So how can I become an Actuary?

Becoming an Actuarial Student

The Society of Actuaries in Ireland is not an examining body.  The majority of actuaries in Ireland qualify through the professional exams and other requirements of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the United Kingdom.  Therefore, the first step to becoming an actuary is to become a Student of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. 

For applicants who have completed their education to date in Ireland, the minimum entry requirements to become a Student of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries are:

  • Grade A1 or A2 in Honours Mathematics at the Leaving Certificate and a pass in at least four other subjects including English.

    OR

  • Other qualifications which the Council of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries consider to be equivalent to the above

    OR

  • A degree awarded by a university in the Republic of Ireland, provided that the applicant has:
    • Studied mathematical sciences as a major subject as part of an honours degree course and gained at least third class honours in that degree, or
    • Obtained a first or second class honours degree in any subject, together with at least a Grade C at Leaving Certificate Honours Level in any mathematical subject or such other standard in mathematics as the Council of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries consider to be equivalent;

These are minimum requirements.  In practice, the professional exams are challenging and those who successfully complete them have a very good Leaving Certificate (near maximum points) and/or a strong degree in actuarial science or a mathematics-related subject. 

When you become a Student of the UK-based Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, you may also become a Student of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.  The Society liaises closely with the Institute and Faculty on behalf of the Society’s Students, to ensure that their needs in relation to education are addressed.  The Society organises training for Students from time to time, including professionalism training (which forms part of your qualification).  The Society also has a Students’ Society which organises social events and networking opportunities.

 

Becoming an Actuary

To become a fully qualified actuary:

  • You must complete a series of exams.  These include:
    • "Core Technical” (CT) subjects, covering fundamental actuarial techniques in mathematics, statistics and finance;
    • “Core Applications” (CA) subjects, covering actuarial risk management, financial modelling and communication skills; 
    • “Specialist Technical” (ST) subjects, bringing technical skills and knowledge to a more advanced level;
    • A “Specialist Applications” (SA) subject, through which you will improve your ability to apply both technical skills and professional actuarial judgement in real world situations.

    The exams are held twice a year – once in the spring and again in the autumn.  You may take the subjects in whatever order you choose.  Typically, it takes about 3 to 6 years to complete the exams, depending on the extent to which you can claim exemptions on the basis of relevant third-level qualifications.

  • You must complete at least three years’ experience of actuarial work, supervised by the holder of a recognised actuarial qualification. 

    Typically a student works as an actuarial trainee in an insurance company, a pensions consultancy or another actuarial environment and studies for the exams in his or her spare time.  Employers generally provide support for actuarial trainees in the form of paid study leave, Institute and Faculty and Society membership costs and on-the-job training and development.

  • You must develop work-based skills in the following areas:
    • Technical application of actuarial skills
    • Judgement
    • Professional and ethical
    • Communication
    • Commercial
    • Information communications technology
    • Management

    Developing work-based skills provides an opportunity to understand how practical considerations can affect theoretical models.  It also helps you to grow your personal skills and develop your professionalism.

  • You must attend a professionalism course.

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries organise professionalism courses in the United Kingdom.  The Society of Actuaries in Ireland organises courses for its members in Ireland, and these are fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty.  

 

Actuarial education in Irish universities

In the past, many students began their training as an actuary immediately on completing their Leaving Certificate.  Nowadays, however, most students complete a degree or other third level qualification as the first step – such as a degree in actuarial science, mathematics, statistics, economics or finance.  Depending on your third-level qualification (and grades achieved), you may be able to claim exemptions from some of the professional exams of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. 

In Ireland, the following universities offer actuarial courses that may lead to exemptions from the professional exams*: 

 University  Degree Faculty
University College Dublin  Actuarial and Financial Studies School of Mathematical Sciences
Dublin City University   Actuarial Mathematics School of Mathematical Sciences
University College Cork  Financial Mathematics & Actuarial Science College of Science Engineering and Food Science
National University of Ireland, Galway Financial Mathematics & Economics College of Science
Queens University Belfast Actuarial Science & Risk Management Queen's University Management School
University of Limerick Financial Mathematics Department of Mathematics and Statistics

 

Further information

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries together form the Actuarial Profession in the United Kingdom.  Full details about the professional exams and associated requirements are set out on the Actuarial Profession’s website, at http://www.actuaries.org.uk/students

*For further information about university courses, and to ensure that you have the most up to date information about possible exemptions, you should contact the relevant university or consult its website.

The work of an actuary is varied, interesting and always challenging.  If you are interested in pursuing this career, we recommend that you discuss it with an actuary, who should be able to answer any questions that you may have.  We would be happy to put you in touch with an actuary for this purpose, if you wish - just contact us at info@actuaries.ie