How many qualified actuaries are there worldwide?
There are just under 9,000 qualified actuaries (FIA) worldwide.
How long does it take to qualify as an actuary?
The average person will take between 6-8 years to qualify as an Actuary (if they have no exemptions at the start of their actuarial career). With university exemptions the length of time would be expected to be less.
What areas do actuaries work in?
Traditionally Actuaries worked in the areas of pension consulting, general insurance, life insurance and investments. However, you will see actuaries working more and more in other areas of the financial sector such as investment banking where their ability to identify, quantify and manage risks comes in useful.
What types of skills are needed to become a good actuary?
To be a good actuary you must have good numerical and statistical skills, be a good communicator, be able to identify and solve problems, and be able to manage many tasks at the same time.
Why choose Queen’s for Actuarial Science?
Queen’s university is a leading academic and research driven university with an excellent record for high quality teaching. Actuary at Queen’s is ranked 2nd in the UK based on student satisfaction. Staff on the programme consist of experienced actuaries, finance professors and lecturers. The programme has been shaped by the needs of industry.
Is the BSc course in Actuarial Science and Risk Management not too specialised?
Even if you decide not to become an actuary, you will have gained many transferable skills through the programme and placement year such as time management, problem solving, mathematical analysis, communication and presentation skills which will put you in a strong position for applying to many jobs especially in the financial services sector.
What subjects will I study during my actuarial degree?
The first year
- Learn the mathematical skills you will need in order to study later modules.
- Be introduced to traditional economic theory.
- Learn about a company’s financial reports, and the financial environment and markets in which actuaries operate.
The second year
- Be introduced to some standard actuarial techniques. This will include an introduction to annuities and mortality functions, used by actuaries working in life insurance and pensions, and general insurance models used by actuaries who are estimating claims experience or pricing general insurance business.
- Develop your understanding of the financial markets, learn how to evaluate alternative investment opportunities and learn about portfolio management.
- Prepare for your placement year.
The final year
- Study advanced techniques for quantifying movements in financial data series.
- Build on the actuarial skills acquired in the second year of the degree, learn about survival models and place these in a practical context.
- Learn about the characteristics and pricing techniques of more complex derivative instruments, used to manage risk and enhance return in the financial markets.
How does the placement year work?
During the third year of your degree you will be expected to complete between 9-15 months on placement with an actuarial firm. This will give you the practical experience necessary to enable you to fit into an actuarial job more smoothly when you complete your degree.
You will begin preparation for your placement year during the second year of your degree and will complete the placement during your fourth year with a presentation to second year students on how you found your placement.
In addition, some of our students are finding opportunities to work in an actuarial environment during their summer holidays.
What are career prospects like?
Career prospects for actuarial students are very good - the main employers are pension consultancies, insurance companies and finance houses. There are high rewards available.
The majority of actuarial positions are in Dublin and London although good job prospects also exist in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Glasgow. There are a limited but growing number of opportunities in Belfast.
What is the average salary of a qualified actuary?
Nationally, a newly qualified actuary can expect to earn somewhere in the region of £45,000 - £65,000 depending on the area of practice and the geographical location. 5-10 years post qualification that figure can rise to over £100,000.
Explain the examination exemptions?
In order to become a fully qualified actuary, trainee actuaries must take several exams set by the Institute of Actuaries. Instead of doing these exams whilst working for an actuarial firm, you can do a substantial number of these exams during the course of your studies at Queen’s.
Having a significant proportion of the professional examinations behind you when you leave University increases your employability and reduces the length of time studying and working after University.
The Actuarial Science and Risk Management degree at Queen’s has been granted exemption from subjects CT1 through to CT8 of the professional exams. This is the most exemptions offered by any UK university offering an Actuarial degree. Please click here to read more information.
What kind of help and support is there for me when I study at Queens?
Every student on a course within our Department has a personal tutor. The tutor is the student’s first point of contact when he/she requires advice on academic and non-academic issues, and will help him/her adjust to University life, particularly in the first few weeks.
Another important role the tutor has is to help students to maintain a strategic overview of their whole University career. It is usually the tutor who provides a student with a letter of reference whenever he/she needs it.
Beside the tutor system, the University has an excellent support structure in place to help students when they encounter difficulties (e.g. illness, bereavement, accommodation issues, financial worry, etc.).
Can I transfer out of the degree if I discover that I really have made the wrong choice for me?
There may be the possibility to transfer between the degrees of Actuarial Science and Risk Management, Finance, Accounting and Economics, although it would have to be discussed with your tutor and your Adviser of Studies.
What is financial mathematics?
Financial mathematics is the application of mathematical methods to finance to help solve problems and make decisions in the face of uncertainty. The basic mathematics that underlies the subject is probability theory. Financial mathematics is used primarily to price assets but is also important in risk management and asset management.
Do students from this course gain employment in the actuarial field after their degree?
We are very proud of the high employment rate of the students graduating off our Actuarial degree programme. The vast majority of our students go into actuarial roles very shortly after graduating. You may also find this testimonial helpful.
“As an Actuarial Recruitment agency for actuaries in Ireland, Acumen Resources have been proudly sponsoring a prize every year for students excelling on the QUB Actuarial Science Programme. Over the last number of years, we have placed many students from the QUB Actuarial Science degree into jobs across Ireland. We have always found the actuarial students from QUB to be technically strong as well as generally having well-developed communication skills following their degree.”
- Paul Walsh FIA (CEO of Acumen Resources)
Where can I find out more about the actuarial profession, in general?
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an actuary or the actuarial profession, in general, please refer to the following links:
The UK's chartered professional body dedicated to educating, developing and regulating actuaries based both in the UK and internationally is known as “The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries” and their website can be found here.
A list of useful site for actuaries in Ireland and the UK can be found here.
Read about actuarial related topics (such as Data Science, Insurtech, Actuarial Study, CPD, Productivity, Business Psychology and Technology) here