Accountant vs actuary

Discussion in 'Accounting' started by Pete Schult, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. Pete Schult

    Pete Schult Guest

    I'm in a career transition right now and am deciding among a variety of
    fields, but 2 options are either accountant/auditor or actuary. I've
    gotten some feedback on comparing the 2 fields from actuaries, but I'm
    interested on what accountants who are familiar with what actuaries do
    think of the 2 professions, especially if you made the choice to become
    an accountant even though you knew you could have pursued becoming an

    --Pete Schult
    Pete Schult, Dec 23, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Pete Schult

    John Guest

    --Pete Schult

    Accountants and actuaries both work with pension plans but the trend is
    to discontinue pensions and just have 401k's or "defined contribution"
    plans so I'm not sure of the employment outlook for that type of
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2018
    John, Dec 23, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. actuaries work with statistics and computer simulations, and must pass
    exams that involve solving lots of advance statistics and probability

    CPA accountants usually cannot solve a statistics or math problem if
    their life depends on it. the cpa exam involves memorizing an inane
    collection of esoteria accounting rules and standards.

    in my experience, actuaries tend to be above average IQ people (e.g.,
    IQ = 115-125 range), whereas CPA accountants tend to be average to
    below average IQ people (93-103 range IQ) with an ability to do very
    dull, mundane, detail-oriented work.

    you can identify actuaries and accountants at parties, because both are
    standing in the corner (the opposite corner) staring down at their
    shoes and sucking on a domestic beer.
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 23, 2005
  4. Pete Schult

    Bill Lentz Guest

    When I used to audit life insurance companies, I was told that the
    only difference was that an actuary was an accountant with his
    personality removed...

    Bill Lentz, Dec 23, 2005
  5. Pete Schult

    Ron Todd Guest

    Becoming an accountant is a cake walk compared to becoming an actuary.
    Do a little research and look at the requirements to be an actuary.
    Ron Todd, Dec 23, 2005
  6. actuaries are paid 2 to 3 times as much as accountants/auditors.

    after 5 years experience, an actuary could make $200,000 while
    an accountant makes only $75,000.
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 23, 2005
  7. Pete Schult

    Ron Todd Guest

    That is because it takes a very high I.Q. to become an actuary, I
    would guess that you would have to be in the top 1%.
    Lower I.Q. requirement, more people can pass the classes, more bodies,
    positions filled, mechanization reduced demand, etc....
    Ron Todd, Dec 24, 2005
  8. DW Simpson Webmaster, Dec 25, 2005
  9. That is because it takes a very high I.Q. to become an actuary, I would guess that you would have to be in the top 1%.

    top 1%?? your perspective is astounding, ha ha ha...

    First, I-bankers, successful lawyers and doctors, successful small and
    large business entrepreneurs.. they all make 10X that of an actuary.

    Second, compared to the artistic (e.g., music, writing) professions,
    and the
    academic and scientific professions, being an actuary is quite dull and

    So, why would a person in the top 1% of IQ choose to be an actuary and
    make only $150-200K,
    when he would make much more, or have a job that he enjoys more?
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 25, 2005
  10. Pete Schult

    Reykjavik Guest

    Because you're falsely assuming that if someone is in the top 1% of an
    IQ bell curve, that means they must be creative, interesting or even
    sophisticated and thus demand more out of life then a boring 9-5 desk
    job. I have found that the exact opposite seems to be true. The
    smarter the people I come in contact with, the more boring and dull
    they seem to be.

    I just finished law school and was surrounded by extremely bright
    people who had absolutely no desire to do anything more then be
    someones bitch for the rest of their lives. With all the work and 90
    hour weeks they intend to put into making $1250,000 a year, they could
    have become millionaires on their own. Or at least thats what I
    thought. But the more I spoke to them the more I realized that
    specific thought had never even entered their heads. They never once
    stopped to ask themselves just why they were putting in all this effort
    just to make someone besides themselves rich.

    The moral of the story is, you can be very bright and very
    smart.....but that doesn't mean you can't be boring as sh*t.

    I agree with you, there is no way I will devote 2/3rds of my life to
    making someone else wealthy. I'd rather die a failure who tried to be
    his own boss, then live on my knees.
    Reykjavik, Dec 26, 2005
  11. Pete Schult

    Ron Todd Guest

    I.Q. is only one facet of the total person. It is predictive of
    certain things of a specific nature and is of little use for most
    Ron Todd, Dec 26, 2005
  12. Reykja wrote: I just finished law school and was surrounded by extremely bright people who had absolutely no desire to do anything more then be someones bitch for the rest of their lives.

    Very few people in law school, even in the top schools like Stanford or
    Harvard, are in the top 1%
    IQ. Law school (professional schools generally) attract the "upper
    middle class" bright; people who
    are smarter than the random joe you meet on the subway, but not the
    super smart geniuses.
    So, the premise of your who argument is wrong!

    The super geniuses (top 1%) do not bother with professional school,
    which is by nature
    anti-creative. You find the supergeniuses in phd programs, music,
    writing novels, creating
    directing movies, or starting wild
    internet companies. They hire law school grads to be their worker-bee
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 26, 2005
  13. reykja wrote: agree with you, there is no way I will devote 2/3rds of my life to making someone else wealthy. I'd rather die a failure who tried to be his own boss, then live on my knees.

    no you won't. by nature, a joe who goes to law school is a worker-bee
    by personality.
    You can never take the risk to go and do something like start your own
    business. you just
    don't have it in you. like 99% of your law school classmates, you are
    a drone.
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 26, 2005
  14. actuaries are paid 2 to 3 times as much as accountants/auditors.
    Possibly, assuming you can actually become and get hired as a full

    My brother was heading down that path, at one point.

    What he discovered was that most of the full actuary positions in
    Canada were disappearing due to consolidation of life insurance
    companies. The Mutual Group acquired numerous of its competitors;
    when that happens, the subs no longer each need a full actuary. The
    _one_ at the Mutual Group is all that is necessary to sign off on

    I doubt that things are all that different in the US...
    (reverse (concatenate 'string "moc.liamg" "@" "enworbbc"))
    Rules of the Evil Overlord #192. "If I appoint someone as my consort,
    I will not subsequently inform her that she is being replaced by a
    younger, more attractive woman. <>
    Christopher Browne, Dec 28, 2005
  15. so, all the 10s of thousands of people taking their series of actuary
    exams will find there is not a great paying job at the end of 7 years
    hard labor?? hahaha!
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 28, 2005
  16. Things are different in the US versus Canada. Canadian universities
    graduate an oversupply of actuarial science majors, while this hasn't
    yet happened in the US. Also, the life insurance consolidation that
    Canada saw has not been as severe in the US.
    DW Simpson Webmaster, Dec 29, 2005

  17. this brings up a good point: why is majoring in accounting and
    actuarial science
    so much more popular in canada (and australia) than in the USA? In US,

    business major generally prefer economics, finance, or general
    business. Nobody
    strives to be an accounting geek, except the clueless.
    mrs. eliza humperdink, Dec 30, 2005
  18. I've been an accountant for over 20 years and spent most of my time in
    public accounting but am very familiar with actuarial work. Actuarial work
    tends to pay better than accounting although it is also less varied than
    accounting work. If accountants aren't as smart as actuaries, I have to
    wonder why accounting rules require that they review the actuaries basic
    assumptions when they audit their work. I have worked with statistical
    calculations in accounting to extrapolate error rates, determine sample
    sizes, for review of actuarial reports etc. You have to determine which
    area interests you more and move in that direction.

    I have found most of the work that I've done over the years to be extremely
    interesting and challenging. Accounting work can be very varied as it is
    more than just adding etc. I believe that Elizabeth has confused
    bookkeeping with accounting as she obviously doesn't have a good
    understanding of accounting rules or what accountants actually do. Just go
    to and look at statements 123R, 133 etc. to see how complicated
    accounting can be.

    To say that an actuary is smarter than an accountant indicates that
    someone's experience is severely limited. Just look at our president and
    note his intelligence and wealth to see whether it takes a high IQ to be
    rich. If you look at accountant's salaries some make over 7 figures a year
    and a shareholder partner in a "big 4" firm averages in the range of
    $500,000 or more a year.

    Hopefully you will find this useful.

    Stephen Lewis, CPA
    Stephen A. Lewis, Dec 30, 2005
  19. Why do you come to this newsgroup since you obviously are not an accountant
    just someone who thinks they are smarter than they are. If you are such an
    intelligent person I challenge you to read SFAS 123R and explain to this
    newsgroup how to apply the rules. If you take my challenge, I'll then
    provide an explanation from a dumb old accountant and we can see who
    understands the rules better. Oh, just to make sure you understand, SFAS
    stands for Statement of Financial Accounting Standards that are issued by
    the Financial Accounting Standards Board. The statement can be found at
    Stephen A. Lewis, Dec 30, 2005
  20. Pete Schult

    Ron Todd Guest

    On Fri, 30 Dec 2005 17:23:50 -0500, "Stephen A. Lewis"

    You obviously didn't do your home work on that one. G.W. Bush's, as
    well as Kerry's scores on a couple of tests that correlate with the
    WAIS are documented as well as the sources of the Bush family wealth.
    Your talking about a very steep pyramid and then your using a very
    small sample to support a point which is insupportable.

    And, on top of all that you were easily suckered in by a rather
    unsophisticated troll.

    Just because it took a higher than normal I.Q. for us to get through
    accounting doesn't mean that we accountants are a group that has
    consistently shown great intelligence or wisdom. I only thank God
    that most people pay no attention to a great many of the more foolish
    of the public pronouncements of my professional brethren.
    Ron Todd, Jan 2, 2006
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.