If you enjoy figures, statistics and problem-solving, then there’s a good chance you’d relish the opportunity to work as an Actuary. But, if you’ve never heard the term up until now, you might be wondering what an actuary actually does?
What is an Actuary?
According the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), actuaries are experts in risk management. They use their number-crunching skills to analyse financial data and assess risk, with regards to the financial costs of uncertainty. After doing so, they create policies to minimise this risk. Typically, actuaries work in finance – insurance firms, banks, and pension providers are common examples, but they also find work in private firms, government bodies, credit rating agencies and investment firms.
The tasks actuaries carry out can vary hugely depending on the sector they work in. Working in insurance, for instance, actuarial duties might involve product development and risk assessment, whereas in a state regulatory body, an actuary could be responsible for developing policies to be applied to specific industries.
The path to becoming an actuary
To become an actuary, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline, such as actuarial science, maths, statistics, accounting, or business. It’s important to note that when choosing a degree, you can be exempted from certain actuarial exams if you have already completed that material in the course of your university study.
Once that’s complete, the next step is to apply for an actuarial training programme. This involves studying while also working as a trainee for a period of between three and six years. While you do this, you’ll need to become a student member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). All students joining the IFoA from 2nd January 2019 will need to qualify as an Associate before progressing to Fellowship.
This is done by completing (or gaining exemption) in the Core Principles and Core Practice subjects set down by the IFoA and attaining a minimum of two years Personal and Professional Development (PPD). The PPD is an official record of work experience uploaded online each year. If you do well, typically you’ll get exam results every six months, before progressing to the next level.
Getting a job as an actuary
Many companies offer work placements or internships for candidates studying to become an actuary. Most employers in the UK are looking for a minimum 2:1 degree. It’s worth pointing out that you’ll probably be working full time and studying towards exams that are the equivalent, or even larger than modules at university, so don’t expect a hectic social life. That said, most employers offer study leave and sometimes financial support towards costs and materials. After all, they will benefit from your new skills when you qualify.
Actuaries are always in demand, so once you’ve qualified, you can expect to progress quite rapidly. In the meantime, for all types of actuary jobs from internships and entry-level jobs to specialised professionals, try a search on Zoek to see what’s out there.