium term pay cut as you would be retraining into a new area. If there is a chance that you can ‘trade off’ your current skillset while acquiring the new skills, the financial pain may only be small. A noticeable (and often significant) drop in income may occur if there is a dramatic change in skills and full retraining is required.

If the transition requires full time study while undertaking a part-time job, e.g. a post graduate degree course, the forward planning is vitally important to your success.

However, if you are stretching this with full-time work and part-time study to keep the income drop to a minimum, you’ll need to be well prepared and very determined to see it through.

Why some choose NOT to undertake the transition in some cases
By its very nature, actuarial work can be very attractive from the outside but before you undertake any job changes, honestly ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you prepared to make the sacrifice and commitment to achieve your goal?
  • Do you have what it takes to complete the transition into the chosen role? You could be destined to work in the allied actuarial space achieving enjoyment just being around the actuarial process.
  • Is it a money matter? Will the trade-off on income in the short to medium term be possible if you have significant family and financial commitments?

The Results of Changing

A question many may consider is, how long is the wait before the change begins to pay off?

Firstly, there is an exam progression to consider. Depending on your background and previous education, you may have some exemptions and exams to pass before you achieve your aim.

You may be looking at waiting as little as 1 year or up to 4 or more years depending on how many exams you need to pass to be in a position to step up into an actuarial role. This is also dependent on your experience and the bag of skills you have up your sleeve. Good software skills and analytical experience are always handy.

If you’re only transitioning sectors within the broader actuarial space, the main obstacles you may face is finding an employer that will invest in you for the potential you’ll realise only some 6 or 12 months down the line or an empathetic manager willing to invest time into bringing you up to speed in the new sector. In the current climate, few managers, if any, will admit to having spare or unallocated time as you’d understand.

However, what is in your favour is that employers are increasingly hiring ‘the right person’ for the team going forward rather than picking the easiest or best skillset match in that moment.

If you can present yourself as a keen, interested and proactive learner, with a right blend of soft skills for the team, then you can be the ‘right face in the right space’. It particularly helps if you’ve done your research on what’s required in the new role and identify the ‘gaps’ between what you bring by way of your skills and what the ideal candidate for the role brings. This identification and self-awareness will make you a stronger contender for the position.

Having outlined all the above, you still must bear in mind what the new position is benchmarked at, in terms of salary. In the field you are leaving, your skillset is benchmarked at a well-defined and clear salary value.

To you, the value of what you bring in skills is clear when using the previous sector scale.

It’s your skills value in the new sector that is most relevant to your new employer.

Your awareness and research going into the process can pay dividends here because once you’ve identified the skills gap, you’ll know what it takes to bridge that gap, and you can negotiate with the new employer accordingly. Perhaps using a stepped increase of pay rises according to how quickly you adapt and learn might be a suggestion.

Preparation, and research will be the keys to success in any transition you’re about to undertake. Good luck.

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