Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Actuarial Careers

James Thornhill

Actuaries are experts in risk management. They use their mathematical skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events and (usually) their financial impact on a business and/or their clients.

This information is useful to many financial services industries, such as healthcare, pensions, insurance, banking and investment. To become a qualified actuary you can work towards the Associate qualification or the Fellowship, both of which are outlined below.

Actuaries work with a number of professionals in areas such as data analysis, pricing and financial product marketing – these professionals are often called Analysts.

What are the main industry sectors I could work in?

Actuarial skills are in great demand throughout the financial sector, particularly in investment, insurance and pensions as well as developing industries such as risk management, health care and banking and investments.

However, actuarial consultancies are probably the biggest employers of actuaries in the UK. There are many areas where actuaries and their teams could work, including;

  • Consultancies - offering advice on issues such as acquisitions, mergers and financing capital projects, and also on occupational pension schemes .

  • Investment - involved in research and on the pricing and management of investments, particularly in mitigating the risk of investments.

  • Insurance - providing a service to companies which need a huge range of numerical information investigated, analysed and explained; for example to create and price polices, or to ensure they have the money to cover claims.

  • Pensions - designing and advising on company pension schemes, especially placing a value on accumulated pension commitments.

To be recognised as an actuary you will need to become certified by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) in one of the following ways:

Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA)?

CAAs are professional technical and analytics experts who provide their expertise to teams where the technical application of actuarial science is required. The generalist nature of the strong analytical skills developed by the CAA qualification mean that it can be used to open the door to a wide range of careers inside and outside of the traditional actuarial sphere, from marketing to senior management.


An Associate is a qualified actuary with a broad range of technical skills in a number of different financial services industries.


A Fellow is a qualified actuary with expert knowledge in a particular industry. At Fellowship you study to a higher level, and as such are highly sought after in the global market.

How much can I earn as an Actuarial?

According to an XpertHR Salary survey of actuaries and actuarial students for the IFoA the average basic salaries for a recent graduate is £32,825.

Students specifically training to work in the actuarial field can expect to earn £35,936. Other average salaries fall between £51,594 and £206,236 depending on your level and experience.

What qualifications do I need to be an Actuarial?

After a Bachelors Degree

Most graduates joining the IFoA have a first or second class honours degree, and must also have a minimum grade B in A-level mathematics and a grade C in another subject.

Employers also look for similar criteria.

Although not essential a postgraduate degree, diploma or MSc in actuarial science may help you achieved the IFoA qualification in a shorter time.

The Certificate in Financial Mathematics (CT1) is offered by the IFoA to non-members such as university students and people working in financial services. It provides a useful starting point for those considering a career as an actuary. The exam also goes towards completing the professional qualification.

What Skills Do I Need To Be An Actuarial?

To work in the actuarial field you will need to have:
strong numeracy skills
communication skills
analytical and research skills
IT skills
ability to work alone

What experience do I need to get a job in Actuarial?

Formal work experience is not essential to work in the actuarial profession but gaining some on-the-job experience can be invaluable to career progression. Some companies offer placements to students who are interested in becoming actuaries.

Employers are always impressed by candidates having taken work placements and internships in the field, so this is worth considering.

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