The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) is the UK's only chartered professional body dedicated to educating, developing and regulating actuaries based both in the UK and internationally.
What is an actuary?
Actuaries are highly regarded professionals; actuaries are problem solvers and strategic thinkers with a deep understanding of financial systems.
Being an actuary means having highly valued mathematical skills and expertise.
Actuaries come from different academic backgrounds but share a love of maths even if they haven't done a maths degree. When you train as an actuary you'll learn how to analyse data, evaluate financial risks, and communicate this data to non-specialists.
Actuaries use their skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events.
Every area of business is subject to risks so an actuarial career offers many employment options, including banking, insurance, healthcare, pensions, investment but also non-financial areas.
An actuarial career can be one of the most diverse, exciting and rewarding in the world.
Members of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) are part of a globally recognised profession and have internationally-recognised qualifications.
To qualify as an actuary you need to apply to become a student member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).
You then need to pass our exams, or obtain exemptions from them and gain satisfactory level of work-based skills.
Actuarial apprenticeship schemes
For most of the apprenticeship opportunities you will need to have a Mathematics A level at grade A or B, although some companies may look for other subjects.
There are two schemes available for apprenticeships:
1) A trailblazer apprenticeship scheme where you will either take the CT1 exam or the first two modules of the CAA qualification. This is a government run initiative and is assessed at the final stage by City and Guild. This will last around two or three years and will include work experience to ensure you are a truly well-rounded employee at the end.
Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) is a professional qualification provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), available to everyone - you just need to love maths!
The CAA will equip you with useful business and finance skills by developing your technical, strategic and analytical knowledge. The qualification takes 2-3 years to complete.
2) An apprenticeship that is run internally at an employer. You will get to choose what qualification you want to embark on and you will still get the same level or work experience, but the assessment will be done in-house.
Our strategy and objectives Strategy refresh, June 2016 It’s been five years since we published our strategy. In that time, while our mission as an organisation has not changed, the world has moved on. We have refreshed our strategy, not just to reflect the changes in the global landscape today, but to position us and our members as relevant for an uncertain future. Overarching strategy statement To succeed in the Mission and Vision of the IFoA we must deliver a sustainable future for actuarial science. Our strategy recognises that actuaries are a small but global community who are at their strongest when working together as a community, and with our strategy we will raise the reputation and profile of actuaries and the value of their skills in both established and new areas of business. We will drive innovation and research to deliver the highest standards of education, professionalism and support to our members, cementing our position as a leading public interest professional body.
Actuarial Analyst Apprentice, Aon Hewitt, Hertfordshire
Dominic, what made you decide to do an apprenticeship?
Well, I think that in an industry such as consulting, having experience in the workplace and learning on the job is more beneficial to me and my career than having a degree.
What subjects did you enjoy most at school?
At school, maths was always my strongest subject, right from infant school to A-Levels. I loved the feeling of accomplishment having completed a calculation. I also felt that maths was the best and easiest subject to revise for since you know whether you are right or wrong - there is always a final answer.
What would you say to young people considering an apprenticeship?
Go for it! Personally, I was always keen to go into the workplace from school and get my career underway - I was confident I wanted a career with numbers. An actuarial apprenticeship was the perfect fit - I can use my maths skills day to day and continue studying, via the CAA professional qualification. All this whilst gaining experience of a workplace environment and learning from my colleagues, the perfect combination!
Had you heard of the actuarial profession before you decided on your career path?
Before applying for my apprenticeship at Aon I had not heard of the actuarial profession, so I investigated the term 'actuary'. Now that I am working in the retirement and investment department at Aon I have a better overall understanding of the role and because of this, when people ask me what it is I do, I describe my job as financial risk management.
How did you hear about the apprenticeship at Aon Hewitt?
I found the apprenticeship I am doing on the government's apprenticeship website. I think it is a brilliant place to advertise all actuarial apprenticeships (or any apprenticeship for that matter) since it is the initial place that schools and colleges tell students to look and I know that it is the place I searched for apprenticeships most.
Do you think you will go onto complete the CAA professional qualification?
Yes, I would definitely like to complete the CAA since it is globally recognised. With this qualification I have so much scope to either build upon my current actuarial career, take my qualification into a different country or even transfer my skills into a different area of work. It's a brilliant and challenging way to progress myself and build my career at such a young age.
Actuarial Apprentice, Mercer, Manchester
Deborah, what made you decide to do an apprenticeship?
University is a route I had always expected I would take. Teachers and family had always described it as an inevitable next step after college but, the truth is, university is not for everyone. I feel that unless you are 100% enthusiastic about a university education or have your eye on a career that is, at present, only achievable with a degree, you should take a look at other alternatives. As someone who really enjoyed their part time job and the hands on experience that having a job offers, an apprenticeship was the ideal and logical step into working life that suited my personality and skills.
So inspirational Deborah! What did you excel in at college?
At college I tried to do as much maths as I could possibly do! I enjoyed science and languages but it was my interest in mathematics that motivated me to pursue an actuarial career.
How did you hear about the apprenticeship at Mercer?
My search for potential employers started on the internet. Mercer was one employer listed on the government apprenticeships website as having had an apprenticeship scheme, Karen Bennett was listed as contact, so I enquired as to whether Mercer were recruiting.
Tell us a bit about what you do day to day?
The great thing about my role is that no two days are the same. I am involved in a wide variety of work including individual member calculations, funding updates, member communications, trustee action logs. When I started work at Mercer, I'd not expected to be involved in such a variety of different projects so early on. I'm treated like a graduate and trusted to produce work to the same level and quality - which is great, a real confidence boost!
What's it like going straight from school into a job?
Between A-Levels and starting my apprenticeship, I took a gap year and worked as an au pair, in a ski resort and in a hotel. Those jobs could be quite full on and certainly required personal organisation and initiative. This helped me make the transition and also helped me to decide that I preferred the world of work to a university environment. Being in a professional firm is different again but I found I really enjoyed it from day one.
What's next for you?
Given the opportunity, I hope to be able to start the Fellowship exams before completing the CAA. So I don't expect to gain the full CAA qualification but do plan to become a qualified actuary!
Actuarial Apprentice, Aon Hewitt, Surrey
Zeenat, what made you decide to do an apprenticeship?
Well, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study at university, and I really just wanted to get into the world of work and start networking with people of all ages rather than just people my own age. Also, I wanted to get my foot in the door and start early! I wanted to develop valuable skills whilst gaining a great qualification and a salary. Because of it, I have been able to do things many of my friends haven't been able to do because they went to university, like go on holiday, buy a new car and start looking for my own home.
So inspirational! So what did you excel in at school which meant finance felt right for you?
At school I did well in subjects that were maths related, so maths and statistics, chemistry and biology. I'm really into dance too, but soon realised that I wanted to take the mathematical route!
Had you heard of the actuarial profession before you embarked on your career path?
Yes, I had heard of it very briefly through my own browsing of potential future career paths, but I had never really understood the role or what was needed or required.
How did you hear about the apprenticeship at Aon Hewitt?
I heard about the apprenticeship through my college, they sent an email around about the opportunity, I was interested straight away and applied as soon as I could. I was delighted when I was selected, it felt like my career was really going to take off - this idea of earning and learning was so exciting and I couldn't wait to get started with the qualification and apprenticeship.
Give us an idea of what it's like day to day for an apprentice?
I do a lot of the same work as a new graduate would do so never feel like I am behind, whilst also having the opportunity to speak to consultants on a daily basis to practise my people and networking skills
What's next for you?
Given the opportunity I would love to complete the CAA qualification. However, I'm also keen to explore the opportunity that the full actuarial qualification offers - it's just great to have options.