What does an actuary do?

There are 25,215 members in the IFoA (August 2013). The breakdown of our membership is below, followed by a brief description of what you can expect to do in your role as an actuary. For further details of the practice areas click here

You can find out more information about the breakdown of our membership here.

What are the main industry sectors I could work in?

Actuaries' skills are in great demand throughout the financial sector, particularly in investment, insurance and pensions. Actuaries are also increasingly employed in risk management for large companies. However, actuarial consultancies are probably the biggest employers of actuaries in the UK. There are many areas where actuaries work, including;

  • Consultancies - offering advice on issues such as acquisitions, mergers and financing capital projects, and also on occupational pension schemes 
  • Investment - involved in research and on the pricing and management of investments, particularly in mitigating the risk of investments
  • Insurance - providing a service to companies which need a huge range of numerical information investigated, analysed and explained; for example to create and price polices, or to ensure they have the money to cover claims
  • Pensions - designing and advising on company pension schemes, especially placing a value on accumulated pension commitments.

What kind of projects do actuaries work on?

Every area of business is subject to risks so an actuarial career offers many options. A typical business problem might involve analysing future financial events, especially when elements are uncertain. But it could also involve understanding something like the weather: assessing when and where devastating storms may hit and their associated costs, for investments or insurance.

Due to an actuary's skill the opportunities open to them are endless, they can even be employed in the marketing and development of financial products.

What skills do I need?

Understanding how businesses operate is vital, but what really sets actuaries apart is their natural mathematical, economic and statistical awareness, and their ability to apply this to real business issues. The ability to communicate these difficult topics to non-specialists is also very important. 

Find out more about the skills that you need at each stage of qualification.

Can I work in other areas?

The skills that you will gain as an actuary will be invaluable to you in your future career, whether that is as an actuary or other. Many actuaries change practice area and career paths. They move into teaching, alternative risk roles, consultants, business operations managers, career advisers – the list is endless.

Can I work abroad?

Yes - With the skills you will gain with the UK Profession, they can take you anywhere in the world. With mutual recognition agreements with some of the other actuarial professional bodies, once you have qualified it may be easy to transfer to another professional body if your work takes you that way.