The role of actuary is a highly respected and sought after role around the world, and such is the high level of training required to qualify, it is difficult actually becoming one. The process is long, arduous and requires great commitment and hard work as well as significant mathematical ability. The profession itself is a global one, and qualifications are generally internationally recognised throughout a range of industries.
First and foremost, to become an actuary you need the right characteristics. You should be mathematically minded, and generally enjoy problem solving and strategic thinking. You should also generally have either a knowledge of or interest in financial systems. Inevitably, being hard working and professionally minded also helps. Other key skills such as data analysis, risk evaluation, communication and management can be built up over time and through training, but a base ability in the above will certainly help you on your way.
Should one wish to take on the training, it is advisable to start with the right early qualifications. Maths through to A-Level is a must, and Further Maths at that level is also advised. It is not essential, but strongly recommended to take a statistical degree: specific actuarial courses are available across the UK’s universities, but combined degrees such as Maths and Actuarial Sciences are also possible. For most employers, any subject is OK but it is preferable to have a numerate degree such as economics, engineering or physics if not maths. They would expect a 2:1 or better.
The next step is to get into training. You will need to join an actuarial firm to develop your skills alongside qualification. Alongside this work you’ll need to register as an actuarial student – which most employers will help with – to register for the many exams you’ll need to pass. Study will usually require between 3 and 6 years for completion.
It’s not easy once you pass your exams though; actuarial vacancies are not easy to come by, and competition is high despite the competitive niche. But don’t let that put you off, once you’re done with exams, you’re done for good, and you’ll be able to find a range of career paths and roles within the field right the way across the globe.