Thinking about becoming an actuary? Dive in and explore this interesting career path for those with strong skills in maths.

What is actuarial science?

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.

What qualifications do I need to become an actuary?

There are several ways you can into actuarial science – the A Level and degree route, or through an apprenticeship. But how do you know which is the best route for you?

The most common route into being an actuarist is going to university, 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.

Another route into this profession is to apply directly if you already work in a related field such as risk management, financial services or business analysis.

What is the typical salary for an actuary?

Becoming an actuary is currently one of the highest paid careers out there.

Graduate actuaries can expect to earn up to around £32,000, and over time this will increase gradually to £50,000 or more.

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.

Is is difficult being an actuary?

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.

Where can I find actuary vacancies?

Opportunities can be found throughout the UK, with the largest number of roles unsurprisingly available in London. The following websites will have open actuary vacancies for you to browse:

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.

Further information

For more tips and advice on becoming an actuary, please see: