How To Become An Actuary In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become Actuaries in Australia.


Are you a mathematically minded person and possess good analytical abilities? 


Actuaries perform mathematical, statistical, economic, and financial analyses to examine and reduce risk in different business environments. They use their specialized knowledge to help businesses develop the right corporate plan for growth and future investments.


To become an Actuary in Australia, you must complete an accredited Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Studies or a Bachelor of Actuarial Science. You must also complete an Actuaries Institute Education Program to work as a qualified actuary.


Whether you are serious about becoming an actuary or just curious about the role, this article will tell you what it’s like to become an Actuary and how you can become one.



1. What Is An Actuary?


Actuaries are business professionals who measure and manage risk and uncertainty in a business to help maintain their financial health.


They conduct statistical analysis of bulk data based on trends and costing to decide whether an insurance product should be issued and at what premium. They may adjust premium rates and terms if needed based on their examination.



2. Reasons To Study Actuary Qualifications


Do you need clarification about whether an Actuary qualification will benefit you? 


Here are the top reasons why studying for this versatile degree will boost your employment prospects:


  • A Bachelor’s in Actuarial Studies is an internationally recognized degree that lets you work in developed and developing economies.


  • An Actuarial qualification provides you with thorough learning of statistics, mathematics, demography, finance, analytics, and economics to help you develop the essential actuarial skillset.


  • The degree empowers you to work on significant real-life issues for many sectors, such as life insurance, general insurance, health insurance companies, financial institutions, and governments. You get the opportunity to help companies solve problems related to valuing and pricing their products and managing their risks. Thus, the skills you gain from this course will enable you to take on various roles in a wide range of business settings worldwide.


  • Pursuing an Actuarial degree is a great way to make a social contribution. With the skills you gain during the course, you can formulate effective retirement income policies to help older people in society.


  • Qualified actuaries can help companies manage financial risks from various social and economic factors. These risks include natural disasters, death, ailment, disability, monetary and fiscal policy changes, unemployment, inflation, etc.


  • Being an Actuary, you get the privilege to join a highly regarded professional network and gain the support and fellowship of an elite group of peers throughout Australia and abroad.



3. Duties And Responsibilities Of An Actuary


A typical day of an actuary involves several challenging tasks such as:


  • Apply mathematical, economic, financial, and statistical analysis to business areas concerning insurance premiums, dividends, retirement funds, annuities, and pensions to evaluate risks and opportunities

  • Inspect and analyze statistics to identify risks and compute the likely financial consequences of such risks.

  • Prepare fiscal models, budgets, financial reserves, and monetary projections for general insurance and life insurance firms, government organizations, banking, and loan lending institutions, etc.

  • Assess the likelihood of future events such as unemployment, economic trends, interest rate change, and illness. Further, specify premiums and possible return rates, and design new types of retirement, life insurance, and policies for clients.

  • Ensure companies have adequate funds to reduce the impact of uncertainty and risk.

  • Plan future investments based on the financial risk assessments of businesses 

  • Advise potential buyers or sellers on profit distribution



4. What Skills Do You Need To Become An Actuary?


Every career requires some basic skills to perform the job, and the actuary is no different. 


To thrive in this demanding profession, you need the following skills:


  • Enjoy solving problems

  • An eye for detail

  • Administrative abilities

  • Good Advising skills

  • Numerical proficiency

  • Able to manage large data streams to determine trends

  • Expertise in regulatory issues, risk and compliance, and policymaking,

  • Superior Estimation and Analytical skills

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

  • Able to think logically and clearly

  • Good concentration

  • Computer literacy

  • Problem-solving abilities

  • Good working knowledge of MS Excel

  • Able to work independently

  • Able to manage risks

  • Able to form data-based decisions



5. Relevant Qualifications To Become An Actuary In Australia?


Employers in Australia prefer job applicants who are qualified and have work experience to work in this role:


  • Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English and Mathematics

  • An undergraduate degree in actuarial science or statistical analysis, such as a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies or a Bachelor of Actuarial Science.

  • Complete the “Part II and Part III syllabus” offered by the Actuaries Institute, the governing body for actuaries in Australia. 

  • Aspiring actuaries must also complete the 3 -year practical experience and the professionalism course and gain a fellowship from the institute to become a qualified associate actuary.



6. Steps To Become An Actuary In Australia


The roadmap to becoming a qualified actuary takes years of hard work, dedication, and continuous study. 


The entire coursework comprises four parts that we are going to look at here in detail:



Step 1: Complete The Part 1 or Foundation Program


Pursuing an Actuary profession starts with studying for an undergraduate actuarial degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in actuarial studies. 


The degree provides comprehensive knowledge of eight basic subjects such as:


  • Financial Mathematics

  • Probability & mathematical statistics

  • Contingencies

  • Statistical methods

  • Models

  • Economics

  • Financial economics

  • Finance & financial reporting



Step 2: Complete The Actuary Program


Once you qualify, the next step is to learn the practical implementation of technical actuarial knowledge. It is for valuing, pricing, and solvency measurement to various real-time problems across different business settings.


The Actuary program provides a holistic view of principles and concepts involved in actuarial work. It enables students to apply the skills in different types of businesses.


Thus, a student gets an outline of the actuarial work in developing and continuing the administration of a financial product, scheme, or enterprise.


There are a total of 4 subjects covered in the program. Two of which are taught by the below-mentioned universities:


  • Macquarie University, Sydney

  • University of Melbourne 

  • Australian National University, Canberra 

  • University of New South Wales, Sydney


The remaining two subjects are delivered online by the Actuaries Institute. The entire program comprises a series of training, management, and assessment that makes newly qualified actuaries ready to start their practice.


Those who have completed the Actuary program qualify for admission into the Actuaries Institute.


After, they can attend the online “Fellowship Program” and obtain the legal status of ‘actuary’ in Australia.



Step 3: Take Up A Professionalism Course


It is a 3-day residential seminar explicitly designed for newly qualified actuaries. 


It gives them a gist of being an actuary professional and teaches the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with this profession.



Step 4: Gain The Experience


Along with the above qualifications, you must complete a minimum of 1 year of relevant practical experience approved by the Actuaries Institute.


Qualified actuaries with an equivalent overseas qualification can become Accredited Members of the Actuaries Institute after staying in Australia for six months and attaining relevant work experience.



National bodies related to actuaries are:




7. Relevant Actuary Degree Courses In Australia



Bachelor of Actuarial Studies - UNSW


Studying actuary at UNSW prepares students for quantitative roles in insurance, retirement planning, and financial services industries.


The course helps them develop specialized quantitative skills in financial mathematics, actuarial models, machine learning, Artificial Intelligence analytics, probability, and commerce.


Industry experts design the course to ensure that the knowledge, experience, and skills, gained are relevant and in demand.


Internship and networking opportunities and the ability to choose the area of specialization help students advance professionally and diversify their careers in various fields such as finance, investment bankinggovernmentconsultinginsurance, and superannuation.



A Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science


Monash University conducts three years accredited full-time Bachelor of Actuarial Science course equipping students with the required analytical and technical skills. It helps them to evaluate, recognize, and manage risk from financial perspectives.


Students will learn the following: finance, economic statistics, macroeconomics, corporate finance, microeconomics, debt markets, financial accounting, and fixed incomes securities. Additionally, they will learn how to implement mathematical concepts in real-life cases.



8. How Long Does It Take To Become An Actuary In Australia?


Becoming a qualified Actuary in Australia requires a combination of a Bachelor of Actuary Studies (4 years), practical experience (3 years), and professional examinations.


It may take seven years or more to start working as an Actuary in Australia.



9. Work Conditions For Actuaries



Work Hours


Full-time actuaries usually work traditional hours of 42 hours per week, which is comparable to the industry’s average of 44 hours. 


They may need to work overtime to meet strict deadlines.





Actuary mainly works in an office environment, mostly indoors in a comfortable setting. While at work, actuaries primarily work with people in a team.


Most actuaries work for insurance firms. Some financial service providers have dedicated actuarial departments that administer investment risks.



Nature of Employment


Based on Job Outlook, around 79% of actuaries in Australia work full-time, which is higher than the industry’s average of 66%. 


This shows that the profession is ideal for those seeking a full-time position in the industry.





The average age of Actuaries employed in Australia is 37 years compared to the industry’s average of 40 years.





A good percentage of females, i.e., 43%, work in this profession. This shows the job presents favourable work opportunities for both male and female candidates.



10. Employment Opportunities For An Actuary In Australia


Actuary courses In Australia are globally relevant and enable a qualified actuary to work in developing and developed economies throughout the globe. Actuaries work as consultants or executives in financial institutions assisting different organizations.


Though Actuaries work in several regions of Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales are the states where most workers are employed.


The top three conventional industries that recruit Actuaries regularly are: 


Financial and Insurance Services (Banks, Fund Management, Superannuation Insurance, Investments), Government, Scientific and Technical Services, and Academic and Training.


Employment opportunities also exist in up-and-coming high-growth sectors such as Data AnalyticsEnvironment, and Energy resources for actuaries in Australia.



11. Job Prospects For Actuaries In Australia


This is a small profession that employs highly skilled professionals. The number of workers rose strongly over the last five years, with around 9,800 actuaries working in 2020. The government expects moderate and steady future growth in this sector.


Besides working as an actuary, they can use their skills in various other professions, such as life insurance, general insurance, health insurance, superannuation policies, and more.



12. How Much Does An Actuary Earn In Australia?


According to Indeed data, the average actuary salary in Australia is $107,640 annually. 


The average weekly and hourly actuary salary in Australia is $1,969 and $71.18per hour, respectively.



Highest Paying Australian Cities For Actuaries Are:


  • Brisbane QLD: $109 per hour

  • Melbourne VIC: $88.05 per hour

  • Sydney NSW: $66.39 per hour

  • Canberra ACT: $56.99 per hour

  • Surry Hills NSW: $54.50 per hour



Actuary Salary Based on Experience:


Based on PayScale data, an entry-level Actuary salary (< 1-year experience): is AU$71,818 per year.


  • An early career Actuary salary (1 to 4 years of experience): AU$85,000 per year.

  • A mid-career Actuary salary (5 to 9 years of experience): AU$119,832 in a year.

  • An experienced Actuary salary (10 to 19 years of experience): AU$118,704 in a year.



13. What Are The Common Employment Areas Of Actuaries?


There are more than 3,700 actuaries in Australia. 


Most of them work in new and high-growth areas, such as data science, climate risk, and energy resources, along with core areas, such as insurance, wealth management, investments, superannuation, banking, and health financing.



14. Available Job Roles For Actuaries In Australia


A qualified actuary can work in many varied industries, with the insurance sector being the major employer in Australia.


Here are the 12 "in-demand" roles for a professional with an actuary degree:


  • Life Insurance Actuary

  • Pension Actuary

  • Health Insurance Actuary

  • Enterprise Risk Management Actuary

  • Property And Casualty Actuary

  • Finance Actuary

  • Investment Actuary

  • Valuation Actuary

  • Reinsurance Pricing Actuary

  • Pricing Actuary

  • Forensic Actuary

  • Corporate Actuary



15. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How Many Actuarial Exams Are There in Australia?


Not much information is available about how many exam actuary students must take to qualify for this role.


However, according to the Actuaries Australia website, students must sit one examination and complete a multiple-choice test each six-month semester of their course.



Who Hires The Most Actuaries?


According to Labour Market Insights, around 83.6% of actuaries work in Financial And Insurance Services. Other employers include:


  • Professional, scientific, and technical services

  • Public administration and safety

  • Administrative and support services.



Is There a Shortage of Actuaries?


Yes. Existing actuarial teams are short-staffed for the following reasons:

  • Increasingly complex compliance and regulatory requirements.

  • The need to obtain in-depth insights and data analytics to compete in the market.

  • The high-difficulty level of passing actuary exams makes it unappealing for most youths.


As the world moves into the machine automation era and expands into new territories, such as Artificial Intelligence, the job opportunities for actuaries will continue to grow in Australia.


Furthermore, actuaries are great problem solvers and risk managers; they will be in high demand to manage and mitigate risks in the insurance and protection sector.



What Is The Highest-Paid Actuarial Field?


Below are the highly-paid actuary positions with their entry-level salary range:


  • Life Insurance Actuary: AUD76K to AUD95K 

  • Health Insurance Actuary: AUD 80K to AUD 98K

  • Savings and Retirement Actuary: AUD 68K to AUD 92K 

  • Property and Casualty Actuary: AUD 74K to AUD 105K



Is Actuary a Stressful Job?


Being an Actuary is a highly responsible job. They are in charge of handling large amounts of money and guiding the financial and investment decisions of companies and their clients, respectively.


Actuary is responsible for making accurate calculations to predict events, prevent financial issues, and manage the financial risks in an organization. All these tasks come with a great sense of accountability.


Furthermore, senior-level actuaries often work long hours to manage a team while attending to their tasks. It can lead to stress in them.


Another challenging aspect of this profession is that it is mentally draining. Actuaries extensively use math, statistics, and probability and spend loads of time forecasting events and reducing their financial repercussions in coming years.


If you aspire to become an actuary, ensure you have strong mathematical skills and are prepared to solve problems, learn, and face new challenges daily in this profession.



Is it Hard To Become an Actuary in Australia?


Yes. It isn't easy to get into an Actuary profession due to the following reasons:



Intense Competition


Actuarial science is one of the top occupations to pursue in Australia. Despite this, the actuarial industry is small, and the number of candidates aspiring for this profession has grown fast. It leads to intense competition within the actuarial employment market.



Challenging Testing Requirements 


It is another significant cause that makes it hard to be an actuary in Australia. As medical students must undergo several years of study to be doctors, an actuarial student must pass challenging professional examinations to qualify for an actuary role.


Based on their specialty and state-level requirements, an actuary may require taking tests every few months through an accredited academy or a professional organization. Due to this, it takes up to a decade to fully qualify as an actuary.


Also, professional exams are challenging and involve considerable studying and precision. You must have a specific aptitude level, a thorough understanding of various concepts, including law, business, math, and economics, and the ability to do fast and accurate calculations in the specified period.


Most actuaries fail exams and have to retake them several times to succeed. Those who use good study aids and have persistence, discipline, and the right mindset eventually pass the exam.



Extensive Educational Requirements


Actuaries usually need to know various disciplines and have experience in business principles. To beat the competition, they often require advanced degrees like a master's or doctorate within a relevant field.



13. Conclusion


Actuarial science is among the most highly challenging and rewarding careers globally. Becoming an Actuary requires several years of learning. However, the effort you put in will be well worth it.


Aspiring actuaries should know that actuarial science qualifications open the doorway to career opportunities in the finance, banking, and mathematics industries. 


Considering the continuous technological growth, they must have a passion for a lifetime of learning to succeed and endure in this profession.


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