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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 recently cautioned the Irish Government of the massive cost to insurance companies if the Government implemented the Universal Health Insurance scheme. 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.

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

• Insurance companies and consultancies

• Life assurance companies

• Pension funds

• Health care providers

• Actuarial consultancies

• Investment banks

• Accountancy firms

• Management consultancies

Typical Salary

• Trainee salary €40,000

• Graduate/Starting €64,000

• Senior/Potential €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 • Society of Actuaries in Ireland (https://web.actuaries.ie)

Postgraduate study

Taught postgraduate courses in actuarial science/application are available that may lead to exemptions from the professional exams.

Specific entry requirements

You must complete a series of exams. These include:

  • ‘Core Technical’ (CT) subjects, covering fundamental actuarial techniques in mathematics, statistics and finance
  • ‘Core Applications’ (CA) subjects, covering actuarial risk management, financial modelling and communication skills
  • ‘Specialist Technical’ (ST) subjects, bringing technical skills and knowledge to a more advanced level A ‘Specialist Applications’ (SA) subject, through which you will improve your ability to apply both technical skills and professional actuarial judgement in real-world situations.

Training

You must complete at least three years’ experience of actuarial work, supervised by the holder of a recognised actuarial qualification.

Tips for applications

Secure a placement with organisations offering work experience to potential actuaries.