An actuary can work in a wide range of roles, in various industries. Actuaries can be found in insurance, pensions, even banking.
But what if you are an actuary looking for a change? Or are thinking about becoming an actuary but want to keep your options open? You may be wondering whether actuaries can become accountants.
So, can actuaries become accountants? In this article we look at what an actuary is, how to become one, and whether actuaries can become accountants.
What is an actuary?
An actuary is mainly involved in risk management. They use data from both the past and present to solve real business problems and predict and measure emerging risks. Once they have measured those risks they help business reduce them by putting financial safeguards in place.
Depending on where an actuary works, they could advise companies on their pension plans, managing financial assets, measuring the risk of an investment or determining the cost of insurance premiums.
How do you become an actuary?
There are two ways you can become an actuary; either through school or through university.
Going to university then entering the profession through a graduate scheme is the most common way to become an actuary. These graduate programmes offer on the job training and support, giving you the chance to learn on the job while being fully supported to achieve your actuarial qualifications.
Graduate programmes typically last three years, though qualification to become a fully qualified actuary can take longer, sometimes between four and six years. There are a number of graduate roles available in investment management, insurance, pensions and even working for the government. You may also find graduate roles in areas including risk management and finance.
You can find out more about life on an actuarial graduate scheme here.
What qualifications do I need to join an actuarial graduate programme?
To become an actuary you need a high degree of academic attainment. Many employers ask for at least a 2.1 degree in a maths-related subject such as mathematics, statistics or economics. It is also beneficial for you to have at least some work experience in the actuarial field, either via an internship or a placement. You can find out more about actuarial work experience here.
Another way to get into the actuarial profession is to join straight out of school after A-Levels. More and more actuarial employers are offering school leaver schemes or apprenticeships to those who feel that university may not be right for them, for whatever reason.
Actuarial school leaver schemes vary in length, though are often between four and six years and offer you a chance to gain work experience while working towards a qualification. By the time you are finished, you will have the same education as a graduate entering the profession but with the added work experience.
What qualifications do I need to join an actuarial school leaver scheme?
Competition for an actuarial school leaver team is high due to increasing university fees and the increasing desire to get straight into the world of work. As with graduate schemes, you need a high level of academic attainment, and many employers ask for at least a grade B at A-Level.
You can read more about actuarial school leaver schemes here.
What is an accountant?
We’ve discussed what an actuary is, now let’s look at the accountant.
An accountant is responsible for compiling financial records. They work for businesses, governments and individuals to help ensure that their finances are in check and they are running efficiently and accurately. There are a few different types of accountancy; Chartered Accountancy, Management Accountancy and Public Finance Accounting, each have different areas of work and different qualifications.
Accountants are found in every profession, and should you become an accountant you can work for a firm with several clients, or in-house for one particular company.
How do you become an accountant?
As mentioned, there are a few different types of accounting and each of these have different qualifications.
However, most types of accountancy require a qualification that usually takes around three years to complete. This is often done through an accountancy graduate scheme though accountancy school leaver schemes are also becoming increasingly common. You can find out more about becoming an accountant here.
Can an actuary become an accountant?
In this article we have discussed what an actuary is and how to qualify, what an accountant is and how to qualify but we have yet to answer the title of the article; can an actuary become an accountant?
The short answer is yes, they can, but the move is not as easy as just changing jobs.
The actuarial and accountancy profession are vastly different, and while some skills overlap, such as the penchant for maths and ability to communicate with a wide range of people, you still need separate qualifications for each profession. This means that an actuary would have to go through the accountancy qualifications before they can become a practicing accountant.
In terms of skills, an actuary would be well suited to a career in accountancy. Their high level of mathematical ability and communication skills developed while an actuary will put them in good stead when it comes to working with clients and external stakeholders as an accountant.
How would an actuary become an accountant?
If an experienced actuary is looking to make a career change, then it is likely that this will have to be self-funded (which is possible) rather than going through an employer. However, if you are an actuarial student looking to become an accountant after university, then applying for an accountancy graduate scheme would be your best option in this scenario.
Which is better; actuary vs. accountant
We have established that an actuary can become an accountant, but it will require some extra work to get there.
So, is it worth it?
There are pros and cons to each profession, both require similar skills such as a high mathematical ability and good communication skills. Both professions have the potential for excellent career progression and high financial reward, but they are some differences. An actuarial career is one that is highly numerical and involves a lot of data. An accountancy career, however, involves working closely with clients and various different stakeholders.
No one profession is better than the other, it entirely depends on your strengths and in which direction you want your career to head. For more comparisons on the two professions, read our article here.
In conclusion, actuaries can become accountants. However, an experienced actuary will still have to take their accountancy qualifications as they are two different professions with different qualifications. An actuarial student, however, will be able to join an accountancy graduate scheme where they can work towards their qualification on the job.
Whether an actuary would like to become an accountant, however, is a different story. Ultimately, it comes down to preference, as both professions offer high financial reward, great career progression and are considered highly rewarding careers.