Knowing what entry requirements you need to get your dream career as an actuary is only half the battle, you will also need to know what skills graduate employers look for beyond your qualifications. The IFoA explain a few important skills you would need to be an actuary…
Actuaries are problem solvers and strategic thinkers who use their skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events. You must be bright, determined and ready to work hard. You’ll also need to have a real passion for maths and a desire to use these skills to really make a difference. However, it’s not all about maths; here are just some of the other skills you should develop if you want to become an actuary.
What soft skills do actuarial employers look for?
As an actuary you will need to be able to communicate complex technical concepts to your colleagues, who may not have a deep understanding of mathematics or statistics, in a way that is easy for them to understand. Being able to express your ideas in a simple but confident way can help you build trust with your colleagues and become a leader in your field.
Business and Financial Knowledge
As an actuary your colleagues and clients will rely on you to help them make strategic decisions. Having an understanding of how businesses are structured and the world of economics, can help you apply your skills and experience in a strategic way that supports wider business objectives.
Breaking down problems and finding effective solutions is a regular part of your day as an actuary. You will be presented with a variety of problems that you will need to solve in a calm and effective way, making problem solving an essential skill for all actuaries.
Another essential skill you will develop as an actuary is critical thinking. As an actuary you will be presented with vast amounts of information; not all of which will be useful or relevant to the problem you are solving. Understanding what is important and the different approaches you can take, will help you reach the best outcome for your clients and colleagues.
The actuarial profession is a hugely rewarding career, but like many professions it can take time to progress. There are a number of exams to complete before you qualify which you will complete while working. You will need to be organised, motivated and most of all be determined to succeed.
Actuaries will find themselves juggling multiple projects and you may find yourself working to tight deadlines, so time management is a must.
What hard skills do actuarial employers look for?
There are a number of other practical skills that you may want to develop; to get a head start in your career.
Specialised maths knowledge
Actuaries possess exceptional mathematical, analytical, communication and management skills. These skills help to form many high-level strategic decisions made by large companies and governments, impacting legislation, businesses and peoples’ lives.
Good business sense
This includes knowledge of accounting and economics.
Strong computer skills
Formulating spreadsheets, statistical analysis programs, database manipulation and programming are all beneficial skills that employers look for. Excel is widely used within the actuarial profession making it a vital skill to pick up. You may want to consider learning the basics of some programming languages such as VBA, SQL, SAS or R. Although many employers will teach you these skills on the job, any specialist knowledge that you have picked up through your degree or work experience should be highlighted. Don’t forget, your skills do not equate with your qualifications, and should be treated separately.
Both soft and hard skills are equally important; particularly as a graduate you may not have acquired some of the more specialist hard skills quite yet.