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Actuaries give business advice after making predictions on the long-term financial future. They base their predictions on statistics, economics and maths.
They may work for the government, advising on such issues as state pensions and benefits. Or they may work in a consultancy capacity, giving guidance on the risk factor of investment opportunities. Actuaries also commonly work in life assurance and pensions.
Actuaries look at past events, build statistical models on computers, assess risks and work out the possible variable outcomes based on numerous situations. They report their findings accordingly.
How to become an Actuary
Candidates need to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in order to be able to work as an Actuary.
This is achieved by a candidate finding work as a trainee actuary, studying for their exams at the same time as working. They register with the Institute as a student at this stage.
The minimum entry requirements for the training are two A-Levels, including a grade B in maths, or the equivalent.
Most candidates possess a degree instead, and requirements in this instance are for a minimum of a Third when the subject is actuarial science or maths-based.
Those with degrees in other subjects may apply, as long as they have a First or Second class result, and maths A-Level to at least grade C.
Work experience may help a candidate in securing a trainee placement, and the Directory of Actuarial Employers – UK and Ireland provides information on companies who offer such opportunities.
Training takes three to five years in order for a candidate to become an Associate of the profession. A trainee can expect to study an average of 15 hours a week on top of their full-time work in the office. With further specialist study and examinations, a candidate can become a Fellow, specialising in a particular field.
Skills and knowledge required
- A technical mind
- Excellent mathematical skills, especially in the field of statistics
- Good communication skills
- Brilliant analytical skills
- The ability to make difficult decisions
- Strong computer skills
- Good business acumen
Trainee Actuaries earn around £30,000. Qualified Actuaries often earn about £45,000, while those in senior positions usually command salaries between £48,000 and £66,000.
Those that work up to management positions are paid anywhere between £80,000 and £150,000.
Typical hours are Monday to Friday, from 9am until 5pm. There are usually part-time opportunities available as well.
www.actuaries.org.uk – The Actuarial Profession
www.acted.co.uk – The Actuarial Education Company
www.fssc.org.uk – Financial Services Skills Council