What is an actuary?
An Actuary is a professional whose training and expertise in risk evaluation and time-related money values enables her/him to assess the current financial implications of possible future events. She/he would be recognised as such by one of the professional bodies such as The Institute of Actuaries (based in London), The Faculty of Actuaries (based in Scotland) or The Society of Actuaries (based in USA).
How do I become an actuary?
The short answer is: through a long period of intense and difficult study. Ultimately you have to pass all of the examinations of one of the professional bodies mentioned above. The usual and easiest route is first to study Actuarial Science at a university, such as UCT, which offers an actuarial degree. This structured study approach helps a great deal and it is possible to gain many exemptions from the subsequent professional examinations.Most commonly, after finishing the university degree, the student will begin working and complete the balance of the examinations by correspondence. Even here, UCT can offer courses specifically in support of these final examinations.
How long is this all likely to take?
This depends largely on how well and quickly you work. After your 4-year degree, you can expect to need a minimum of another 2 years of part-time study. The median time taken after the degree to qualify (of those graduates that do go on to qualify) is around 5 years.
What do I need in order to start the actuarial course?
You need to have very good Matric results, particularly in Mathematics (A on higher grade) and English (C on higher grade as 1st language).
If I don't like actuarial, can I change my degree after ayear or two?
Yes, there is excellent flexibility to switch to other areas of study. Even if you don't go on to complete the actuarial degree, the core skills you will have assimilated, combined with other business directions, are highly prized in the Financial Services Industry.
Can I do it as a BCom degree rather than a BBusSc degree?
Yes, but the BCom degree does not cover some of the business-related topics that we feel will be useful for an actuary. We usually recommend students to go the BBusSc route.
Will I easily be able to get a job with this degree?
Yes, almost certainly! For many years students with actuarial skills have been highly sought-after in the Financial Services Industry and the areas in which they can operate are also expanding. This is true not only for South Africa, but also internationally. Many students have the opportunity to travel and work in different parts of the world.
Can I find out more on the Internet?
Yes, check out the rest of our website. There is plenty of information there with links to many other useful sites, for example, the various professional bodies internationally.