How to Become an Actuarial Associate: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become an actuarial associate. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in actuarial science.

Should I Become an Actuarial Associate?

Actuaries create risk assessment profiles for individual clients or corporations. Their duties include writing insurance policies, managing investments, and administering retirement plans that will minimize the financial impact of a potential risk. The title of actuarial associate is a designation within the profession indicating one has passed specific examinations in the field. Many actuaries spend most of their working hours sitting in an office, and some jobs require traveling.

These professionals need a bachelor's degree with a strong background in business, statistics, math and finance. Additionally, written and verbal communication skills are very important.

Career Requirements

Degree LevelBachelor's degree
Degree FieldMathematics, actuarial science, business, statistics
CertificationCertification is required
ExperienceMany employers require experience
Key SkillsMath, computer, problem-solving skills, proficiency with statistical and spreadsheet software
Salary (2014)$96,700 per year (Median salary for all actuaries)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, various job postings (November 2012)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

In order to become an actuary, a candidate must have a bachelor's degree. An individual seeking to become an actuary typically has an undergraduate degree in actuarial science, statistics or mathematics. The candidate may also opt for a degree in economics or finance. Aspiring actuaries should know how to use statistic and spreadsheet computer software programs, so courses in computer science are recommended.

Step 2: Gain Professional Certification

An associate designation indicates a candidate has passed a series of exams, completed continuing education, and attended required seminars. Actuaries can reach the associate level within four to six years. An actuary needs to be certified by a professional society sponsor program in order to achieve full professional status within their chosen specialty. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) certifies actuaries in finance, investment, health insurance, life insurance and retirement systems. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) certifies actuaries in the areas of property and casualty by testing candidates about personal injury liability, home and automobile insurance, medical malpractice and workers compensation.

Step 3: Obtain Fellowship Certification

The next level of designation for actuaries after achieving associate status is the fellowship level. This level is attained through exams, continuing education and experience. It takes an actuarial associate approximately two to three years to reach the fellowship level of professional designation. Actuaries can complete this professional certification while working. Employers often provide study time and pay the examination fees for actuaries seeking to advance in their careers. An increase in pay is common after passing exams.

Step 4: Gain Experience and Pursue Advancement

Eventually, it's possible for an actuarial associate to move into executive positions within a company, such as chief financial officer or chief risk officer. In a position of this nature, actuaries are in charge of the risk assessment for an entire organization. They might advance in other managerial positions within a company, such as accounting, underwriting or data processing. Actuaries can find employment on the faculty of colleges and universities, and they can open their own consulting firms.

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