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 H1 or H2 in Higher Level Mathematics in the Leaving Certificate plus four further passes in any subjects.


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


  • 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, or has an actuarial science degree, 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 Higher 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 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 can 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, including professionalism training (which forms part of your qualification) as well as other informative presentations and events.  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 Principles” subjects, covering fundamental actuarial techniques in mathematics, statistics and business;
    • “Core Practices” (CP) subjects, covering actuarial risk management, financial modelling and communication skills; 
    • “Specialist Principles” (SP) subjects, bringing technical skills and knowledge to a more advanced level;
    • A “Specialist Advanced” (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. It is worth considering the Institute’s recommendations on the order in which to take the subjects as some subjects build upon others and there are therefore some logical routes through the subjects.  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. It is requirement to complete Personal and Professional Development (PPD) which is designed to make the work-related element an integral part of the ongoing learning experience.

Typically, a student works as an actuarial trainee in an insurance company, a 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.

  • In order to complete Personal and Professional Development it is required to meet specific competencies under the following key objectives:
    • Effective communications
    • Problem solving and decision making
    • Professionalism


Completing Personal and Professional Development 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 organise courses for its members in Ireland, and these are fully accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.  

Actuarial education in Irish universities

In the past, many students began their training as an actuary immediately on completing their Leaving Certificate.  Nowadays, 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 undergraduate actuarial/financial mathematics courses that may lead to exemptions from the professional exams*: 

University Degree Faculty
University College Dublin  Actuarial and Financial Studies College of Science, School of Mathematics and Statistics
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

Both University College Dublin and University College Cork also offer graduate taught Masters programmes in Actuarial Science.

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

*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

Additional helpful information is also available in our Brochures page.

Brochure Content Overview  
Becoming an Actuary This booklet provides a guide to a career as an actuary.  It is suitable for school leavers, parents, teachers, university students, career guidance counsellors and other members of the public who are interested in the role of actuaries in Ireland. Becoming An Actuary


Guide for Student Actuaries in Ireland This guide provides information to familiarise you with the Society of Actuaries in Ireland, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA), which is the examining body, and to provide practical advice in terms of the actuarial exams.  00S-2-Student Actuaries (Sep 2019)


The Actuarial Profession in Ireland This factsheet provides a general overview of the actuarial profession in Ireland. Factsheet - Actuarial Profession Image