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Route to becoming an actuary

If you’re passionate about maths and have the determination to succeed you’ve already taken the first steps towards becoming an actuary.

We will guide you through every step of your journey, from picking the right subjects at school, right up to starting your IFoA exams. 

If you are a teacher, careers adviser or parent we have a number of specialist resources available to help you support students interested in becoming an actuary.

Where do I begin?

There's more than one way to become an actuary and you can choose the route that best suits your situation now and your long term ambitions. Most people start with a maths-based degree at 2:1 or above and begin taking actuarial exams once they have secured a graduate role.

Others choose an actuarial apprenticeship and get started that way. 

If you don’t have a background in maths but are interested in an actuarial career, we recommend you take one of our non-member exams to gain an understanding of the level of maths required to become an actuary.


Routes to becoming an actuary diagram

Choosing the right school subjects

As a minimum, we recommend that you start with an A Level or equivalent in Maths. This is not only helps you build the groundwork for future exams, it is often a requirement for many employers. Beyond maths, it’s important to look at subjects you are most likely to enjoy and be successful at. This could be supporting subjects such as economics or physics, but don’t underestimate the value of other subjects such as languages – these can help demonstrate your communication skills! Find out more about the different subjects you can choose in our blog 'what subjects you should study in school'.

What university course should I pick?

With so many university courses to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Firstly, we recommend a course that is maths-based. You can chose from a number of maths-based subjects such as economics, physics, pure maths or statistics. We recommend choosing a course that includes a significant amount of maths modules.

Find out more about the different maths-based degrees you could choose in 'what degrees can help'.

If you would like to study a course that is specific to the actuarial profession, there are a number of actuarial science degrees that are accredited by the IFoA, which will help you prepare for a career as an actuary. We accredit university courses around the globe which can provide you with exemptions to some of our exams. This means you’ll have less exams to complete after you graduate, giving you a head start with your exams.

Visit our university exemption page to find out more about our accredited degree programmes.

Whatever programme you pick, most employers will look for a 2:1 as a minimum so make sure that you study something that you will enjoy and excel at.

What type of person is suited to the actuarial profession? Watch our video to find out.

Actuarial Apprenticeships

There are a number of actuarial apprenticeships available for those who don’t wish to go to university after leaving school. Our Level 4 actuarial technician apprenticeship will start you on your journey to becoming a fully qualified Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA ). Once you complete your apprenticeship you may complete the CAA exams and qualify as a Certified Actuarial Analyst, or you may wish to consider applying for a Level 7 apprenticeship to begin your path to qualifying as an Actuary. 

More information about apprenticeships is available on our actuarial apprenticeships page.

To find out more about the CAA qualification visit the CAA Global website.

Finding a graduate or trainee role

Whether you choose to go to university or complete an apprenticeship, you will need to secure your first actuarial role. This role will help you to put the skills you gain thorough our exams into practice and will provide you with the necessary work experience you need to qualify as an Associate or Fellow of the IFoA. Many employers will provide you with study support and fund your exams. The entry requirements for trainees will vary depending on the employer and the specific role. 

Find out how you can improve your chances of securing a trainee role in 'how to secure an actuarial internship'.

Dr Mark Farrell FIA, sets out five key skills graduates need to meet the rapid changes in the actuarial profession.

To find out more about the types of roles available for trainees download our Employer Directory. If you are an overseas students, we have tailored resources available to guide you as you take your first steps towards a career in actuarial science.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news about trainee and graduate roles and employer events. 

Watch our members discuss how to become an actuary

Starting your exams

Although our exams may seem complex, there is plenty of support and guidance available to you. Depending on the modules you study, the grades you achieve and whether your degree programme is IFoA accredited, you can apply for exemptions from IFoA exams. This will help reduce the number of exams you will need to take to become an actuary. If you don’t have any exemptions, you will start with our first exam. 

Exam pathway diagram

There are 2 opportunities to sit exams each year, in April and September. To find out more about the exam dates and the deadlines for application visit Exams Dates 2021.

The exams are not as scary as you think! Watch our video for tips on managing the challenge of exams.


Becoming a student member

Before you can begin your exams and gain exemptions, you will need to become a student member of the IFoA. The only exception is if you have chosen to take one of our first exams as a non-member. As a student member, you will be able to access to a range of resources to support your studies and become part of a global network of talented individuals.

Find out how you can join the IFoA as a student member.

Find out more about the actuarial profession

Download our Careers Guide for for more information about becoming an actuary, the routes you can take and advice to help you get started.

If you would like to find out more about how you can secure work experience, placements or graduate opportunities and hear from those within the actuarial profession, download our Employer Directory.

If you’re based outside of the UK, we have tailored resources and local networks to guide you as you take your first steps towards a career in actuarial science.

Contact Details

You can contact the Careers team at:

Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, 7th Floor Holborn Gate, 326-330 High Holborn, London WC1V 7PP

We aim to respond to all enquiries within five working days.

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Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    The webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities schemes face in evaluating end game options, choosing a target state and understanding the impact this strategic decision could have on member outcomes long after the “end state” is reached. Adolfo, Kevin and Rhian bring over 60 years of experience in the industry and a variety of perspectives as scheme actuary, covenant adviser, trustee, de-risking adviser and insurer.

  • Spaces available

    Retail banking is going through a period of substantial change as it moves into the digital age. Banks have large amounts of data about their customers and about their risks. Open data application programming interface (APIs) and data science are enabling banks to use their data to offer innovative and sometimes personalised services. Data science is also adding value in risk areas such as fraud detection and cyber security. At the same time, the move to online banking is making it easier for firms including fintechs to enter banking without having to establish branch networks.

  • UK Town Hall 08:30-09:30

    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • UK Town Hall 10:00-11:00

    4 December 2020

    Spaces available

    IFoA President Tan Suee Chieh would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual UK Town Hall 2020, hosted by Tan Suee Chieh with IFoA’s Immediate Past President, John Taylor, President Elect, Louise Pryor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.  

  • Spaces available

    Cash-flow driven investing is a game-changer for DB pension funds navigating their end-game. Suitable for sponsors who want to reduce risks on their balance sheets. And for trustees, it shifts the focus to providing greater certainty of returns, managing funding level volatility and ensuring they have enough income to pay cash-flow requirements.

  • Spaces available

    Patrick Kennedy, Partner at Gateley Legal and Founding Director of Entrust (a leading professional pensions trustee company), will be delivering an update on the latest legal developments during the course of 2020. With both a pensions legal perspective and over 25 years of trustee service, Patrick will seek to highlight how the letter of the law has continued to evolve against the backdrop of a difficult and challenging year

  • Spaces available

    The talk will provide an understanding of the priorities and relationships between deficit reduction contributions, in the context of wider scheme funding, and different types of value outflow from the employer based on the working party’s recently published report. 

  • Spaces available

    Running off the £2 trillion of UK corporate sector defined benefit liabilities in an efficient and effective fashion is the biggest challenge facing the UK pensions industry. Trustees and sponsors overseeing those schemes need to be clear on their target end-state and the associated journey plan – but too few have well articulated and robust plans.

  • Spaces available

    The actuarial skill set has much to offer the banking industry. So many of the skills that actuaries acquire during their working life translate across to the world of banking and yet banking is perceived as an alien environment to many actuaries. But is it?

  • Spaces available

    Covid-19 has required an urgent and cross-practice initiative to facilitate the extensive impact this pandemic has across all industries. IFoA members have been keen to contribute in a different way, so we developed the IFoA Covid-19 Action Taskforce [ICAT] to coordinate our effort, with a more efficient governance.

    We have over 500 volunteers and countless topics which we have amalgamated into 93 workstreams.