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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.

Download the 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. 

Download the 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

    Over recent months there has been a sharp rise in M&A activity involving British businesses, with interest from overseas, domestic buyers and Private Equity investors.  

  • Spaces available

    Frank Redington is recognised as one of the most influential actuaries of all time. In this talk, Craig will review some of Redington's most important ideas. He will identify the consistent actuarial principles that form a common thread across the contributions Redington made to a broad range of actuarial fields, and will highlight the ongoing relevance of Redington's thinking to 21st century actuarial practice.

  • Spaces available

    The IFoA Mental Health working party look back over their week of blogs and podcasts considering all aspects of the relationship between mental health and life insurance. The expert panel spans adviser, underwriter and actuarial experience and they  explore triggers for purchasing insurance relating to mental health, the various routes to insurance and how these may be more suited to different people depending on their conditions and preferences, the products and processes involved in purchasing these as well as what claims and support are available to policyholders and how to access them.

  • Spaces available

    Part of the 'Finance in the Public Interest 2022' webinar series. If it was ever okay to consider your business in isolation from its surroundings, today it most definitely is not. Thinking about business within its surrounding system is now a necessity. The question we seek to discuss is: How should we prescribe the boundaries in which we consider problems to enable us to create better products and more resilient companies and systems?

  • Spaces available

    What will happen to DC pension savers who see life annuities as poor VFM but still want an income for life?  Pooled annuity funds could offer them a decent lifetime income while reducing significantly the complex choices and risk inherent in income drawdown.  They could be the next generation of CDC pension schemes, slotting into the existing DC framework as a post-retirement option.