Why Become an Actuary? What you need to know to decide
Published: 04 Jan 2013
Why Become an Actuary?
If you are looking for an opportunity to apply your mathematical skills to real life problems, then the actuarial profession could be for you.
An actuarial career is a very stable and secure one. It is relatively recession proof: our society will continue to demand pensions and insurance whatever the state of the economy. The actuarial environment also offers constant intellectual challenge and variety, requiring the application of a multi-faceted skill set. To be successful you will need to demonstrate excellent analytical thinking and an ability to solve complicated financial problems. Solid commercial and economic understanding alongside the skills to interpret and communicate complex information in a clear way, is also essential.
A prestigious industry
Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) is relatively small compared to other professional bodies. With over 22,000 members you will become part of a highprofile, prestigious and well respected profession. You will work towards a world-recognised qualification. The exam syllabus reflects the latest developments within finance and industry. It is not easy to qualify and you must be willing to work hard to get through the rigorous examinations alongside performing well in your day job. On average between 15 and 20 hours study at home in the evenings and weekends are required per week. This requires great focus, determination and an ability to cope well under pressure. The training can be undertaken at your own pace; the usual time to qualification is between three to six years, but could be longer.
Excellent study support and training
The help and support given by employers is generous, although this will vary from employer to employer. The training company provides a great deal of assistance. Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) can review any failed exams and give you pointers as to what went wrong. Exam failure is a part of life: very few get through all papers first time.
It is important to assess what training support and help is offered by the employer; how much paid (or unpaid) study leave is given; whether they pay for all the external tuition and exam costs; what their attitude is to any hiccups with exams; how varied the training placements offered are; what the longer-term opportunities are.
A wide range of opportunities
The range of opportunities within the profession continues to grow. Actuarial careers used to be found mainly in the life insurance and non-life insurance industries. There are some qualified actuaries in the UK and over half now work in these non-traditional areas. Qualified and trainee actuaries are now to be found in investment management, corporate finance, liquidations, mergers and acquisitions, derivatives, fund and asset management, project finance and risk assessment.
Graduate entry salaries are offered from £25,000 to £35,000, newly qualified actuaries can command in excess of £55,000, and senior positions can attract £100,000 plus. A very satisfying and clearly defined career progression is there for the taking for highly motivated and driven individuals.