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Frequently Asked Questions

We know that the path to becoming an actuary isn't always clear! Find the answers to our most asked questions below.

If you can't find the answer to your question here, reach out to us. We'd love to help!

1. What is an actuary?

Good question! An actuary is a business and mathematics professional specializing in the measurement and management of risk. Actuaries commonly work in the insurance industry, but can work for any business that has a financial focus. An actuary is: analytical, a good communicator, problem-solver, intellectually curious, detail oriented.


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2. Why should I join UMAC?

We offer a variety of career advancing opportunities, including recruitment help, network events like our Annual Fish Dinner, interview prep, the mentorship program, coding workshops, the UMAC Cup (case competition), study sessions, and more. Find info on our services here.


Aside from that, we host numerous social events. By joining UMAC, you can expect to enrich your educational experience, prepare for post graduation, and have lots of fun!

To see a breakdown of the UMAC Membership value, check out this table linked here.

Also, if you don't sign up, you will have 5 years of bad luck! Sorry, I don't make the rules.

3. How do I become a UMAC member?

It's easy! Sign up by filling out our sign-up form, and then follow the e-Transfer instructions to pay our one-time membership fee.

If you don't receive our confirmation email (asking you to accept your subscription to our mailing list), make sure to check your junk/spam folder for it, or reach out to us for help.

4. Do I need to be in an actuarial program to be a UMAC member?

Anyone can join UMAC. Whether you’re an actuarial student, or just interested in actuarial studies, you’re welcome to join UMAC!

5. Where can I find resources on internship recruitment? How about exams?

There are several places where you can find more information on these topics. The Actuarial Survival Guide has nearly all the information an actuarial student needs to succeed in their early career. Make sure to read both the general Guide and the Exam Guide!


Our mentorship program is a valuable asset for students too. Having a weathered student to answer your questions and share insider tips is a great help. The mentorship program officially runs from the fall to winter term, and sign-up takes place in September (UMAC members will receive an email sign-up invite). If you’ve missed this window, just send us an email and we will be happy to connect you with a senior student anyway!

The Society of Actuaries website has information on more general life actuarial topics, and the Casualty Actuarial Society website contains information related to property and casualty (P&C) insurance.

6. What should I expect as a new actuarial student? What do I do at this point in my career?

Everybody's path to being an actuary looks different. There is not a single way to reach the goals we share as actuarial students. Here are some things you can do in your first years as an actuarial student that will set you up for success in your early career:


1. Take the intro actuarial exams (FM and P) after you’ve taken the courses that go along with them (Interest Theory, and Probability I & II). There’s no rush to complete exams. However, writing actuarial exams while you’re a student shows employers you are dedicated to your own professional growth and to advancing your career. Writing actuarial exams will also exercise the valuable study skills you need as an actuary, and teach you extra actuarial knowledge that may not be covered in university courses.

2. Attend all info sessions during the recruitment period (September-October)!!! I cannot stress this enough! Attend the info sessions to learn about your prospective employers, network, gain insights from actuarial professionals, and put your name out in the professional world. Students who attend the recruitment period info sessions at the University of Manitoba receive more internship employment offers on average than those who do not. Even if you don’t intend to apply to internships, attend these sessions to prepare for your future applications and to develop your networking skills!


3. Join UMAC’s mentorship program. Having a friendly, knowledgable student to guide you through recruitment, exams, courses, etc. is one of the most valuable assets to a new actuarial student. This program officially runs from the fall to winter term, and sign up takes place in September (UMAC members will receive an email with the invite to sign up). If you’ve missed this window, send us an email and we will be happy to connect you with a senior student anyway!


4. Alongside soft skills (communication, teamwork, etc.) learn hard skills such as coding and excel applications. Actuarial students with even a beginner-level understanding of the programs commonly used in practice are attractive candidates to employers. Consider taking a coding course elective, a free online course, or even watching YouTube tutorials to familiarize yourself with a program.


5. Get involved. Join UMAC and attend our events. The actuarial community is a close-knit group of people. Meeting your peers and developing relationships with them will benefit you throughout university, and also during your career! Club participation is a bonus to include on your resume too. UMAC can always use more volunteers. Please email us if you are interested in getting involved, or consider running for an executive position if you’re looking for even more involvement!

7. There are too many UMAC events! Which ones should I go to to ease myself into UMAC?

We recommend new students attend our kickoff BBQ in September and the Fish Dinner.


Once you want to put your name into the professional ring (around beginning of second year), we highly encourage students to attend all info sessions possible during the recruitment season to learn about the industries and companies.

Of course, the more social events you attend as well, the better! UMAC is not only a professional community, but a social one!

8. How do I choose between a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Commerce in Actuarial Mathematics?

Bachelor of Science

  1. Science students take more actuarial/statistic courses in uni, so in class they learn more material that is covered on actuarial exams. This way, when studying for actuarial exams, you will have already been introduced to more of the topics and will not need to dedicate as much time to studying (though no matter what you will be studying A LOT).

  2. As a result, science students may be more prepared for the technical side of employment by learning hard skills in their early university career. This is largely thanks to the technical degree requirements which include coding courses. However, intro courses that both degrees share are trying to close this gap by incorporating technical concepts. Many students also choose to develop skills like coding and excel proficiency through third party providers, so learning these in school is not imperative.

  3. The Faculty of Science is arguably easier to get accepted into. Though a more difficult educational route, acceptance is slightly less competitive than in the Asper School of Business. This difference is small though, and if your GPA is good, you likely will have no troubles getting into your faculty of choice!

  4. U of M has one of Canada’s most renowned statistics departments. In this program, you will be taking more statistics courses than you would through commerce, and you will likely have some amazing professors.


  1. The co-op work program is not available to science students. Science students still have the same job opportunities and can work the terms they choose. They just are unable to enrol in the program.

  2. There are fewer case competitions available to science students. Commerce students have many case competitions available to them which aren’t offered to science students. There are ample case competitions though, which anyone can signup for.

  3. It’s more difficult. The statistic and actuarial courses can be quite intense, but that may be a reason why you might want to pick this path (or avoid it). Actuaries are often characterized by intellectual curiosity and grit so this truly is a perk for some students. Again, for actuarial exams you will eventually have to study this material anyway.

  4. Less course flexibility, especially for summer courses. Beyond year one and two, there will be no major course sections offered in the summer.  If you hope to take summer courses, you’ll have to choose courses which would fill your electives.

Bachelor of Commerce



  1. Commerce students take classes in business management topics such finance, marketing, and accounting. As you learn more about the insurance world, you will have a broad perspective of how an actuary's work connects to different parts of the organization.  

  2. The Asper courses often require group work and/or presentations. This is an opportunity for actuarial students to develop their leadership and communication skills.  

  3. As a result, commerce students may be more prepared for the communicative side of work during internships, and may have a better understanding of general business operations.

  4. Asper students have more flexibility in course selection which can result in a slightly lighter course load, specifically in the upper years if you are solely taking business courses. There is a greater selection of GMGT courses available in the summer as well if you wish to get ahead in your degree then.

  5. The option to do a term abroad as a part of the exchange program.


  1. Since there are fewer course requirements that introduce SOA actuarial exam information (act/stat courses), you may need to be a bit more self motivated to learn outside of school for your exams.

  2. As a result, you may also have to hone your actuarial exam study skills outside of class, versus slowly developing them throughout the difficult actuarial courses. Studying for actuarial exams is different than studying for regular exams, but you will also get this experience, simply, as you write these exams. 

  3. It's slightly more competitive to be accepted into the Asper School of Business. Again, there is a minor difference in competition between the programs which should not make this point a major factor in your choice between programs.

  4. Though business classes are generally less intense, some aspects of classes can be frustrating and out of your control. For example, group work is an opportunity for leadership development and team work, but working in groups can be terribly difficult, depending on the students you are grouped with. Commerce classes involve much group work.

Some important notes:

  • No matter your degree, you can always fill your electives with courses that are required for the opposite program if you’d like.

  • There are endless opportunities to hone your soft/hard skills no matter your program, and your success in the workplace is dependent on you, not the program you choose.

  • An employer once said “a science student might come with more technical skills, and will learn more of the business side on the job.  A commerce student will come with more business skills, and learn more of the technical skills on the job.” You will learn the skills you need eventually, no matter which faculty you choose.

  • The employment rate between faculties is about the same. Employers do not value students of one program more than the other.

  • You will study a ton, and learn soft skills and technical skills all throughout your career, regardless of your chosen program. Your choice is really a matter of what you want your focus to be on in university.

  • The amount of students who choose science and commerce is just about even.

  • They are both great programs.

9. Where can I get help choosing courses?

  1. Visit UMAC's actuarial courses page to see the actuarial courses offered by the University of Manitoba, and the terms in which they are offered.

  2. Receiving an actuarial degree through the Faculty of Science? Look through your degree requirements or contact a science academic advisor.

  3. Receiving an actuarial degree through the Asper School of Business? Asper does not have a page for degree requirements, but you can email an Asper advisor at

  4. Regardless of your faculty, log into UMAchieve to perform a degree audit. This will show you which courses you have completed and which courses you have yet to complete before graduating. If you are nearing the end of your degree, make sure to contact an academic advisor in your faculty to ensure you meet your degree requirements before scheduling a graduation date.

  5. Last, look at past and current academic calendars. Look for the section on your degree to view prerequisites and required courses.

10. I want to get involved in the actuarial/UMAC community. How can I do that?

UMAC is always looking for volunteers! Respond to one of our emails if you’d like to help out with an event, or email us directly at


If you’d like to be even more involved, consider running for an executive position on UMAC. Elections run in March/April every year!

1. What is an actuary
2. Why should I join UMAC
3.How do I become a member


5. Where can I find resources
4. Do I need to be in an
7. There are too many...
6. What should I expect as a new
8. How do I choose between
9. Where can I get help choosing
10. I want to get involved
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