A career in actuarial work will suit you if you have strong mathematical ability, are good at problem solving and enjoy analysing data
As an analyst, you will use statistical formulas to assess risk. For example, in life insurance, this could involve working out average life expectancies for different groups in the population to determine the policy premiums that should be charged.
Analysts use specialist computational software and spreadsheets, so an interest and aptitude for using IT is helpful. You could work in various areas of the financial services industry and will often be engaged in a support role within an actuarial team.
You will usually specialise in one of the following areas:
As an actuarial analyst, you will:
Benefits can include a company pension scheme, medical insurance, gym membership and other discounted insurance options.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Hours are usually 9am to 5.30pm. You may need to work some evenings and weekends, especially when working on complex projects, such as marketing campaigns or year-end returns to the pensions regulator.
Paid overtime is rare, although some organisations will offer time off in lieu.
Entry to training as an actuarial analyst does not necessarily require a degree and you can study for CAA exams before obtaining a relevant job.
The minimum entry requirement for the FIA route to qualify as an actuary is an A-level in mathematics at grade B or above. However, most entrants have a degree in a numerate subject such as mathematics. Other relevant degree subjects include:
There are also specific degrees in actuarial science which can provide some exemptions from professional examinations. Companies usually look for applicants with a 2:1 or a first-class degree, although there are exceptions to this.
Search for postgraduate courses in actuarial science.
If you wish to become a qualified actuary (FIA), you will need to take several examinations while working as an analyst or trainee actuary.
You will need to demonstrate:
Although prior commercial experience is not essential, you will be at an advantage if you gain some in financial services, particularly insurance, either as part of your degree or after graduation. Other work experience in any role or sector is also looked upon favorably, especially if you can demonstrate relevant transferable skills.
It may be possible to undertake paid summer internships in a relevant company, while at university. Some larger companies such as the 'big four' consultancies advertise actuarial internships. For a paid six-week summer internship, typical requirements are a predicted relevant 2:1 degree with 340 UCAS points, or a predicted first class degree and 240 UCAS points. There are also opportunities to undertake 12-month paid internships.
Some smaller companies may not advertise, so you will need to make speculative applications to enquire about opportunities. You should include examples in your CV of any opportunities you have had to gain relevant skills, for example, numeracy, data analysis, IT and problem solving, from your degree, or from other work experience including part-time and vacation work.
Actuarial analysts are found in a range of large to medium sized organisations, including the 'big four' consultancies, as well as other financial services companies and all major insurers.
Work is located in most major cities, in particular:
Some of these are pan-European or international so opportunities to work overseas are common, though for trainees these would be few in number.
Look for job vacancies at:
Recruitment agencies include:
Entrants can either train as a Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) or work towards becoming a professional actuary with recognition as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries (FIA), or Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries (FFA).
The CAA has no entry requirements and can be studied via part-time distance learning through the IFoA over the course of two to three years. The CAA is a professional qualification, which not only enables you to become an actuarial analyst, but also equips you with transferable skills. These enable you to work in any analytical role across other sectors, for example, as a business analyst or climate analyst.
For those wishing to study for the CAA or professional actuarial examinations paid study time is usually available, perhaps half a day a week.
The skills and expertise of actuarial analysts are in demand as most of the work relates to a dynamic area of the financial services sector, notably pensions and life insurance. Those with highly developed numerical and analytical skills will find opportunities for graduate entry positions. There is fierce competition for entry roles, similar to accountancy and banking.
Once you have achieved the CAA qualification and qualified as an actuarial analyst, it is possible to progress and take the FIA exams to gain recognition as a qualified actuary. Alternatively, you can seek senior positions as a senior actuarial analyst.
Undertaking the professional exams to become a fully qualified actuary provides the greatest opportunity for progression in the profession. From there, you can progress further to senior roles or consultancy work.
You can find comprehensive information on the types of roles and areas of speciality within the sector, along with details of the CAA qualifications, from the IFoA.