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  1. #1
    Registered User JRODR's Avatar
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    Pharmacist vs Actuary (reps)

    Hi, I'm a senior in highschool trying to decide on a career choice. My grades can pretty much get me in anywhere (1360 SAT, 3.97 GPA, attending 3 college courses), just having trouble deciding what I want to do. I've done a lot of research and narrowed it down to pharmacist or actuary (of course I could always change my mind down the road). I am leaning towards actuary mainly because math is my strongest subject and filling pill bottles all day could get boring as hell. I also think it's kind of taking the easy way out; definitely selling myself short.

    Everyone always tells me I should get an MD or be a lawyer, those are two professions I want to avoid at all costs. Opthamologist is the only medical path which slightly interests me. However, the path to become one is too long (11yrs minimum basically).

    I know that I can always change my major down the road, but I'd like to make my decision soon. I got offered a full scholarship to Widener University which I would attend to become an actuary, as well as Wilkes University which has a very competitive 0-6 PharmD program. There's a chance I could end up doing neither, but any advice is really appreciated. Thanks
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    Registered User m204's Avatar
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    become a chemist and work for a large pharm manufacturer
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    Registered Sex Offender Dr. Octoclops's Avatar
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    Both of those careers suck. Pharmacists count pills and there's no such thing as an actuary.
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    I would say pharmacist because I know what that is
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    wtf is a actuary.
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    Originally Posted by Irish Fan View Post
    wtf is a actuary.
    http://www.beanactuary.org/about/whatis.cfm

    Ben Stiller played an actuary in Along Comes Polly.
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    in that case ...neither ..they both sound boring as hell

    Dude just goto college take some basic core classes everyone has to take and party like there is no tommorow for a couple a years and after that then start thinking about that crap . Your first year or two of classes are the same no matter what you major in.
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    Originally Posted by Dr. Octoclops View Post
    Both of those careers suck. Pharmacists count pills and there's no such thing as an actuary.
    That is a person that does taxes and all that jazz. You be similar to an economist and you can do peoples taxes. that I know of they don't make THAT much money and it is FAR too much work. I'm pretty sure you'll need 2.5 years of Calc which would suck, but since you actualyl had the career in mind you may like that sort of thing.

    BTW Pharmacy only requires 1 semester of Calc depending on what school you're transfering to.
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    Originally Posted by Dr. Octoclops View Post
    Both of those careers suck. Pharmacists count pills and there's no such thing as an actuary.
    I'm sorry buddy, Pharmacist have not been counting pills since....since the mid 90's. All of the counting is done by a machine (kind of like a coin sorter)
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    Originally Posted by Dr. Octoclops View Post
    Both of those careers suck. Pharmacists count pills and there's no such thing as an actuary.
    Ummm yes there is. You don't know what you are talking about. They analyze things like pensions and employee health benefits and things of this nature. The job pays well and it is in high demand. Just within the last week 4 new jobs in the dallas area opened up for actuarys(sp). I am getting a finance degree so that job pops up whenever I do a search for Finance and related jobs. We've even discussed actuarys in accounting class.
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    Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    That is a person that does taxes and all that jazz. You be similar to an economist and you can do peoples taxes. that I know of they don't make THAT much money and it is FAR too much work. I'm pretty sure you'll need 2.5 years of Calc which would suck, but since you actualyl had the career in mind you may like that sort of thing.

    BTW Pharmacy only requires 1 semester of Calc depending on what school you're transfering to.
    Actuary aren't actually like economists or accountants at all lol. They do the math and statisitcal analysis for insurance firms (mostly) and determine amounts to be paid in and out by those firms to its consumers.
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    Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    I'm pretty sure you'll need 2.5 years of Calc which would suck, but since you actualyl had the career in mind you may like that sort of thing.

    BTW Pharmacy only requires 1 semester of Calc depending on what school you're transfering to.
    The guy already said math was his strongest subject. I have 3.5 years of college level math courses to be a CprE. Not that hard if you ask me.
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    Originally Posted by Irish Fan View Post
    in that case ...neither ..they both sound boring as hell

    Dude just goto college take some basic core classes everyone has to take and party like there is no tommorow for a couple a years and after that then start thinking about that crap . Your first year or two of classes are the same no matter what you major in.
    Ok, then, What is a "fun" job? hm?

    Construction out in the freezing/smoltering weather?

    How about house painting? no?

    What about anything in the engineering field? Maybe, But then again you have to consider it takes almost as much schooling as Pharmacy AND i'll be damn near impossible to find a job, AND if you find one it will be hard to keep it for longer than 5-10 years. Oh, and say hello to outsourcing for me while your at it.

    You could take the generic office job filing papers.

    Oh I know what a fun field is! Computer Science! oh wait, in 5 years (not unless you go back to school) all of your skills will be obselete.

    How about a cop or a firefighter? nah, they aren't paid enough for the hard work they do, and you COULD die. I don't want to be able to DIE because of the occupation of my job. I have enough to worry about as it is.

    Pharmacist are in so much demand that they are paying Pharmacist DOUBLE to come out of retirement to work in hospitals and major retail chains. The Pharmacist I work with just graduated about 3 years ago and he said he gets so many requests from stores hospitals and companies that want his service, that the post office has to mail all of the letters to him in a box!
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    Banned Maestro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nithos View Post
    The guy already said math was his strongest subject. I have 3.5 years of college level math courses to be a CprE. Not that hard if you ask me.
    Well, good for you.

    As for me, a year of calc was more than enough math for what i'm striving for.
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    Hey,

    Finally a thread I can give some educated advice on from a little experience

    I'm going into my second year of a BSc majoring in Stats and Actuarial Science. I'm not sure what your subject breakdown would be at a college you attend, but mine goes like this:

    Year 1: Economics 1 ; Business Accounting ; Statistics 1 ; Mathematics 1 ; Actuarial Science 1.
    Year 2: Mathematics 2 ; Actuarial Science 2 ; Statistics 2.
    Year 3: Statistics 3 ; Actuarial Science 3.
    Optional 4th year specialising in an area of your choice (Honours) such as maths of finance.

    Pretty much what an actuary does is assess risk. Whether you're talking about insurance (most common), stocks, shares, investments etc. an actuary will hopefully have the knowledge to give you an educated "guess" on what you can probably expect in time. A silly example would be predicting how long a 60 year old lady would live given the local demographics, her medical history, state of health etc. Actuaries then provide this information to insurance companies so they can give the lady a customised insurance plan and work out payouts that would profit the company.

    The first thing I will say is that it really isn't an easy degree, and you'll encounter a lot of weird people who really do nothing but study (seriously). Fact is though, if you manage to get through the knowledge you'll gain will be pretty invaluable in handling finances. I'd recommend you have strong maths skills (as you say you have) and an interest in maths, cause the stats really gets pretty heavy. Maths was never my strong point, but the actuarial science subject really gets you thinking and all in all i'm glad I went with it (JUST passing ).

    Also, there are relatively few actuaries around and so if you manage to qualify you'll have great job security and pretty high pay. All actuaries worldwide write a series of exams once they're done their degrees, and the exams are set by one of the governing bodies i.e The Faculty of Actuaries. You don't actually need a degree to write these exams and can study for them at home, but the reason most people do a degree is because the exams are really hard and work on a bellcurve, and colleges offer exemptions to some of the exams provided you do well in the courses - so i'd recommend you pick a college that offers the most exemptions Remember, even if you don't want to qualify as an actuary, having the degree will put you in a good position for the future!

    Sorry for the long read, hope this clarifies things from the actuarial side.

    Best of luck!

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    Actuary's assess risk for insurance companies. They make BANK. You have to pass 9 tests to become a certified actuary. $200,000 - $250,000 if you pass all the tests.
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    Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    What about anything in the engineering field? Maybe, But then again you have to consider it takes almost as much schooling as Pharmacy AND i'll be damn near impossible to find a job, AND if you find one it will be hard to keep it for longer than 5-10 years. Oh, and say hello to outsourcing for me while your at it.
    Outsourcing isn't really a huge problem for the engineering field. If it does get to that, it will just be a change in roles. Instead of being the peon doing all the grunt work, you are a project manager making sure the peons overseas do all the grunt work.

    Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    Oh I know what a fun field is! Computer Science! oh wait, in 5 years (not unless you go back to school) all of your skills will be obselete.
    This is where something like Engineering and Computer Science differ from a lot of other majors. The best way I can put it is that they teach you to teach you how to think, or learn , or explore. It's not really about knowing this technology X or that concept Z.
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    Registered User JRODR's Avatar
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    Taking a lot of math classes won't deter me from being an actuary. I easily managed an A in my AP Statistics course (and every math class I've taken for that matter). I'm just wondering about job availability. There's always openings at Walgreens, Walmart, Target, CVS, etc. if I take the pharmacy route.
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    Registered User Dirk Diggler's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JRODR View Post
    Taking a lot of math classes won't deter me from being an actuary. I easily managed an A in my AP Statistics course (and every math class I've taken for that matter). I'm just wondering about job availability. There's always openings at Walgreens, Walmart, Target, CVS, etc. if I take the pharmacy route.
    You can make damn good money as an actuary, but it is hard. You need a math degree. You also have to take 7 exams before you become fully certified. There is alot of money in the field if that's what you are into.
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    Originally Posted by Dirk Diggler View Post
    You can make damn good money as an actuary, but it is hard. You need a math degree. You also have to take 7 exams before you become fully certified. There is alot of money in the field if that's what you are into.
    I dunno. I passed the first two exams after I got my B.Sc. in math and they weren't bad at all. Got them both on the first try with high grades. The first was all probability theory, and you'll learn 95% of that if you get a degree in math anyways.

    The second was just financial math (annuities and all that stuff) and it's the kind of stuff accountants do. Tedious, but not hard by any means.

    Right now I'm taking a break from those exams while I do my Master's, but I definitely reccomend going down the Math/Stats path over Pharmacy (even if you end up somewhere other than as an actuary). I've found most of what I've done pretty interesting.

    My Master's is more in the optimization end of math so pretty unrelated to actuarial science/statistics, but I definitely see falling back into being an actuary as a strong possibility for myself.
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    Originally Posted by JRODR View Post
    Hi, I'm a senior in highschool trying to decide on a career choice. My grades can pretty much get me in anywhere (1360 SAT, 3.97 GPA, attending 3 college courses)
    Those scores will barely guarantee you second tier, and that's depending on your extracurricular involvements and your essay composition.

    It's much harder to qualify as an actuary. There are some eight or so tests of increasing difficulty (proctored by the Society of Actuaries) which you have to pass. The job is comparatively light for its high compensation. Still, it's hard, and you need a decent foundation in economics as well. AP statistics is a joke compared to its other subject peers, so don't count too much on that.

    Anyways, you're still in high school taking very basic courses, so don't put all your eggs in one basket right away. Until you have some working experience in either of these fields as an intern, don't emotionally invest. Academics are often nothing like real work. Wait for your college experience before deciding.
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    Originally Posted by JRODR View Post
    Hi, I'm a senior in highschool trying to decide on a career choice. My grades can pretty much get me in anywhere (1360 SAT, 3.97 GPA, attending 3 college courses), just having trouble deciding what I want to do. I've done a lot of research and narrowed it down to pharmacist or actuary (of course I could always change my mind down the road). I am leaning towards actuary mainly because math is my strongest subject and filling pill bottles all day could get boring as hell. I also think it's kind of taking the easy way out; definitely selling myself short.

    Everyone always tells me I should get an MD or be a lawyer, those are two professions I want to avoid at all costs. Opthamologist is the only medical path which slightly interests me. However, the path to become one is too long (11yrs minimum basically).

    I know that I can always change my major down the road, but I'd like to make my decision soon. I got offered a full scholarship to Widener University which I would attend to become an actuary, as well as Wilkes University which has a very competitive 0-6 PharmD program. There's a chance I could end up doing neither, but any advice is really appreciated. Thanks
    You need to give us more information...

    Personally a pharm is below you and you should aim higher. Actuary's get paid lots but I personally would think it's a boring job as it's purely stats.


    Do you want to work for someone?
    Do you want your own buisness in the future?
    Do you care about money?
    Do you enjoy learning?
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    Do you like drawing paint ect?
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    You say you like math but what kind of math? Calc? Proofs? Modeling? Stats?


    I can tell you what I like but I can't really tell you, I know it's hard as I really had no idea as well and now i'm in 3rd year in Electrical Engineering and I love it.

    Give some ideas as to what you liek and what you want in life and I can try and help you out.
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    fish/60/30 DontTreadOnMe's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by RACKITUP View Post
    thanks johnny knoxville
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    Do you want to work for someone? Yes
    Do you want your own business in the future? No
    Do you care about money? Yes
    Do you enjoy learning? Yes
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    You say you like math but what kind of math? Stats

    I don't think I would honestly love any job outside of a select few. I'm just trying to find something practical, attainable, and that I don't mind doing. I don't necessarily like math, it's just my strongest subject.
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    My brother, the family nerd, is a pharmacist and although he does well, makes $120k year, his job is incredibly boring and depressing. He went to school for, I think, 6 years to count pills for 8 hours a day, and he works at Wal-Mart.
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    The thing I like about pharmacy though is that it is very flexible and allows you to have a life outside of work.
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    Originally Posted by SyOne View Post
    My brother, the family nerd, is a pharmacist and although he does well, makes $120k year, his job is incredibly boring and depressing. He went to school for, I think, 6 years to count pills for 8 hours a day, and he works at Wal-Mart.
    Like was already said we don't count pills. I'm fine w/my job, I actually want to move into a slower store so i can get paid to do nothing. I have no problem w/being able to read while getting paid. Pharmacy can be rewarding, we are well trusted(second only to nurses) and well respected. If retail(CVS, walgreens, etc) isn't your thing there are many other avenues. You can become a clinical pharmacist(what the PharmD is pretty much for now) and help doctors create treatment plans for the inpatients at the hospitals. There's a shortage so getting a job is easy. But it only pays 80-120k so it may not be enough for many of the future Misc millionaires that are still in high School plotting out their life.
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    Registered User JRODR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by forgot password View Post
    Like was already said we don't count pills. I'm fine w/my job, I actually want to move into a slower store so i can get paid to do nothing. I have no problem w/being able to read while getting paid. Pharmacy can be rewarding, we are well trusted(second only to nurses) and well respected. If retail(CVS, walgreens, etc) isn't your thing there are many other avenues. You can become a clinical pharmacist(what the PharmD is pretty much for now) and help doctors create treatment plans for the inpatients at the hospitals. There's a shortage so getting a job is easy. But it only pays 80-120k so it may not be enough for many of the future Misc millionaires that are still in high School plotting out their life.
    Bu..but how can I live off of 90k a year. That's not even enough for ONE ferrari.

    How's the future outlook for pharmacists. I know they are in huge demand right now. My aunt is a doctor and my brother is an RN, they both said that their hospital is offering huge bonuses to pharmacists since they can't find any. However, it seems like 1/3 people I talk to are going to major in pharmacy. I'm afraid it will become saturated in 10yrs.
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    So far i've heard the shortage should last another 12 years, at that point i have no idea. Pay has doubled in the last 12 years and goes up on average 4-7%. For the work i do i'm paid very well and once i get into a slow store i can't complain about getting paid 110k-130k to sit and do hardly any work. If i work at a place that offers time and a half i can work 60 hours a week and make 200k+ a year in an easy job. That aint half bad. I don't see this lasting forever though but who knows. We may price ourselves out of the market. We cost alot to have so i'm sure the major chains are trying to figure out ways to maximize our use so that they can have fewer of us.
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