Are you interested in money and investing it? Do you enjoy maths, and find statistics fascinating? If so, working as an actuary could be possible career option. The UK spends billions of pounds each year on financial products such as insurance, pensions and mortgages.
Actuaries are experts who design products like these to look after people's financial needs and to protect their financial interests: part of their work is to try to predict what money will do when it is invested. Actuaries sometimes give specialised evidence in court (for example in fraud cases) or work with the government to predict how much money will be needed to meet the nation's spending needs on services such as health, education and social care.
To qualify as an actuary you need a good honours degree in Actuarial Science (or a subject with a high numerical content such as Mathematics or Economics) and specialist professional qualifications from the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries. It is important to find out which courses are approved by the Faculty and Institute and give exemptions from some of the professional examinations for actuarial trainees.
Example areas of study
The following is as list of example topic areas that actuarial science degree courses could include and is intended as a guide to the subjects you may study. It is important to check the exact focus of the course with the institutions that you wish to apply to before you submit your application.
- Algebra and calculus
- Statistical theory and practice
- Financial and investment mathematics
- Computing in mathematics
- Financial economics
- Actuarial investigations
- Distribution theory
- Time series and simulation
- Life assurance practice
- Financial risk management
- Pension funds
- Database systems
- Data analysis
- Financial accounting
- Financial forecasting
- Numbers and functions
- Life insurance mathematics
- Organisational behaviour
- International monetary economics
- Survival models
- Probability and inference
- Problems of finance and investment
- Stochastic and actuarial methods in finance
- Research methods
- Statistics and statistical reporting
Some career possibilities
By choosing an actuarial science degree you are not committing yourself to becoming an actuary. Many graduates do become actuarial trainees but others go on to a variety of financial and other careers including insurance, accountancy training, finance companies, banking or research for higher degrees.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for actuarial science degrees do vary so it is important to check these requirements with the institutions that you wish to apply to. The list below is intended as a guide to the grades and qualifications that you may need.
- UCAS Tariff: 220 - 300 points including mathematics
- A-level: AB - AAA including A in mathematics
- SQA Highers: AAABB including mathematics
- SQA Advanced Highers: AB - AAA including mathematics
- Irish Leaving Certificates: AAABB including mathematics
- International Baccalaureate: 34 - 38 points including mathematics
- BTEC National Diploma: relevant subjects considered
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- Work experience or work shadowing in a financial organisation (such as a bank, and insurance company or the Stock Exchange)
- Interest and knowledge of financial issues (for example by reading The Economist and The Financial Times)
- Further information is available from The Actuarial Profession and the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA).
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