If you’ve never heard of the term before, actuarial science if the judgement of financial risk through maths and statistics, in order to inform the finance, insurance and other industries. This then allows these businesses to decide on whether they are able to offer insurance cover, or a policy, and for what price, or to decide on a business strategy.

Now, you might think that this might be incredibly boring, and indeed, “what’s this to do with me?”, but if you are looking at career options and enjoy maths, statistics, economics or business, then this could be for you….

There are two routes to getting into actuarial science – the A Level and Degree route, or through an apprenticeship. The starting salary of an actuarial apprentice is around £17,000 to £25,000, and as a newly qualified actuarist, you can expect to earn at least £51,000…but which is the best route for you?

The most common route into being an actuarist is going to uni, as most employers will require a 2:1 degree or better, and get onto an actuarial science degree, you’ll need mathematics A Level, alongside similarly rigorous subjects. If you take the alternative apprenticeship route, then again, excellent GCSE and A Level results are a pre-requisite.

Aside from having qualifications, understandably, you’ll need to enjoy mathematics, but being able to communicate is essential in order to relay what you have found out. Using IT will also form a big part of analysis, so you’ll also need to feel comfortable doing this. Other essential skills include being analytical, strong teamwork abilities, and of course, to be fully literate.

After undertaking basic qualifications, either through university or an apprenticeship, the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), who represent the industry, offers further qualifications and examinations to those working in the industry, to broaden your CV, keep your professional skills up to date, and to differentiate you from the competition when it come to taking on a new role.

In terms of longer career prospects, after 10 – 15 years in the industry, you can expect to earn more than £60,000, with salaries of £200,000+ not uncommon for directors, so it’s definitely a career worth considering if mathematics is your thing. Long hours can sometimes be needed, and self-employment is uncommon– there is a core of actuarial science providers with longstanding reputations, which most large businesses will approach, so the option of “going it alone” is rare. Opportunities can be found throughout the UK, with the largest number of roles unsurprisingly available in London.

Currently, you’ll find vacancies available in:

  • Banking and corporate finance
  • Investment
  • Insurance
  • Pensions

The industry is currently a male-heavy profession, although steps are being taken to address this, and you’ll find that it is largely staffed by younger people, with 40%+ being younger than 30 years of age.

Progression once qualified can be quick, and you can soon see rapid progression into responsibility for projects and people once qualified. Career changes once qualified are possible, and forays into wider business, including general management, marketing and sales are option.