Actuary Certification

Actuaries use mathematics to predict the likelihood of future events.

Actuaries use mathematics to predict the likelihood of future events.

The job of an actuary is consistently identified as one of the best jobs to have based on employment outlook, job security, job growth and salary potential. Actuaries use mathematics to determine how likely it is that a financial event will occur in the future. They use this information to help companies avoid undesirable future events or to minimize their impact. To become certified as an actuary, there is a rigorous course of study and set of examinations you must pass. There are two levels of actuarial certification: associate and fellow.

Associate Knowledge

You receive your first certification as an actuary when you are accepted into the Society of Actuaries as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. An associate has demonstrated a solid understanding of the concepts and methods for creating models and managing risk. The associate has also demonstrated the ability to apply these concepts and methods to uncertain future events. Associates understand the professional code of conduct for an actuary and agree to adhere to recognized standards.

Associate Exam Requirements

To become an associate, you must pass the following exams: Probability (P); Financial Mathematics (FM); Models for Financial Economics (MFE); Models for Life Contingencies (MLC) and Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (C). You must also complete an e-learning course on the fundamentals of the actuarial practice and a course in professionalism. Once you pass the exams, you can submit your application to the Society of Actuaries for acceptance.

Fellow Knowledge

An associate may choose to continue the actuarial exam program to become a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. A fellow has shown he can apply actuarial concepts to business environments and has demonstrated a solid understanding of how financial decisions are made in businesses concerning pension plans, life and health insurance and investments. Fellows also demonstrate in-depth knowledge of actuarial science in one of the following chosen specialty areas: finance, investment, individual life and annuities, retirement benefits and group and health.

Fellow Exam Requirements

To become a fellow, you must pass the exams required to become an Associate of the Society, choose a specialty area and pass five exams specific to your chosen area. Candidates in all specialty areas must also complete the Decision Making and Communication (DMAC) module and attend the Fellowship Admissions Course (FAC). In the United States, actuaries in the retirement benefits area must pass exams to become an enrolled actuary. An enrolled actuary is authorized to perform actuarial services and to sign IRS documents that require an actuary's certification for programs covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.


About the Author

Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.

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