Becoming a Trainee 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 a trainee 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.
- 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 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.
Trainee Actuaries work in a range of different practice areas:
Trainee actuaries advise companies on all aspects of their pension scheme design and structure. They work alongside other professionals and provide actuarial advice.
Trainee actuaries work on pricing products such as motor and household insurance, advice on reserves and capital requirements, and may be involved in reinsurance arrangements.
In the reinsurance fields, trainee actuaries can design and price reinsurance and retro-reinsurance schemes, and to establish reserve funds for known claims and future claims and catastrophes.
This is the most traditional area for trainee actuaries to work in. Roles include financial reporting, product development and pricing. Actuaries may also advise on investment strategies, business planning, and strategic risk measurement.
Enterprise Risk Management
This is a new actuarial field. Trainee actuaries are involved in the identification, measuring and monitoring of risks to limit a company’s losses. The level of risk taken is analyzed with regard the companies profit expectation.
Health & Care
This is a growing area and trainee actuaries are needed both in the private and public sectors. Trainee actuaries may be involved in pricing medical insurance and critical illness contracts or projecting public healthcare costs in the future.
This area is suited to trainee actuaries with strong problem-solving skills, who enjoy a variety of work in a multi-disciplinary environment. A role in this area may involve working on large corporate transactions, M&A’s and strategic investments.
Environmental Impact Modelling
An increasingly important aspect in the evaluation of both existing and proposed changes to the environment, habitats, drainage and topography due to main-made or climate changes to the land, air or water.
Finance & Investment
Trainee actuaries are involved in the day -to -day activity of the capital markets. They advise on investment strategies and long term targets.
Education, Universities, professional bodies
Trainee actuaries are involved in the development of exam material and the setting and marking of examinations. Trainee actuaries can also work as tutors and lecturers. Within the Professional bodies actuaries work to ensure all members are kept up to date with legislative changes and the organization of CPD events.
Central Bank/Financial Regulator & Other Regulatory Bodies
Trainee actuaries employed in this area ensure that the companies in their region comply with all relevant legislation.
Interview with an Actuary
Excerpt taken from http://www.financejobs.ie/
What skills/aptitude would you identify as being key/beneficial to a career in actuary?
The obvious one is an aptitude for mathematics although I think the importance of this can be overstated. There isn’t all that much maths involved in actuarial work anymore – computers have taken away a lot of the hard sums! It’s important to have a logical brain and a good ability for problem solving. Communication skills are becoming increasingly important. These days people are less inclined to accept a fact simply because an actuary says it (definitely a positive development!) and it is important to be able to explain actuarial issues to those who don’t have a similar qualification.
What aspects of the job do you like most?
I enjoy working on new developments, particularly new products or systems. It’s great to be part of a team when there’s a sense of excitement and when everyone is focused on the same goal. I enjoy getting involved in broader issues beyond the strict actuarial scope, being out with the Royal Liver sales force, meeting our customers and seeing the different issues that arise from different parts of the business.
What aspects of the job do you like least?
I suppose I dislike the boring stuff – doesn’t everyone! Mundane tasks that simply have to be repeated on a regular basis aren’t the most exciting aspect of any job but have to be done.
Where would you see yourself in five years? What is your goal in actuary? How do you define success in actuary?
Five years is a long time! Actuaries in life insurance tend to work towards one of two goals – they either follow the strict actuarial road with the ultimate aim of becoming appointed actuary of a life company or they move into a more general management role and move away from simply actuarial work. So far I’m following the second route and enjoying it. As part of the Royal Liver management team I am acquiring a boarder knowledge of other departments and general operations which is very enjoyable. I wouldn’t rule out a return to the actuarial route at some stage but my priority for the moment is to get more general management experience.
What advice would you give to others who might like a career in actuary?
There’s a number of different ways of entering the profession and it’s important to talk to people and research the various alternatives. There’s no doubt that choosing a degree that receives exemptions from some of the actuarial exams speeds up what can be a long slow process. Everyone who wants to be an actuary needs to be prepared to put their head down and slog away for a couple of years, which I suppose is the case with a lot of professions nowadays.
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