How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More
Actuaries analyze statistical data, such as mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates and construct probability tables to forecast risk and liability for payment of future benefits. May ascertain insurance rates required and cash reserves necessary to ensure payment of future benefits.
Table of contents
|Degree field||Actuarial Science|
|License or certification||Actuaries need to pass several exams and earn multiple certifications to work as Actuaries and advance their careers.|
|Duration to become one||4 to 5 years|
|Difficulty to become one||Hard|
Aspiring Actuaries typically need a Bachelor’s degree to enter this field.
Actuarial Science provides specific training for this job, but Actuaries also frequently major in Statistics, Economics, Finance, and Business.
Actuaries need to pass several exams and earn multiple certifications to work as Actuaries and advance their careers.
Step 1: Develop Your Math Skills In High School
Actuaries require strong Math skills. Aspiring Actuaries should try to take the highest level of Math available at their schools.
For example, many states require students to complete two years of Math, which often includes Geometry and Algebra 1. Taking Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus in high school may make your college education a little easier by teaching you the necessary Math techniques.
Along with taking Math classes, you may explore the Actuary career by enrolling in an Actuarial summer program or attending career fairs for Actuaries.
As Actuaries also rely on computer software to perform their job duties, you may want to consider taking Computer Science courses in high school. Taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes is also recommended, as AP classes can help your college admission applications stand out.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree In an Analytical Field
Most employers require Actuaries to have a Bachelor’s degree. While there is not a specific field of study needed for this job, Actuaries typically major in an analytical field. Common choices include Mathematics, Economics, Statistics, Finance, and Business.
Another common major is Actuarial Science, which is a field of study designed for aspiring Actuaries. Students complete courses in Mathematics, Statistics, Probability Theory, Computer Science, and other relevant topics.
Step 3: Pass Your Initial Exams For Becoming an Actuary
Becoming an Actuary requires professional certification through the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA), depending on the type of work that you perform. Passing the initial exams is the first step in becoming certified.
The CAS certifies Actuaries that work in the property and casualty field. The preliminary exams from the CAS include Exam 1 – Probability, Exam 2 – Financial Mathematics, and Exam 3F – Financial Economics. However, those that complete the initial SOA exams may receive an exemption from the CAS.
The SOA certifies Actuaries that work in the insurance, investment, or finance fields. The initial exams from the SOA include Exam P (Probability) and Exam FM (Financial Mathematics).
Passing these exams is often a requirement for seeking internships and entry-level work as an Actuary. Most students spend three to six months preparing for a single exam, with a pass rate of less than 50%.
Step 4: Look For an Actuarial Internship Program
Most Actuaries accept internships before looking for full-time employment. Internships are often available to undergraduates. However, you also typically need to pass at least one of the initial exams before accepting an internship.
Internships are available through a wide range of companies that employ actuaries. Common employers include insurance agencies, consulting services, investment brokerages, and government agencies.
Step 5: Obtain an Entry-Level Actuary Position
The requirements vary depending on the employer, but you typically need to pass your initial exams before looking for entry-level positions. You may find job postings for Entry Level Actuarial Analyst or Actuarial Analyst I.
Step 6: Become an Associate Actuary
Becoming an Associate of the CAS or SOA is not a requirement for all Actuary positions. However, you are likely to need one of these credentials to seek advanced positions.
The CAS and the SOA offer two levels of certification, starting with an associateship. If you work in the life/health insurance industry, you will need to obtain the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) credential. If you work in the property and casualty insurance field, you need to obtain the Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society (ACAS) credential.
To apply for the ASA credential, you first need to pass a series of exams. At this point, you should have already passed Exam P and Exam FM. However, there are five more exams on investment markets, financial markets, actuarial mathematics, and related topics.
The ACAS credential requires the completion of Exams 1, 2, 3F, MAS-I, MAS-II, 5, and 6. You also need to complete two online courses and meet the educational requirements, which includes a Bachelor’s degree.
Step 7: Earn an Actuarial Fellowship
Obtaining a fellowship requires several more years of experience and the passing of additional exams after obtaining an associateship.
To become a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA), you need to choose a career track and pass the required exams. You also need to complete several online courses, a proctored project assessment, and validation of specific educational experiences outside of the SOA education system.
Becoming a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS) also involves several additional exams and online courses. If you meet the requirements for the FSA or FCAS credential, you can submit your application and wait for approval. After receiving approval, you can add “FCAS” or “FSA” to your professional name.
Step 8: Continue Your Education
Continuing your education is not a requirement to maintain your credentials. However, keeping up with the latest developments in the insurance and brokerage industries can help advance your career. The CAS and the SOA offer a variety of online courses and seminars to keep Actuaries up to date.
Seeking advanced positions typically requires a combination of work experience and professional credentials. Many employers only hire Actuaries with the FSA or FCAS credential for managerial positions. In competitive regions, you may also need a graduate degree.
There are not many Master’s programs for Actuarial Science. However, some Actuaries choose to continue their education by earning a Master’s degree in Financial Mathematics or Applied Mathematics. These programs typically require two years of study.
What degree do most Actuaries have
We did a survey to ask other Actuaries what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.
How long does it take
The typical timeframe for becoming an Actuary is about four to five years. You first need to earn a Bachelor’s degree, which often takes four years. While you may start looking for entry-level work after graduating, most Actuaries accept internships and study for their professional exams, which may involve a year of studying.