‘Being an actuary is the best job you probably haven’t heard of’ – Philip Arthur, XPS Pensions Group. If you are looking for an opportunity to apply your mathematical skills to real life problems, then the actuarial profession could be for you.

Much of an actuary’s work is about risk management; they predict and measure emerging risks and then help reduce them by putting financial safeguards in place.

An actuary analyses past and present data in order to solve real business problems. Therefore, they have a deep understanding of how businesses operate. Actuaries keep up to date with legislative changes, long-term demographic trends and have a high degree of commercial and economic awareness.

Depending on where their career takes them, an actuary could be involved in determining the cost of insurance premiums, advising a company on their pension’s plans or managing financial assets and liabilities.

An actuary has excellent communication skills and will offer expert advice on difficult topics to non-specialists on a regular basis.

Entry requirements

The actuarial profession demands a high level of academic attainment, regardless of whether you are a graduate or a school leaver.

The traditional route into a career as an actuary is to achieve at least a 2:1 in a numerical undergraduate degree or equivalent, and a B at Maths A Level. However, joining the actuarial profession straight out of school is becoming more common and in this case, employers would typically require 5 GCSEs at grade A*-C, including a grade B in Maths (or grade 6 if you have taken your GCSEs in 2017 or later).

How do you become a qualified actuary?

To become a qualified actuary, you must complete at least three years’ of practical experience alongside your professional exams. A lot of actuarial firms support trainees by covering the cost of exams and study.

Where can I work as an actuary?

Traditionally, actuaries are found working in the following areas:

  • Life and general insurance
  • Pensions
  • Risk Management
  • Finance and Investment
  • Banking

However, actuaries are also moving into other areas of the financial sector where their analytical skills can be employed, such as banking and capital project management. We go into more detail about where a career as an actuary can take you in our Areas of Work article here.

What next?

Find out more about the actuarial profession, interview and application tips as well as first-hand accounts of actuarial internships and graduate roles on our website.

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