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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

  • Sub-Saharan Africa Town Hall

    26 February 2021

    Spaces available

    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual SSA Town Hall 2021, hosted by John Taylor with IFoA Council Members Mukami Njeru, Prosper Matiashe and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann.

  • MENAP Town Hall

    2 March 2021

    Spaces available

    IFoA Immediate Past President John Taylor would like to invite you to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) virtual Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP) Town Hall 2021, hosted by John Taylor and IFoA Chief Executive, Stephen Mann. 

  • Spaces available

    COVID-19 has seen a marked increase in mental health issues. We all have mental health and poor mental health has serious consequences for individuals and our workplaces, with it costing UK businesses £33-42 billion annually.

  • The price is righter

    16 March 2021

    Spaces available

    This webinar provides an overview of the state of the UK protection market, and how different insurers are using different levels of sophistication to price (such as using customer demand models). It considers how insurers have implemented these sophisticated pricing techniques, and the practical challenges they have faced.

  • Spaces available

    This discussion will revolve around the latest industry developments including and introduction to Part VII transfers and Schemes of Arrangement (process, parties involved and recent events), insights and lessons from recent with-profits transactions and restructurings (including Equitable Life and Pru-Rothesay), how firms can apply these learnings to future arrangements, and the outlook for future with-profits transactions and restructurings (including the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit)


  • Spaces available

    What is stewardship and how has the landscape changed under the 2020 UK Stewardship Code?

    • How does effective stewardship create long term value for beneficiaries?
    • What roles do asset owners and asset managers play in active stewardship?
    • A practical approach to stewardship reporting
  • Spaces available

    Income drawdown products offer an investment strategy to generate an income in retirement.  However, for those needing to decumulate their capital to provide a sufficient income in retirement, sequencing risk is high.  This is the risk that poor returns are experienced when capital is highest (in the first part of the decumulation phase) and good returns when capital is lowest (in the last part).   It is very difficult to recover from this risk, if it is realised.  This means that income drawdown products are not very resilient for those needing to decumulate their capital.