Working In The Actuarial Industry
An overview of the industry
Actuarial science is how actuaries work out financial risks, and actuaries use the complex mathematical formulas and statistics that are taught through this subject in their day-to-day work. If you love numbers and data, this’d be a career path that will put that passion to good use.
Actuaries are responsible for reporting on the financial effects of events that will impact the economy – for example, natural disasters like floods or fires. Depending on the likelihood of these events happening, actuaries will advise companies on what precautions to take.
Most actuaries are employed within insurance companies because the work is related specifically to risk, which is the epicentre of the whole insurance industry. Your day will include tasks such as building statistical models to predict risk and producing reports on your findings. The work is very important and many companies rely upon it for setting their prices, so the qualification requirements are quite strict.
A career as an actuary is very financially rewarding and presents opportunities to work all across the globe. Actuaries also benefit from a great work/life balance and job security – you’ll always be in demand in this profession!
Skills & interests required
As your whole day will involve working with numbers, it’s important that you’re proficient with maths to have a successful career in the actuarial industry.
You will also have to work with multiple different teams across a business, so strong communication skills are important, particularly when trying to explain a complex statistical finding to those who are not experts within this field. You’ll also need to be trustworthy and professional, as the information that you will be working with will likely be highly confidential.
Some of the skills that employers in the actuarial industry look for are:
- Strong mathematical ability
- IT skills
- Innovative thinking
- Analytical skills
Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers
The initial CAA qualification that you will pursue in an actuarial apprenticeship will take between two and three years and with this you can become an actuarial technician, or assistant.
After this, you will need to pursue further qualifications from the IFoA to fully qualify as an actuary, which will take a few years to complete.
Once you have some years of experience you could work on a freelance basis for a selection of your own clients, or you could progress in-house to a senior position.
Tips for getting into the field
This is a highly competitive field, so you will need a particularly strong skill set to flourish as an actuary. It’s handy to know what is going to help your CV to stand out against all the other candidates:
- Tailor your CV to specific roles: make sure that you pull out details about the company and highlight why you want to work for them specifically
- Applying for internships and/or work experience: having work experience on your CV will differentiate you from those who have similar academic qualifications
- See what the top companies require: try looking at case studies from some of the big actuarial firms and see what qualifications other school-leavers had on entering the industry
- Get the relevant accreditation: in this case, you’ll need to take the Certified Actuarial Analysis (CAA) qualification or the fellowship exams
A starting salary for an actuarial apprentice is likely to be between £17,000-£25,000. A fully qualified actuary, on average, earns £51,594.
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
To become an actuary you will need to have your CAA (Certified Actuarial Analysis) qualification. The CAA is a professional qualification provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). It consists of 6 computer-based exams and you can study for it online.
To get onto an actuarial apprenticeship you will likely need to have strong A-levels, with at least one of them being maths-related.
Once you have achieved the CAA qualification, you will become an actuarial assistant or junior financial analyst. After this, you will require further study across the course of a few years to become a fully-certified actuary.