“There were many brisk walks trying to make it from the 3rd floor of Strong Hall to get to my statistics classes in Cheek,” Milam said. “I rarely made it on time. Thanks for putting up with my tardiness Dr. Su!”
The sprints between classes eventually paid off. Milam earned a Bachelor of Science in economics in the spring of 2005 and his Bachelor of Science in mathematics with an insurance minor in fall of 2005. He is currently an associate actuary at American National Property and Casualty Company (ANPAC) in Springfield.
The math department at Missouri State prepared him well for taking the series of tests he needed to pass in order to become an actuary. These tests are difficult, and preparing for them can be grueling.
“Not one person at my company has gone through the exams without failing at least once,” Milam said.
Milam was able to pass his actuary exams fairly easily, though, and passed his first two before graduating. In addition, the classes he took at Missouri State gave him the credits he would need to become an actuary.
“I was able to get Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) credits by taking MTH 547 and MTH 548. Other VEE credit was achieved with ECO 155 and ECO 165,” Milam said. “Also, my insurance minor helped develop my understanding of insurance knowledge and terminology.”
Milam started working at ANPAC even before finishing his degree. He began as an intern in summer 2003 and started working full-time as an actuarial analyst in June 2005.
After Milam graduated, his first actuarial job was doing rate reviews for automobile insurance. This involved preparing rate filings and submitting them to state insurance departments. He did that for four years before moving to his current position in the predictive modeling unit. He now does more statistical work, he said, using generalized linear modeling techniques to more accurately predict the future loss costs of the company’s insureds.
“On a typical day I am running database queries and analyzing the data in our modeling software,” Milam said. “I also analyze data using spreadsheets and put together presentations for upper management.”
Milam offers some advice for math students considering becoming an actuary.
“First, try not to be overwhelmed by the exams. Take them one at a time and don’t get too down on yourself if you fail,” he said.
Second, before getting too far into the exams, Milam said, students need to realize that this is a huge dedication of time. Expect to be working a full-time job and studying on nights and weekends. Your employer will probably offer some study time at work, but the exams will still command about 200-300 hours of a student’s own time in order for him/her to have a good shot at passing.
“Nothing on these exams is overly complex (nothing tougher than 500 level math classes), but there is A LOT of material on each exam,” Milam said. “To get through them, you need to be extremely dedicated, as well as be sure your family understands the dedication required and supports you getting through it.”
Milam describes his own wife, Jennifer, as an “amazing and very understanding” woman. They have a three-year-old daughter, Alexis, and a second child on the way.