Actuary: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:37

Actuaries use statistical techniques and mathematical skills to assess the probability of an event and its financial consequences.

Actuary: job description

What does an actuary do? Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Actuaries evaluate complex risks and assess the potential financial consequences involved.

Typical duties include:

  • analysing statistical data – for example, medical information about people of a particular age group
  • computer modelling of statistics to determine potential risks and to explore ways to reduce them
  • providing advice based on calculations in ways that non-experts can understand
  • preparing presentations and reports
  • monitoring and developing processes and IT systems to ensure they are efficient and compliant with financial regulations
  • building and maintaining professional relationships with clients
  • communicating findings to clients, colleagues, managers and stakeholders
  • keeping abreast of developments in society, politics and the business world.

Working hours tend to be predictable; although extra hours are common, actuaries are not usually required to work at the weekend, and there is scope for flexible/shared working hours depending on the employer.

Graduate salaries

Salaries for graduate and trainee actuaries start at around £31,000 according to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA). Once you’re qualified, your salary will rise considerably: you could earn up to £50,000 at this point in your career. It’s common in this profession to receive bonuses on top of your salary.

Typical employers of actuaries

Typical employers include:

  • life assurance companies
  • pension funds
  • insurance companies and consultancies
  • healthcare providers
  • the government’s Actuary’s Department
  • actuarial consultancies
  • investment banks
  • accountancy firms
  • management consultancies.

Jobs are advertised on targetjobs and via careers services. They are also advertised on specialist sites such as and Roles in the Government Actuary’s Department are advertised on

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into the actuarial profession for both graduates and school leavers.

Graduates usually need at least a 2.1 degree result in a numerate subject such as maths, statistics, economics, physics or similar numerate subjects. You’re also likely to need at least a grade B in maths at A Level/Scottish Higher level.

Many employers offer internships, and these are a great way to gain insights into the work as well as to help your job applications stand out. Internships are sometimes used as a way of evaluating suitable candidates for future positions.

Once you’re employed as a trainee actuary, you’ll need to pass a set of preliminary exams, and complete a period of work-based training to become an associate of the IFoA, at which point you’ll be a qualified actuary. You’ll study and work at the same time, and although employers often provide paid study leave, you’ll need to manage your time carefully. You may be exempt from some of the exams if you have an IFoA accredited degree, an MBA or a masters.

School leavers can take an actuarial technician apprenticeship or a higher apprenticeship.

Key skills for actuaries

Skills actuarial recruiters look for include:

  • excellent numeracy
  • research and analytical ability
  • investigative skills
  • problem-solving abilities
  • attention to detail
  • high level of computer literacy, as you’ll use specialised software
  • good written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to explain complex information to non-experts
  • organisation skills to manage work and study.

Next: search graduate jobs and internships

View our graduate jobs and internships and don't forget to register with targetjobs to get the latest job opportunities, internships, career advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

Related careers advice

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.