How To Become an Actuary

Author · Modified on 14 September, 2022

If you’re a strategic thinker who loves problem solving and maths, an actuary could be the right career for you. 

Actuaries use their skills in mathematics and strategizing to help them measure risk, and the probability of risk, for future events. It can be a rewarding career, used to predict the financial impact of potential future risks on clients and businesses and is largely associated with the insurance industry.

Organisations use actuaries to help them safely plan for the future, and the events that could potentially come with this. They are experts in risk management, and are extremely valuable for businesses navigating the rapidly-changing landscape of the modern world. 

Thinking of pursuing a career as an actuary? Throughout this guide, we’ll be taking you through some FAQs on this job description, including responsibilities of an actuary, the qualifications and skills you’ll need to pursue this career, and what type of salary to expect. 


Skills of an Actuary


Actuaries are highly skilled professionals, who hold a range of different abilities within the fields of mathematics, problem solving and strategic thinking. Some of the main skills you’ll be required to have for this career include: 

  • Good numeracy skills
  • Highly analytical
  • Good research and problem-solving skills
  • Great communication skills
  • Able to communicate and work well in teams
  • Strong IT skills

One integral quality you’ll need as an actuary is a passion for the job, and the determination and self-discipline to pursue a career in this industry.

how to become an actuary

What Industries Do Actuaries Work in?


  • Predominantly insurance (general, health, life, vehicle)
  • Pensions
  • Healthcare
  • Finance and investment
  • Academia


Responsibilities of an Actuary


Actuaries have a range of different responsibilities attached to their position. Below is a list with just some of the main responsibilities you could expect to have as an actuary: 


  • Analyse data needed to make calculations for projects
  • Determine the probability and risk of certain events through the use of mathematical modelling techniques as well as statistical concepts
  • Prepare and present reports on your calculations to clients
  • Advise on certain issues utilising your actuary skillset


You’ll also be required to work with other professionals on certain projects to ensure your calculations are utilised effectively and in compliance with regulatory bodies. Therefore, effective communication and people skills can also be required for the job. This is explored in greater detail under the “Skills Needed” section of our guide.

You’ll also typically be required to work around 40 hours a week. However, this will depend upon the employment you find yourself in and the clients you get. It’s been noted that actuaries have a good work/life balance compared to other types of financial services positions on similar pay (including those in investment banking). 


Qualifications Needed to Be an Actuary


A career as an actuary is open to any graduate with a strong skillset in mathematics. Those considering a career as an actuary may boost their chances of this with the following types of degrees: 


  • Actuarial Mathematics
  • Actuarial science 
  • Mathematics
  • Risk Management
  • Business
  • Finance


If you hold a good, maths-based degree, you can then go down the route of securing a student actuary role, start your IFoA exams, become an IFoA Associate and then become a Fellow.

Most Institute and Faculty of Actuaries entrants in the UK hold degrees ranging from first to second class honours. However, you might also be able to pursue a career as an actuary with an actuarial apprenticeship.

You’ll also have to hold at least a grade B in A-level mathematics as well as a grade C in another A-level. 

For more information, see (for UK) or (for US)


Starting Salaries for an Actuary


Graduate actuaries can typically expect their starting salary to range anywhere between £25,000 – £35,000. This goes up to around £40,000 – £55,000 for newly qualified actuarial analysts and consultants. 

After this, senior actuarial analysts can earn salaries of around £70,000, with chiefs and partners known to earn around £200,000. 

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