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Is an Actuarial Career for You?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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If you love maths, have an analytical mind and are looking for a financial job then an actuarial career may be right for you. Training to be a qualified actuary is tough but there are big financial rewards and good career prospects to this challenging career.

What Are Actuaries?

Actuaries are professionals who supply financial advice in areas such as assets and liabilities where long term planning is vital.

Risk analysis is a big part of actuarial work, and actuaries analyse past events and use methods whereby they can predict future financial outcomes. Actuaries work in a number of commercial and financial fields, and a large number work within the insurance sector.

Qualifications for Actuarial Careers

The training to be an actuary is intense and A level maths is the starting block. Around 95% of actuaries have some form of related degree such as maths, economics, business, and statistics. Once employed, a trainee is looking at five or six years of training along with weekly study. To become a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries a trainee must pass nine different exams, the exams are intense and not many people pass all of the exams the first time.

Salaries in Actuarial Careers

A trainee actuary in an insurance company should expect to receive around £25,000 per year. Once qualified the actuary should receive an average of around £50,000. This figure will differ depending on the actual job and company, and those in major cities can usually expect more. Those who decide to specialise can earn higher salaries. All exams, study time off and study tutorials for actuarial exams are usually paid for by the employers.

Actuarial Careers

Qualified actuaries have a great many career choices. At the moment figures show that an actuarial career is seen as a zero unemployment profession, which is good if you value security. There is a great amount of scope for diversity within this career, and actuarial jobs can include:
  • Company financial officers
  • Company chief executives
  • Company technology officers
  • Investments actuaries
  • Self employed actuaries and consultants
  • Mergers and acquisitions actuaries
  • Directors of marketing and finance

Opportunities in Insurance

A high percentage of actuaries are employed within insurance companies for their analytic skills when assessing risk. In the insurance and pension provider sectors the long term view is a key factor to the products they sell, and this is where actuary skills are vital. Insurance companies look to actuaries to assess probability and risk within their services and products, which is why mathematic and analytical skills are so important.

One of the growth areas that actuaries deal in is the takeover or merging of companies within the insurance provider sector. Actuaries have the skills to enable them to calculate a company’s worth and then pass on this information to other companies that are wishing to invest or are planning a takeover. A lot of the work involved in actuarial jobs is confidential and so trust and professionalism is vital within this profession.

Starting a Career as an Actuary

If you have the relevant qualifications and skills then finding actuarial jobs should not be too difficult. The amount of actuaries is actually small; there are only around 6,500 qualified actuaries within the Institute of Actuaries. This is a much sought after profession and there are plenty of opportunities for hard working and dedicated graduates. Graduates should consider looking for work experience within relevant companies. Talking to careers advisors and those who already have an actuarial career will be a source of invaluable information for those considering actuarial jobs.

Becoming an actuary may be the ideal career option if you love maths, business, and the financial world. Employees within this profession do seem to view it as the ultimate financial job, and there is a lot of scope for career development. The financial and intellectual rewards are high within this job sector but a lot of hard work will be needed to obtain these rewards.

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