What are the different educational options for actuaries?

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There are many different routes you can take on your journey towards becoming a qualified actuary. Any route taken will eventually lead towards the industry standard exams, which you need to pass to become a fully qualified actuary. You will take these exams over a number of years while working as an actuary. If you study an accredited university course you can gain exam exemptions for some of the exams.

Whether you want to go straight into the working world or meet new people and take in the full university experience there are still many ways to become an actuary. Here, we run through the options that will be available to you on the road towards becoming a qualified actuary.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great way for school leavers to get hands on experience in an actuarial role. You will get a chance to network with others, earn as you learn on the job, benefit from a structured programme, avoid taking on student debt, and progress in your career quickly. You will receive formal training in actuarial science and be able to train on the job, with one day off a week to study for exams.

The Level 4 actuarial technician apprenticeship will start you on your journey to becoming a fully qualified Certified Actuarial Analyst. On completion you may complete your CAA examinations and qualify as a Certified Actuarial Analyst, or you may wish to consider a joining a Level 7 apprenticeship which will begin your journey to qualify as an Actuary with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA).

You may face some challenges if you choose the apprenticeship route. For example, some people find they miss out on the benefits of full-time education, starting salaries for apprenticeships can be lower than those for graduates, and if you decide to change careers in a few years you may need to retrain or possibly study for an undergraduate degree.

University degree

Employers often look for graduates with a 2:1 or above in maths-based subjects including, physics, economics, chemistry, mathematics, actuarial science, statistics, and engineering. If you choose to take a non maths-based degree and decide you want to pursue a career in actuarial science, all is not lost. You can take one of the IFoA’s examinations as a non-member to help you understand if the type and content of the assessments are something you would be able to cope with. In turn, this can also help you to develop a better understanding of the skills you’ll need to develop to continue an actuarial career.

Master’s Degree

If you still want more actuarial experience after you complete a university degree within an educational environment, you can take on a master’s degree in actuarial science. This will give you an understanding of how to combine mathematics, data analysis, economics, and management skills to address the needs of the finance industry. As you progress through your degree, it is possible to earn exemptions from some of the exams you will have to take in order to qualify as an actuary, but this depends on the course. More information on exemptions can be found here.

The benefits of pursuing a master’s in actuarial science are that you can focus on learning specifically about actuarial work before starting a career, gain exemptions for some exams, and you will get a good grounding in subjects like economics, finance, mathematics and statistics. Having a working knowledge of all of these subjects could make you suitable for a variety of careers in the finance industry. However, if you already have the technical skills needed, relevant work experience, and have passed 2 or 3 exams as part of your previous study, then you probably already have everything you need to get a trainee job in actuarial science.

 

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