You can read information about role responsibilities, salary, working hours, what to expect, qualifications, skills, work experience, career prospects and related roleson the following Prospects Job Profiles:
You might also see other job profiles of interest in the Accountancy, banking and finance profiles page (which gives links to the 31 profiles in the sector).
Undertaking actuarial work experience helps with applications for permanent positions later by demonstrating that you know what the work is all about, that you know you will enjoy it, and by showing that you have a commitment to and long-lasting interest in the sector. In addition it gives the employer an opportunity to have a long hard look at you – and if you perform well you may be offered a graduate trainee position for the following year. By experiencing the work of an actuary whilst at university, you will also be able to make later decisions about which speciality you might like to go into.
Application deadlines in businesses that offer actuarial positions vary from company to company, so keep an eye on their websites throughout the year. Bear in mind that relevant experience can also be gained in positions other than actuary-specific jobs, including more generally finance-related roles.
To find employers offering internships:
Although an internship is ideal, another option is to take a speculative approach and contact employers who are not advertising formal internships to see if you can get some work experience or work shadowing. This may also be more appropriate for earlier years students as some employers only offer internships to penultimate year students. Applications should ideally be made from December through to March. Some firms may also have open days where you can speak to actuaries and find out more about the profession. Opportunities can sometimes be found through networking and you can also check LinkedIn for possible contacts.
If you continue to struggle to find an internship then another option is to approach larger insurance companies, particularly departments dealing with data analysis where you can learn relevant administration and data skills.
(see the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) website for a list of member agencies).
Actuarial vacancies can still be available in Spring and even in the Summer, although serious candidates should ensure they apply as early as possible in the autumn to try to obtain the position, employer and location they prefer.
Submitting a speculative application to an employer who is not visibly advertising any vacancies is another often successful approach to employment. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries has a list of actuarial firms.
Full time postgraduate courses in actuarial science are available for students thinking about this option. Have a look at the institutions listed on the IFoA website. These courses can give exemption from a number of the professional examinations. The full time study option can gain you time in passing the examinations, though it will lose you a year of practical experience. Employers can have mixed feelings about applicants who have lots of exemptions from exams, so full-time actuarial study does not guarantee an advantage in the job market and you are very likely to have to fund it yourself.
Through a combination of self-study and distance learning courses (provided by specialists such as the Actuarial Education Company (ActEd)) students take the professional examinations at a pace that suits them, though to qualify as an Associate member of the profession (a process that also involves practical modules to achieve a satisfactory level of work-based skills) typically takes between three and six years. Prospects notes that 'The Associate-level qualification is recognised internationally as meeting the minimum requirements to be an actuary and qualifies members to use the letters AIA or AFA'.
Sponsorship for a postgraduate degree can be available through The Worshipful Company of Actuaries.
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Take Away from the Careers Centre
General actuarial-related careers information
The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.
The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.
The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The link below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.