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.

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Do I Want to Be an Actuarial Associate?

Actuaries create risk assessment profiles for individual clients or corporations. Their duties can include writing insurance policies, managing investments and administering retirement plans that will minimize the financial impact of a potential risk. 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. Depending on the firms that they work for, some might be required to travel.

Job Requirements

These professionals need a bachelor's degree with a strong backgrounds in business, statistics, math and finance. Additionally, written and verbal communication skills are very important. The following table contains the main requirements for being an actuarial associate:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree required**
Degree Field Mathematics, actuarial science, business, statistics*
Licensure and/or Certification Designation as an associate is granted by exam*
Experience Many employers require experience; entry-level positions are also available**
Computer Skills Knowledge of statistical and spreadsheet software*
Key Skills Math skills, computer skills, problem-solving skills*

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 a business-related field such as economics or finance. Aspiring actuaries should also have the ability use computer software programs in statistics and spreadsheets, so courses in computer science are recommended as well.

Step 2: Gain Professional Certification

An associate-level designation is a professional designation that indicates a candidate has passed a series of exams, completed continuing education and attended required seminars. Actuaries can usually reach the associate level within 4-6 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 property and casualty arena. Their areas of examination include personal injury liability, home and automobile insurance, medical malpractice and workers compensation.

Step 3: Pursue Career Advancement

The next level of designation for actuaries after achieving associate status is the fellowship level. This level is also attained through exams, continuing education and experience. It typically takes an actuarial associate 2-3 years to reach the fellowship level of professional designation. Actuaries can complete this professional certification while working.

Employers will 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. Eventually, it is 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, an actuary would use his/her expertise in risk assessment and apply it to the entire organization. They might advance in other managerial positions within a company, such as accounting, underwriting or data processing. It is also conceivable for an actuary to work in a collegiate faculty role or even open a consulting firm.

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