What will employers look for?
Most employers are looking for graduates with at least a 2:1 degree and excellent A-levels or equivalent.
• Maths A-level (or equivalent) at grade B or higher.
• A degree at 2:1 or higher, in any numerate discipline (other disciplines may be considered).
• Many employers also look for candidates who have a basic knowledge about the IFoA and the qualification route applicable to them.
• Employers will not expect students to have passed any of the IFoA exams on entry to the company. However, you can take the Certificate in Financial Mathematics (CT1) exam to gain an insight into the exams and to show an employer that you can take and pass the exams independently.
What will the IFoA look for?
The minimum requirements for admission as a student of the IFoA are:
• Maths A-level (or equivalent) at grade B
• A second A-level (or equivalent) in any subject at grade C
• English GCSE (or equivalent) at grade C
• Two other GCSEs (or equivalent) in any subject at grade C.
For holders of a second class honours degree or above in any subject, the maths A-level requirement is reduced to a grade C.
For holders of a third class honours or above in a mathematical or actuarial science degree, the maths A-level requirement is dropped.
What skills do I need?
Understanding how businesses operate, and how legislation may affect them, is vital. But what really sets actuaries apart is their natural mathematical, economic and statistical awareness, and their ability to apply this to real situations in the financial world.
Aside from the technical knowledge that actuaries need to have, they also need to show experience of good communication skills, leadership, team working, organisational skills, motivation and good problem solving skills.
Obviously you may not have experience of all of these things, but integrity, willingness to learn and enthusiasm for the work will set you apart at interview stage and will help get you the placement.
What qualifications can I achieve with the IFoA?
Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA)
The main function of a CAA is to work in actuarial teams or in wider financial and analytical work where the technical application of actuarial science is required. However, the qualification will also develop wider skills in line with this technical expertise, such as communication and professionalism.
Many of these skills will be assessed in the work-based skills part of the qualification. It will take two to three years to complete and you can study and sit exams around the world, while continuing to work full time.
The qualification would be suitable for:
• School leavers
• Candidates with strong maths skills who are interested in starting their career and learning on the job without having to undertake a degree
• Degree level candidates who have left university and are interested in actuarial
work and current employees of an actuarial organisation
• Perhaps someone who is working in an analytical support role or someone who has started the Fellowship exams but feels their skills would be better served by a more technical qualification.
As an Associate you can practise as an actuary and use the letters AFA or AIA after your name. As an Associate, you will have a breadth of expertise that brings wide and varied opportunities in business and finance. Associates work to the same high ethical and professional standards as Fellows and have the right to vote on matters affecting the future of the profession and the opportunity to be involved in membership forums, events and research.
In order to be an Associate you need to take Core Technical subjects (CT1-9) and Core Application Actuarial Risk Management (CA1). You need to sit examinations in Model documentation, analysis and reporting (CA2) and Communications (CA3).
The Associateship is an internationally recognised qualification in its own right and in many countries it is the most suitable level of qualification to work towards.
As a Fellow you will have completed your studies to an advanced level in order to be specialist in a particular practice area. You can use the letters FIA or FFA after your name and will be highly sought after in your chosen field.
In order to be a Fellow you need to have completed all of the Associate exams, two of the Specialist Technical subjects, one of the Specialist Applications subjects, and meet the three years of work-based skills requirement. Newly qualified Fellows of the IFoA are required to attend a Professional Skills Course within 12 months of being admitted as a Fellow.
Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA)
CERA is a global risk management qualification which the IFoA is accredited to award to members who meet certain criteria once they have gained either the Associate or Fellow qualification. It is one of the most comprehensive and rigorous enterprise risk management qualifications available.
It aims to address the continuing demand for highly-qualified risk management professionals worldwide, especially in the financial sector.
To read more from the official guide to actuarial careers please click here.