In Summary - Actuary
Actuarys typically work in the following Career Sectors:
The Work - Actuary
Far from being a narrow specialisation, an actuarial qualification opens up a wide range of employment possibilities from academic research to the whole spectrum of commerce.
The principal areas of employment that are specific to Actuaries are briefly outlined below.
Life insurance has been a traditional area for actuaries over the last couple of centuries. Actuaries have a statutory duty in reporting on the financial health of the company. They are also concerned with product development, underwriting, and the formulation of investment policy, fund management, and general managerial matters. Over the last few decades, actuaries are increasingly found in general insurance companies where their statistical model building skills and general business acumen are used to set premium levels, establish reserves, and report on the overall financial position of the company.
Companies employ firms of consulting Actuaries to advise on pensions and employee benefit matters and, at times, consulting actuaries also provide advice to insurance and investment companies. A sizable minority of actuaries are involved in capitalising damages for court awards. The nature of the work of consulting actuaries tends to be varied but, at its core, involves producing financial forecasts and models to judge the consequences of various courses of action. Mortality (death rate) or morbidity (sickness rate) statistics, for example, are often used as background information in the calculations.
Actuaries also decide how to invest a company's or pension scheme's assets and advise on the funding and overall management of pension schemes. A small minority of actuaries are fund managers, making the daily stock selection decisions of very large funds. Finally, an even smaller number are lecturers and researchers in universities in Finance, Statistical or Mathematical Science departments.
The Actuarial profession is small and closely knit, with regular seminars by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland to ensure continuous professional development throughout a member's career.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Ascertain premium rates required and cash reserves and liabilities necessary to ensure payment of future benefits.
- Determine or help determine company policy, and explain complex technical matters to company executives, government officials, shareholders, policyholders, or the public.
- Design, review and help administer insurance, annuity and pension plans, determining financial soundness and calculating premiums.
- Analyze statistical information to estimate mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates.
- Provide advice to clients on a contract basis, working as a consultant.
- Collaborate with programmers, underwriters, accounts, claims experts, and senior management to help companies develop plans for new lines of business or improving existing business.
- Provide expertise to help financial institutions manage risks and maximize returns associated with investment products or credit offerings.
- Construct probability tables for events such as fires, natural disasters, and unemployment, based on analysis of statistical data and other pertinent information.
- Determine equitable basis for distributing surplus earnings under participating insurance and annuity contracts in mutual companies.
- Testify before public agencies on proposed legislation affecting businesses.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Interests - Actuary
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
To become an actuary you must be interested in the practical analysis of business problems and have the ability to solve complex financial problems involving large sums of money. You must have a flair for mathematics and be able to pay close attention to detail. You also need to be able to express ideas and facts clearly. Therefore a methodical approach, numeric competence and sound judgement are essential skills in order to become an actuary.
Entry Requirements - Actuary
Students typically begin their training as an actuary on completion of their Leaving Certificate. A degree or other third level qualification is the first step i.e. actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, economics or finance.
Depending on your third-level qualification and the grades achieved, it is possible to claim exemptions from some of the professional exams of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
The following actuarial courses may lead to exemptions from the professional exams*:
- UCD Actuarial and Financial Studies DN230
- DCU Actuarial Mathematics DC126
- UCC Financial Mathematics & Actuarial Science CK407
- NUIG Financial Mathematics & Economics GY309
- University of Limerick Financial Mathematics LM058
Queens University Belfast also offer a degree programme in Actuarial Science & Risk Management
Actuaries in Ireland qualify through the professional exams and other requirements of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the United Kingdom.
The first step to becoming an actuary is to become a Student of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries UK.
For applicants who have completed their education to date in Ireland, the minimum entry requirements to become a Student of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries are:
- Grade H1 or H2 in Honours Mathematics at the Leaving Certificate and
- a pass in at least four other subjects including English.
Other qualifications which the Council of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries consider to be equivalent to the above
A degree awarded by a university in the Republic of Ireland, provided that the applicant has:
- Studied mathematical sciences as a major subject as part of an honours degree course
- gained at least third class honours in that degree,
A first or second class honours degree in any subject, together with at least a Grade C at Leaving Certificate Honours Level in any mathematical subject or such other standard in mathematics as the Council of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries consider to be equivalent.
Note: These are minimum requirements. In practice, the professional exams are challenging and those who successfully complete them have a very good Leaving Certificate (near maximum points) and/or a strong degree in actuarial science or a mathematics-related subject.
When you become a Student of the UK-based Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, you may also become a Student of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland. The Society liaises closely with the Institute and Faculty on behalf of the Society’s Students.
To become a fully qualified actuary you must complete a series of exams. [See the Society of Actuaries in Ireland for details]
Typically, it takes 3 to 6 years to complete the exams, depending on the extent to which you can claim exemptions on the basis of relevant third-level qualifications. You must also complete at least three years’ experience of actuarial work, supervised by the holder of a recognised actuarial qualification.
Students typically work as an actuarial trainee in an insurance company, a pensions consultancy or another actuarial environment and studies for the exams in their spare time.
Employers generally provide support for actuarial trainees in the form of paid study leave, Institute and Faculty and Society membership costs and on-the-job training and development.
Last Updated: November, 2017
Pay & Salary - Actuary
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 35k - k
Trainee Actuary (Graduate): 35 - 45
Part-Qualified: 32 - 75
Qualified: 55 - 140
Newly Qualified: 60 - 100
Chief Actuary 110 - 320
The Insurance Institute of Ireland / Brightwater, and Sigmar / CPL / Hudson / Abrivia
Last Updated: May, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Actuary
There is a strong indication that demand exists for this occupation across several sectors (both public and private), although the number employed is too small to allow reliable analysis. As such, any shortages are likely to be small in number.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Actuary
Society of Actuaries in Ireland
Insurance Institute of Ireland