How to start your actuarial career


The most logical path to becoming an actuary is to study Actuarial Science or Mathematics in university.  In order to get onto these courses students must fulfil a good leaving certificate typically achieving over 500 points and achieve an A1 or A2 or B1 in mathematics.  The points vary from year to year. The courses on offer on the island of Ireland are as follows: University College Dublin UCD offers three types of actuarial courses. The first is a Bachelor of Actuarial and Financial Studies (DN230). The leaving certificate requirements for this course are passes in six subjects including English, Irish, Mathematics (Min HB1) and three other subjects. Two of the six subjects must be minimum HC3. The points required for this course remained at 560, unchanged from 2013. UCD also offers a MSc in Actuarial Science (F034) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Actuarial Science (F036). Applicants for both of these programmes are expected to have a very good foundation in mathematics and/or statistics and should have the equivalent of an Irish 2.1 honours degree in a quantitative area such as mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering or economics and/or finance. Depending on module choices and exam results these three courses can result in exemptions from up to eight Core Technical Stage subjects (CT1-CT8) and from CA1. Dublin City University DCU offers a BSc. in Actuarial Mathematics (DC126). The Leaving Certificate entry requirements for this course include the general entry requirements (Grade C3 in two Higher Level subjects and Grade D3 in four Ordinary or Higher Level subjects including English or Irish) and a B3 in Higher Level Mathematics. Last year the Leaving Certificate points requirement for this course were 515, and increased to 535 in 2014  DCU also offers a common entry route to BSc in Actuarial Mathematics (DC127), a BSc in Financial Mathematics, and a BSc in Applicable Mathematics, which keeps students’ options open and allows them to decide which route to pursue after two years of study. The Leaving Certificate entry requirements for this course include the general entry requirements and 480 points, which was a jump from 2013’s requirement of 430. Depending on module choices and exam results these courses can result in exemptions from up to eight Core Technical Stage subjects (CT1-CT8). Additionally DCU offers a one year Graduate Certificate in Actuarial Applications (GCAA) course on a part-time basis which is primarily aimed at individuals who are in full-time employment in actuarial practice or related disciplines. This course allows for exemptions in CA1 and CA3. Applicants are required to have passed or be exempt from all the CT examinations and to be in full time actuarial employment. University College Cork UCC offers a BSc in Financial Mathematics and Actuarial Science (CK407). This course requires a HC3 in two subjects and passes in four other subjects at higher or ordinary level in the Leaving Certificate, and applicants must have a HB3 or higher in Mathematics. In 2013 the points required for this programme were 530 and increased to 555 this year. UCC also offers a MSc in Actuarial Science (CKR46). Candidates must have obtained at least a second class honours primary degree in engineering, finance, physical or mathematical sciences, or equivalent, or in a degree with a strong numerate content, and must have demonstrated by their performance in relevant modules that they possess the numeracy skills required for this MSc degree course. Completion of either of these programmes may result in students being exempt from up to eight Core Technical Stage subjects (CT1-CT8), depending on module choices and exam results. Queen’s University Belfast Queens offers a BSc in Actuarial Science and Risk Management (UCAS Code: N323). The A level requirements of this course are A*AA including Mathematics (equivalent of 420 points) or AAA A (AS) including A-Level Mathematics (equivalent of 470 points). On completion of this course students may be exempt from up to eight Core Technical Stage subjects (CT1-CT8), depending on module choices and exam results. Mathematics Route University of Limerick UL offers a Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics (LM058), which can result in an exemption from CT3. This course requires Grade C3 in two Higher Level subjects and Grade D3 in four Ordinary or Higher Level subjects including English or Irish and a C3 in Higher Level Mathematics. Last year the Leaving Certificate points requirements was 430 in 2013, and rose to 435 this year. There are a number of mathematics and finance degrees from universities such as NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, and Trinity College Dublin from which students may receive exemptions from the Core Technical examinations. Students are advised to contact the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for more information. Mathematics graduates versus actuarial graduates. The actuarial courses offered in Ireland are well regarded.  There is however a growing trend for employers to favour Maths graduates over actuarial graduates when it comes to recruiting new junior trainee actuaries.  There are three main reasons for this as follows:
  • Typically Maths graduates come to the employer with minimal exemptions from the actuarial qualification systems which means that they are less expensive than actuarial graduates.
  • Maths graduates take longer to qualify as they need to start with the core technical exams which means that by the time they qualify they truly have the experience that is valued by employers to go with the qualification.
  • One of the core skills that most employers need their new trainee actuaries to have is using Excel. Unbelievably the maths courses still have higher training levels in excel.
There are of course still many employers who seek out those actuarial graduates who are at the top of their classes in college. Graduates of both types can secure a trainee actuary position and either start or continue with the exams set by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Most employers offer study support for these exams in both financial terms and by giving time off for study during exam season.  As well as the exams, trainee actuaries must complete three years of work based skills experience in order to qualify. If you are either a math, stats or actuarial graduate looking for your first step into an actuarial career then contact Jacqui van Teutem at Raretec Recruitment Ltd on 015311400 or 0862931015 or through email at Jacqui.vanteutem@raretec.ie

  • Job Title: How to start your actuarial career
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