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What is an actuary?

If you really love maths and want a rewarding career where you can really make a difference, the actuarial profession is for you!

Here we help you understand what an actuary is, what they do, where they work and why you should consider becoming an actuary.

What is an actuary?

Actuaries are problem solvers and strategic thinkers, who use their mathematical skills to help measure the probability and risk of future events. They use these skills to predict the financial impact of these events on a business and their clients.

Business and government increasingly depend on the skills of actuaries and analysts to help them model and plan for the future. As the world changes at an increasingly rapid pace, risk management expertise can help businesses navigate this evolving landscape. Discover your strengths and find out if you could become an actuary in our online personality quiz.

What is an Actuary? Watch our members explain!

What does an actuary do?

Actuaries possess a unique mix of mathematical, analytical, communication and management skills. They apply their abilities to create social impact, inform high-level strategic decisions and have a significant impact on legislation, businesses and peoples' lives.  

Actuaries are creative, curious and adaptable and it’s this learning mindset that helps them succeed in the digital age. Actuaries’ unique combination of technical skills and professional acumen ensure they will continue to make a difference, guarding against the impacts of future uncertainty.

Find out more about where the actuarial profession can take you in our blog What actuaries actually do.

John Townhill, Actuarial Consultant at Barnett Waddingham, discusses some misinterpretations of becoming an actuary.

 

I enjoy my job, in fact, I love my job! I first heard about the actuarial profession from my A level Mathematics teacher. He described it as “… the perfect career for maths lovers!

Prudence Maseko

 

Where do actuaries work? 

Although actuaries are often associated with traditional fields such as life, pensions and insurance, there are an increasing number of actuaries moving into a hold range of new areas. Health, banking and finance, technology and climate change are just some of the areas where you can now find actuaries. 

The rise of artificial intelligence and data science are challenging actuaries to think differently and are creating new opportunities that previously never existed. Whether you work in in-house within an organisation or in a consultancy firm supporting different clients, you will enjoy a financially rewarding career where can grow, develop and be challenged.

Take a look at our Employer Directory to discover more about where actuaries work.

Chloe Hung, Amazon best-selling author, talks about some of the traditional and new industries you could work in as an actuary.

What does the future hold for actuaries?

Why should you become an actuary?

Being an actuary means having the opportunity to apply highly valued mathematical skills and expertise in a diverse, exciting and challenging career that really makes a difference. Your hard work is rewarded with a highly competitive salary and a good work/life balance in comparison to similarly paid professions in the financial services, such as investment banking.

Find out how the actuarial profession compares to other career paths

As a member of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) you will be part of a globally recognised profession. Our qualifications are internationally-recognised and will enable you to work in many countries around the world. The IFoA also has Mutual Recognition Agreements with overseas actuarial professional bodies, so once you  have qualified, it is often easy to transfer to another professional body. 

Find out how you can become an actuary.

Get the latest news

Stay up-to-date with the latest news, activities and events to support you in your first steps in your actuarial career

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Events calendar

  • Spaces available

    The General Insurance (GI) Spring Conference is a result of the General Insurance Lifelong Learning Committee (GILL) combining this year’s 'Current Issues in General Insurance' (CIGI) and 'Technical Issues in General Insurance' (TIGI) conferences into a virtual webinar series over 19 – 25 May that will be available to watch online globally.

  • CILA 2021

    Available to watch globally in May.
    19-21 May 2021
    Spaces available

    We continue to live in a world of global uncertainty. Survival depends on our ability to simultaneously navigate through the diverse root-causes, ranging from: the consequences of Climate Change; on-going financial consequences of the COVID pandemic; or self-imposed changes in regulatory requirements and accounting standards.

  • Spaces available

    This is a free webinar on the consultation on changes to the Practising Certificates (PC) Scheme.

    The proposals come from a recent review of the PC Scheme which was the first substantive look at the IFoA’s approach to the requirements and process for PCs since 2010. It responds directly to feedback received on how the current scheme works especially that received from members and PC Holders.

  • Spaces available

    Behavioural Science Webinar SeriesThe world is changing. The fourth industrial revolution, globalisation and the COVID-19 pandemic are up-ending traditional social and business norms around the world; changes that were once predictable and steady are now faster and more profound.

  • Spaces available

    Risk Management Webinar PrgrammeTools like python/R are being heavily used to provide end-to-end analytical solutions for risk management. They help to set up a framework/platform to collect risk data and work out stochastic analytics to provide insights into the risks faced by a firm, be it in any sector.

  • Spaces available

    The webinar will look at several aspects of intergenerational fairness and our panel of experts will challenge you, society, taxpayers and generations X, Y and Z on key aspects of DB v DC pensions, public v private sector pensions, state benefits and key aspects of sustainability.

  • Pensions Conference 2021

    Online webinar series
    16-22 June 2021
    Spaces available

    Welcome to the programme for our 2nd Virtual Pensions Conference. This year's conference features 11 webinars offering members and non-members the opportunity to get up to date content from leading experts in the pension industry. There will also be opportunity to ask questions and contribute to the discussion.

  • Spaces available

    Mathematical Futures: The Actuary in a World Transformed – Sir Adrian Smith will outline how advances in data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the world of big data will transform the nature of many industries, including financial services. The broader environment within which mathematics is applied will change rapidly, often led by innovative yet disruptive forces outside. These changes will undoubtedly have an impact on the work of actuaries - and the profession will need to adapt quickly to thrive.

     

  • Spaces available

    Given our commitment to the safety of our members and employees, and as the easing of restrictions in respect of COVID-19 cannot be guaranteed at this point in time, we have decided to hold our AGM virtually again this year.

    The Business of the AGM

  • Spaces available

    Join newly inaugurated IFoA President Dr. Louise Pryor as she explores what we need to do to keep abreast of the changing world – and how we can seize the resulting opportunities – in her Presidential Address, ‘A Learning Society’

  • Spaces available

    This is a free webinar on the consultation on changes to the Practising Certificates (PC) Scheme.

    The proposals come from a recent review of the PC Scheme which was the first substantive look at the IFoA’s approach to the requirements and process for PCs since 2010. It responds directly to feedback received on how the current scheme works especially that received from members and PC Holders.

  • Spaces available

    The paper “Asset liability modelling in the quantum era” shall be presented by its authors, Tim Berry and James Sharpe, and chaired by Andrew Smith, Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at University College Dublin.

  • Spaces available

    Risk Management Webinar ProgrammeInternal audit is often the Cinderella of the audit world. It’s a regulatory requirement for insurance companies to have an internal audit function, so why not make it as useful as possible?  This session will look at how to link an internal audit plan to the risk register, and how that helps audit committees and boards to spot problems and fix them.