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The road to becoming an actuary is long but rewarding Back  
Becoming an actuary isn’t easy, writes Duncan Robertson, and it takes on average seven years to qualify. Following this, qualified actuaries are expected to demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (CFD), and to continue their education.
An actuary designs solutions to problems that involve financial risk or future uncertainty. This makes actuaries among the most influential professionals in the financial world. Part of their job is to try to predict what money will do when it’s invested in pensions, insurance, stock markets or other financial services. Actuaries solve problems to help protect your future. They combine their business management role with helping to safeguard the financial interests of the public.

Who are we?
There are around 400 qualified actuaries in the Society of Actuaries in Ireland. It’s an ethical profession with the highest standards of practice, integrity and judgement, but it’s also a profession in which you can make your mark. You need to be intelligent and to be good with numbers. This usually means having a good grade in a degree with a high numerical content - subjects like maths, engineering and economics are good. If you’re also logical, good at solving problems and explaining your solutions then there are few careers with more to offer.

How to become an actuary?
The Society of Actuaries in Ireland is not itself an examining body. Most members qualify through the professional examinations of the Institute of Actuaries or the Faculty of Actuaries, both of which are United Kingdom bodies It is readily observed that those completing the examinations have, in practice, a very good Leaving Certificate (near maximum points) and/or a strong degree in a mathematics related subject. The Society requests that anyone giving serious thought to a career as an actuary should have an informal chat with a qualified actuary. If you don’t know an actuary then please contact the Society (00 353 1 660 3064) who will put you in touch with an actuary who will be delighted to help.

Examinations are taken when the candidate chooses and there are two sittings each year. It takes an average of seven years to qualify (given the candidate has no more than a couple of exemptions) for those that qualify and, on balance, only half of those admitted as students actually qualify.

There are three Irish universities offering graduates and diploma courses which provide exemptions from some of the actuarial exams. These are UCD, DCU and UCC. The qualification is fully recognised internationally.

How to maintain professional standards?
The education of an actuary does not stop following qualification. After completing the exams all actuaries are required to attend a Professionalism Course. This course provides actuaries with guidance on how to act in a professional manner and cope with some of the professional conundrums that they may face in their career.

In addition the Society requires its qualified members to demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (CPD). It is very much in the public interest that actuarial advice is soundly based and that actuaries are fully informed and properly developed as professional individuals. The actuarial profession, since its formation, has encouraged the interchange of professional information through the publication and discussion of papers and through less formal means. The CPD scheme formalises this and aims to help members to develop, after completion of the examinations, so they can be fully effective professionally.

The CPD scheme helps members to maintain the high standards of the profession through the giving of relevant and up-to-date advice and allows members to develop new expertise in their traditional areas of work.

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