If you’re a whizz with numbers, an innovative thinker and a skillful problem solver, a career as an actuary could be the perfect fit for you.

An actuary analyses past and present data in order to solve real business problems. 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.

Actuaries have a deep understanding of how businesses operate; they have to keep up to date with legislative changes, long-term demographic trends and have general 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.

You will develop the ability to give expert advice to actuaries and non-actuaries alike. Becoming an actuary will involve dealing with those not in the profession and with the general public, so the ability to communicate and articulate complex topics to non-specialists is of paramount importance.

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).

What Skills do I need to be an actuary?

As well as numerical skills, there are other skills actuaries have that helps them succeed in their careers such as:

  • Excellent academics – This comes with the territory of being an actuary, the role needs someone who is great with numbers and can analyse data efficiently. These skills can be demonstrated through your academics and extracurricular achievements.
  • Excellent communication skills – Part of an actuary’s role is analysing large amounts of data and being able to communicate their findings in a clear manner to their clients; so excellent communication skills are key.
  • Strong numeric and logic skills – As mentioned previously numerical skills are essential to being an actuary. However, being logical in the way you work is an important part of being an actuary as you can decipher and analyse date to help solve business issues in a logical manner.
  • Never be afraid to ask questions – In any career, particularly with an actuarial career, it is important to ask questions and be inquisitive. This is in order to learn more about your role and responsibilities as an actuary when starting out; and to make sure you are providing the right solutions for your clients as you progress in your career.

How do you become a qualified actuary?

The actuarial profession attracts some of the brightest, creative and most ambitious candidates – all of which are necessary qualities both before and after your qualification. 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.

What qualifications do I need to become an actuary?

To become an actuary, generally most employers expect a minimum of a 2:1 degree in preferably numerate subjects – such as those with degrees in Mathematics, Statistics, Actuarial Science, Economics, Business degrees, Engineering, physics and Chemistry. Some companies such as Willis Towers Watson ask for a minimum of a 2:1 degree depending on the role you are applying for. Employers also require excellent A-levels from potential candidates. Normally, companies ask for a minimum requirement of 300 UCAS points (BBB) however, some companies require even higher grades; asking for 320 (ABB) or 340 (AAB) UCAS points.

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.

What next?

If you have found this overview of the actuarial profession interesting, then take a look at the seven reasons why we think you should become an actuary. 

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