What do actuaries actually do?

What do actuaries actually do? While we can all imagine the day to day life of a doctor or a teacher, when pushed most people would struggle to name anything that is a part of the normal schedule of an actuary. We’re here to demystify the world of actuarial science to give you a heads up on how to talk to your child about a career in this profession.

Whether you know they want to go into the profession or they seem to possess the aptitude for the maths-based subjects needed to succeed as an actuary, it is important you know how to guide them down the right career path.

Here, we explain exactly what actuarial science is, why it is a sought-after and necessary skill, and which subjects are needed to become an actuary.

What is the main part of the job of an actuary?

To put it simply, an actuary manages risk. This involves analysing data from the past and the present to measure the probability of future events. Actuaries are often used to determine the likelihood of a scenario happening, find ways to reduce risk and predict the potential financial cost of an event. Actuaries are involved in all aspects of business including planning insurance premiums, calculating pension plans, and managing financial assets and liabilities. They are also involved in many emerging fields such as data science, cyber security, and climate change.

Where does an actuary work?

Since actuaries provide vital information on the future of businesses, they are an important part of the financial industry. You’ll often find actuaries working in the insurance industry, corporate finance, banking, consultancies, investment management, and healthcare.

What skills do you need?

As they need to work with numbers all day, an aptitude for maths, economics, and statistics is a necessity. It is also important to have an understanding of business management in order to help businesses grow. This includes following demographic trends, legislative changes, and fluctuations in the financial market.

If your child is interested in being an actuary, other skills they will need to possess include:

  • attention to detail
  • strong communication skills
  • logical thinking
  • ability to work well in a team
  • problem-solving

What do you need to study?

Many employers look for university graduates with a degree in the following subjects:

  • Maths and statistics
  • Accounting
  • Science
  • Economics
  • Physics
  • Actuarial science

To reach this goal it is helpful for your child to choose subjects like mathematics, business studies, physics, economics, philosophy, and computer science to study at school. Communication-based subjects like English, drama, or politics are also helpful as well. Look out too for university courses in actuarial science. Many of these offer exemptions against the professional examinations.

How do you become an actuary?

You can start a career as an actuary as a graduate or a non-graduate. Many companies offer apprenticeships for those interested in pursuing a career in actuarial science. These offer an opportunity to gain formal training in the industry and hands-on experience in the role.

As well as on-the-job work and at least three years of practical experience, trainees must pass industry standard exams to fully qualify as an actuary. Trainees are often supported by the firm they are working in. Depending on the employer, this support could be shown through help with the cost of the exams and by providing study leave.

What is the career path of an actuary?

Actuarial science is a highly sought-after field with many options for trainees. The starting salary in the UK, on average, is around £32,000, which can increase considerably as you complete exams and rise in seniority. Once qualified, many actuaries go on to specialise in a traditional field, such as insurance or finance.

Why should someone become an actuary?

Actuaries play an important role in both established and emerging business sectors. Many of the most important decisions in politics, technology, and healthcare have passed through the desks of an actuary at some point. It can be incredibly satisfying to be a part of the strategic decisions that impact the world we live in. As well as being financially rewarding, an actuarial career is an opportunity to be part of the finance industry, enjoy a rewarding career, and still have a healthy work/life balance.

If you would like to find out more about becoming an actuary, visit our Become an Actuary website page. 

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