Taking on student debt is a financial risk. Those in the best position to pay it off after graduation are those who study exactly such risks.
Actuarial science, the formal term for the study of insurance, was ranked as the most valuable college major, according to a Bankrate.com report released on Monday. Actuarial science majors earn an average annual salary of $108,658 and have a better-than-average unemployment rate at 2.3 per cent. And at a time when student debt is at a record high, these graduates are less likely to incur the added expense of additional schooling and delayed earning potential.
“The actuarial science profession is interesting because students don’t need advanced degrees to gain livable wages, but instead are certified through a series of exams overseen by the industry’s professional organisations,” said Bankrate.com analyst Adrian Garcia in an interview. “Students typically pass one to two of these exams while in school and then go on and complete others while working, earning raises and bonuses as they pass.”
Recent actuarial science graduates are entering the industry at an opportune moment. The US property and casualty insurance industry took in $18 billion in net profit, even as the country sustained heavy losses from natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, according to the National Association for Insurance Commissioners.
Science, engineering and mathematics continue to offer the best postgraduate prospects, the study found. Zoology, nuclear engineering, premedical and applied mathematics dominated the five most valuable degrees, offering graduates low rates of unemployment and six-figure salaries. The only students faring worse than fine arts degree holders are niche fine arts degree holders. Graduates with degrees outside the traditional buckets of art, theater, music earn the second-lowest average annual salary of $40,855.