Jobs may be advertised as Actuary, Insurance Actuary, Senior
Actuary/Consultant, Actuarial Function Holder/ Practice Director, Chief
Accountancy and finance Insurance
Bank and building societies Investment management and pensions
Actuaries make long-term decisions and forecasts that Conducting calculations and interpreting other
affect people in all aspects of everyday life. Working in people’s calculations
diverse sectors such as pensions, insurance, Developing a risk architecture for your
healthcare, banking and investment, actuaries provide organisation, defining roles, responsibilities and
organisations with specialist advice on how best to reporting guidelines
manage their assets, liabilities and risks. Identifying and assessing specific financial risks
against set parameters within the organisation’s
Using financial and statistical skills, you will analyse business strategy
past events, assess current risks and use all sorts of Establishing the future financial requirements
data to try to accurately anticipate the financial costs. If your organisation will need to ensure its capital
you enjoy building mathematical and statistical models adequacy by modelling risks against possible
to predict different situations or events, this would be all future events
in a day’s work. For instance, actuaries in insurance try Designing and implementing test plans to
to ensure their models factor in the potential costs of assess an organisation’s financial robustness
future claims, making sure the company has enough in and resilience to unknown future events
reserve to cover claims paid out. In pensions and Drawing conclusions from data gathered and
investments you might examine social factors, such as from financial models
forecasted changes in life expectancy, and compare Preparing presentations on the approach, key
these figures against fund values. It’s a career choice outputs and conclusions
that requires plenty of analytical skills and an aptitude
Advising business teams on areas like product
for problem solving.
pricing and development or advising potential
buyers/sellers on pension scheme implications
Escalating actions that address identified
financial weaknesses to relevant senior
Excellent mathematical and statistical ability
Strong, clear communication skills, both verbally and in writing
Confident preparing and explaining numbers
Analytical and research skills
Creativity in problem solving
Excellent people, interpersonal and listening skills
Strong teamwork and customer service ethic
Confidence in delivering high-level presentations
Accountable for and confident in making decisions
High-level understanding of the business and the financial services sector.
An employer will not always require the candidate has this knowledge when entering the profession, although they
will expect that it will be acquired it through training and qualifications.
An understanding of the different financial products and services and historic and residual risks that are
applicable to your organisation
The impact that market conditions and different risks would have on business capital, such as operating ratios
and capital reserves
Different mathematical and statistical techniques used to gather, analyse and summarise data
Professional and regulatory obligations of an actuary..
Opportunities are available predominantly to graduates and people who are changing careers or are looking to re-
enter the labour market after a career break. The main route into actuarial work is via a graduate training
programme offered by major employers. There are also many actuarial Bachelor and Masters degree courses.
Some people may switch and progress into actuarial work from risk management roles.
Most employers will seek candidates that have obtained degrees in subjects like mathematics, statistics or actuarial
science and risk management. Other useful degree subjects include economics, physics, finance, statistics,
chemistry, engineering and accounting. Some have a postgraduate qualification in a numeracy subject.
However, the minimum entrance requirements for admission as a student of the Actuarial Profession are lower.
Student actuaries need an A-Level or equivalent (such as the Business, Administration and Finance (BAF)
Diploma) or Scottish Higher in maths and a good degree (2.1 or above). See their website, listed below, for details.
In order to become a qualified actuary, new entrants will be expected to study part-time and pass examinations and
must comply with professional requirements in the Bye laws of the:
England and Northern Ireland Wales Scotland
Institute of Actuaries Institute of Actuaries Faculty of Actuaries
Training usually takes three to six years and many employers give time off to study. People with a relevant degree
(for example, actuarial science) or postgraduate qualification may be exempt from some of the professional exams.
Exams include areas such as statistical modelling, economics and financial and actuarial mathematics. They can
be tailored to the area of finance you are working in, with specialisations in life and healthcare insurance, pensions,
general insurance, finance and investment or risk management. Study is mainly by distance learning and tutorials,
or by attending university courses.
Students will be required to maintain a log of work undertaken and courses attended and other learning activities
as part of the development of their work-based skills. This includes technical actuarial skills as well as more general
business and management skills. Qualified actuaries are obliged to maintain their technical competence by
undertaking Continuing Professional Development.
Level of role Description Salary bands
Will be learning on the job and £25,000 - £45,000 pa
Trainee Actuary participating in specific tasks
within larger actuarial projects
whilst studying for professional
Newly-qualified Actuary Experienced and newly qualified, £43,000 - £60,000 pa
will manage small projects or
important sections of a large
Manager/ Director/ Actuarial Duties will involve managing £70,000 plus pa. Average
Partner complete and significant actuarial salaries for Practise Head is
projects, with Director or Partner £108,861, and £184,034 for a
having responsibility for actuarial Senior Partner.
This is a small profession, but the number of actuaries in Northern Ireland has been growing in recent years. In
2009, with funding from Northern Ireland’s Business Development Agency (InvestNI), Mercer announced the
creation of around 50 actuarial back office roles. Investment of this nature is likely to attract further companies to
Belfast, enhancing actuarial skills and creating further long-term employment opportunities.
To support this, Queen’s University of Belfast runs a BSc in Actuarial Science and Risk Management, addressing
the regional shortage of graduates with financial and actuarial qualifications. The Institute of Actuaries has granted
this degree exemption from eight Core Technical subjects of the professional examinations - the most exemptions
available in any UK based undergraduate degree. Dependent on the grades obtained in each CT subject, this can
significantly shorten the time it takes to qualify once in employment.
As a four-year degree, graduates spend their third year on placement in an actuarial environment. The university
has strong links with actuarial consultancies and insurance firms, sourcing a majority of their student placements in
Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow or London. However, the inward investment by financial employers and
consultancies, means there’s likely to be a rise in the number of localised placements, internships and graduate
opportunities in the future.
Currently, the main actuarial employers within Northern Ireland include Mercer, Spence & Partners, Kerr
Henderson (all based in Belfast), as well as Little & Company in Portadown and First Derivatives Ltd in Newry.
Details about these actuarial employers and training/work experience opportunities appear on The Actuarial
Profession website. You can download the directory from their website or visit the actuaries pages of the Inside
Careers website. The directory, updated annually, also highlights annual intakes and the employers that offer
training positions for A level (or equivalent) students. Jobs are also advertised in the online and printed journal The
Actuary and www.nijobs.com.
Association of Consulting Actuaries – www.aca.org.uk
Career Choice City & Finance – www.insidecareers.co.uk
Careers Northern Ireland – www.careersserviceni.com
Careers Scotland – www.careers-scotland.org.uk
Careers Wales – www.careerswales.com
Chartered Accountants Ireland – www.charteredaccountants.ie
Chartered Insurance Institute – www.cii.co.uk and www.discoverrisk.co.uk
Connexions Direct – www.connexions-direct.com
Inside Careers Actuaries – www.insidecareers.co.uk/act
Institute of Accounting Technicians in Ireland – www.accountingtechniciansireland.ie
Institute of Bankers in Ireland – www.instbank.ie
TARGETjobs – www.targetjobs.co.uk/finance
The Actuarial Profession (The Faculty and Institute of Actuaries) – www.actuaries.org.uk
The Actuary – www.the-actuary.org.uk