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Actuary

Actuary

An Actuary is someone that analyses data and works with statistics, using mathematical skill to assess or predict the probability of an event happening and its financial consequences. The decisions of actuaries can affect thousands of people so it is a well-paid job, with a lot of responsibility. Wherever there is risk, there are opportunities for actuaries.

What the job involves

  • Actuaries are responsible for managing risk; using analysis based on mathematics, they help organisations to plan and prepare by predicting the effects of risk and change
  • In insurance-related areas, actuaries work to assess what levels or rates of insurance companies should set for individuals and businesses, based on the scale of risk involved
  • Legislative and advisory work, such as reporting detailed financial forecasts to senior management, making sure the organisation stays within legislation rules and managing other staff.

How your career can develop

A qualification as an actuary can take 3 to 6 years. Continuing professional development (known as CDP) is actively encouraged after qualification, to make sure the person stays up to date with the latest trends or developments in the area. This type of further training, along with experience, will lead to gradual progression to senior actuary.

Why it matters

Actuaries are frequently involved in advisory roles for political parties, lobbying groups and trade unions. Their advice is key to shaping decisions that impact on the country and the economy. For example, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the General Insurance Committee of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland presented to the Cost of Motor Insurance Oireachtas Committee.

Skills

  • Excellent numerical and mathematical capabilities
  • Very good IT and analytical abilities
  • Critical thinking/problem-solving ability – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to conduct self-assessment
  • A deep understanding of economics and of the legislation relating to financial services
  • Meticulous attention to detail and thorough in completing work tasks

Typical employers

The majority of actuaries in Ireland work in the insurance and pensions industries. Actuaries also work in healthcare, banking and investments. In addition, a growing number are expanding into other industries such as data analytics, aviation finance and sports betting, where an actuary’s analytical and risk management expertise adds considerable value.

Typical Salary

  • Graduate/starting salary €40,000
  • Trainee salary €64,000
  • Senior/potential earnings €250,000

Typical qualifications

Qualifying as an actuary is academically very demanding with a wide range of certifications and courses necessary. Many employers pay for these courses while an actuary is training. Numerate degrees are what employers are looking for, so those with degrees in mathematics, statistics, actuarial science, economics, business degrees, engineering and physics are on the right track.
Further information is available from the Society of Actuaries in Ireland Society of Actuaries in Ireland.

Finance degree programmes

See the bottom of this article for a links to a list of actuarial finance degree programmes. Some of these programmes enable graduates to receive significant exemptions from professional actuarial examinations. Likewise, taught postgraduate courses in actuarial science/application are available that may lead to exemptions from the professional exams.

Specific entry requirements

Most actuaries start their training after they graduate by joining an actuarial firm as a trainees and joining the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) as a student member. The Society of Actuaries in Ireland is not an examining body, however, it accredits the IFoA professional exams. The Society also organises information sessions for interested students, typically held in the spring.

Training

To qualify as a Fellow, you will be required to complete, or have been granted exemption(s) from, the following examinations:

  • Core Principles
  • Core Practices
  • Specialist Principles
  • Specialist Advanced

You must also complete a minimum of 3 years’ work-based skills / Personal Professional Development and fulfil the Professionalism Requirements.

To qualify as an Associate, you will be required to complete, or have been granted exemption(s) from, the following examinations:

  • Core Principles
  • Core Practices

You must also complete a minimum of 1 years’ work-based skills / Personal Professional Development and fulfil the Professionalism Requirements.

The Actuarial Career Path