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How to become an actuary

How to become an actuary

How to become an actuary

The actuary is a senior insurance technician. It carries out economic, financial, and statistical studies to finalize contracts, and it assesses the risks, costs, and profitability. It sets prices and monitors operating results.

Business description

The actuary is involved upstream of the design of insurance contracts. It participates in their development, particularly on the technical level, defining the rules, pricing scale, and profitability. 

The actuary also plays a significant role in accepting a contract, sharing the risk in co-insurance, or reinsuring the risk with another insurance company. Its expertise is also requested by banks and companies in the financial sector.

Methodical, concise, and precise, he negotiates these various procedures with study managers, brokers, general agents, and partners of competing companies.

It is involved in the financial management of contributions placed in savings. It researches and centralizes data, develops and presents the results of analyses in tables, scales, and formulas.

The actuary usually works at the head office of an insurance company, with trips to the operating networks. Most calculation-based activities involve using the most specialized computer tools and software.

In addition to these technical activities, the actuary has managerial responsibilities.

The organization of its work is carried out with complete autonomy. It operates in insurance companies, retirement, and provident funds, brokerage firms, financial institutions, economic research departments of banks, and large companies.

Studies / Training to Become an Actuary

After a general scientific baccalaureate, the training (at bac + 5 levels) is predominantly mathematical, statistical, and economical. Examples of training: 

bac + 5 level

Eight initial training courses are recognized by the Institute of Actuaries and give access to the status of Associate Actuary of the Institute of Actuaries: ISFA, ISUP, University of Strasbourg, EURIA, University of Paris Dauphine, ENSAE, ESSEC, the College of Engineers + Cnam (in continuing education). 

Other training can also lead to the profession (examples):

  • Master SALADS – statistics and actuarial science applied in non-life and health insurance (Iriaf – University of Poitiers)

Everything about the actuary profession

What is an actuary?

An actuary is a person specializing in financial operations. To do this, he must master many procedures relating to mathematical sciences and computer tools.

To optimize the functioning of his group, he must imperatively model the costs of each intervention. In some countries, the actuary is responsible for risk management and contracting.

Until now, it has been a little-known service in France. However, it is a stable position that benefits from attractive remuneration. Apart from that, he holds a vital role in the general council meeting.

The course and training to follow to become an actuary?

Undertaking a career as an actuary requires very in-depth studies. You will need patience and motivation. After obtaining your bachelor’s degree, you must switch to a field where mathematics plays a crucial role (economics, management, and others).

After two years of studies (bac + 2), you can already apply for the position of the actuarial technician. You can also apply for internships to gain experience. In general, you must have a bac + 5 to use as an actuary in an organization.

You can take a training course to become an actuary with ESSEC, ISFA, ISUP, ENSAE, University of Strasbourg, EURIA, University of Paris Dauphine, Le Collège des Ingénieurs and Cnam . It is also possible to carry out an actuarial VAE . 

Training courses to become an actuary? 

To become an actuary, you must have a minimum bac +2 degree, such as DEUST actuarial science, DUT Statistics or legal careers, or even a BTS insurance.

The diplomas bac +5  obtained business school in the engineering school at the National Insurance School (ENASS) or university ( Masters in mathematics, statistics, probability, econometrics) are top-rated among employers.

How much are actuaries paid?

Know that the profession of actuary offers a handsome salary. A beginner can expect a pay greater than or equal to 3,200 euros gross per month. It is a position that provides significant career development. At the end of one year, you can expect a remuneration greater than or equal to 6,000 euros gross per month.

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How to become an actuary?

The actuary is a specialist in risk management; he generally practices in insurance companies and sometimes in the banking sector and the world of finance. If the profession is still unknown in France, the needs are real, and integration does without difficulty. Find out about the path to becoming an actuary.

The actuary (also called portfolio result analyst and actuarial researcher) is a sort of clairvoyant in finance. Indeed, its primary mission is to predict risks to set prices that will optimize its profitability.

Actuaries are the majority in the insurance sector, but they are also increasingly solicited by banks. Risk analysis occupies a privileged place among the various missions performed by the actuary. Before drafting a life insurance contract, for example, he will have to collect valuable information and analyze a certain amount of data to establish its cost.

In this specific case, actuaries frequently use mortality tables; they make it possible to carefully monitor life expectancy and the probabilities of death as a function of the age and sex of a population. Whatever his field of activity, the actuary must know how to seek information from specialists based on the files on which he is working: demographers, sociologists, health professionals, engineers, etc.

After analysis, the actuary will set pricing scales that will suit the various parties involved, with a permanent concern for financial profitability. Competitive intelligence will allow it always to have an eye on the market.

The qualities expected of recruiters to become an actuary

Loving statistics, the study of probability, and mathematics are required conditions to become an actuary and flourish in this profession. The love of numbers is not the only prerequisite for this position. It is also essential to have a multidisciplinary approach and be interested in law, economics, demography, and marketing. And of course finance.

Good command of office and computer tools is also necessary; actuaries may require using different types of software such as Excel and Access (and programming software such as SAS and R). Actuaries need to have good writing skills to write clear, concise documents that everyone can understand.

The actuarial profession is still minor subject to clichés, but you should not imagine a person working alone in his corner in front of his computer, his nose in his statistics. On the contrary, the actuary regularly performs as a team and contacts different departments. Likewise, it must communicate its actuarial analysis to diverse audiences. The actuary position can have an international dimension, so it recommends that you master English to maximize your recruitment chances.

Many actuaries evolve during their careers; after several years of experience, they can obtain positions of greater responsibility such as actuarial manager, technical director, and even general manager.

Education and Training

It is advisable to have a strong appetite for mathematics before embarking on training to become an actuary. From bac +2, there are diploma courses in banking or insurance sector such as the BTS Insurance and the BTS Banking. However, these courses instead focus on the commercial side and customer relationship. It should also note that recruiters favor candidates with a bac + 5 level in a field directly concerned by the actuary profession (or who already have some experience in data analysis)

Masters that can lead to the profession of actuary:

  • Master in Applied Mathematics
  • Master Statistics
  • Computer science master
  • Master in economics
  • The Master of Law
  • Master in finance

Apart from engineering schools, which are always a wise choice to become an actuary, it is also necessary to point out the existence of the Master Actuarial, undoubtedly the most relevant to exercise this position. It will allow you to develop technical skills such as data mining, analysis, risk management, and human skills such as autonomy and teamwork.

How to become an actuary
How to become an actuary

After obtaining one of these diploma courses, you can join one of the eight courses recognized by the institution of actuaries:

  • The College of Engineers
  • ESSEC (Higher School of Economic and Commercial Sciences)
  • ENSAE (National School of Statistics and Economic Administration)
  • EURIA (Euro actuarial institute)
  • ISFA (Institute of Financial Science and Insurance)
  • ISUP (Sorbonne-University Institute of Statistics)
  • Paris-Dauphine University
  • The University of Strasbourg

How to become an actuary

To become an actuary, you must have a Bac + 5 level diploma, preferably in economics, mathematics, or the law (school diploma or professional Master’s).

A little-known profession, the actuary, is assigned to the head office of an insurance company, responsible for designing insurance contracts. It requires careful planning.

  • Before preparing a contract, he compiles all the information he needs from the marketing department, lawyers, and field. It also considers the risks of the financial markets and the prospects for development in the years to come. To do this, he works with a team of study managers.
  • He uses probability and statistical software, which allows him to formulate hypotheses and collect quantified data in the event of a risk of fire, flood, etc.
  • Depending on the results obtained, it decides on the rules and pricing scales for each type of risk and formulates each contract clause.
  • He advises and supervises the insurers responsible for marketing the contract to clients. In this case, he may have to travel anywhere in France to meet these professionals.
  • He can also modify existing contracts.
  • It follows the profits of the company. If he observes that a contract is not economically profitable, he takes it up and adapts it.

Namely: more and more actuaries are recruited by banks or in finance, where they will be responsible for their expertise. They can, for example, set the number of funds needed to keep the bank or business safe from default.

Synonyms of the profession

portfolio result analyst

Becoming an Actuary: Qualifications required.

The profession requires specialized mathematics and statistics and law, taxation, economics, management, and finance skills. He also masters computer tools. The actuary must be systematic and very rigorous: the drafting of the contract must not leave room for the slightest void or particular case. A spirit of synthesis and a taste for analysis and abstraction are recommended. A sense of teamwork is also essential, the actuary needing efficient collaborators capable of providing precise information. He must know how to negotiate and convince. Finally, fluency in English is necessary, as the actuary’s duties may extend internationally.

Actuary: career / possibility of development:

Development within the profession is rapid: after five years of experience, it is possible to access management positions (actuarial manager, head of the studies and forecasting department, head of asset-liability management, etc.). The most motivated may have the chance to climb the ladder to the position of CEO (about 15% of actuaries succeed).

Monthly gross salary of a beginner: € 3,100

Becoming an Actuary: training required.

To become an actuary, you must have a Bac + 5 level diploma, preferably in economics, mathematics, or the law (school diploma or professional Master’s). You will then have to prepare for the Actuary Diploma in one of the seven establishments recognized by the Institute of Actuaries (Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Brest).

Job situation/context to become an Actuary

The majority of job offers are in Île-de-France. Few actuaries practice (around 2000 in France), but the profession, prevalent in Anglo-Saxon countries, are increasingly sought after by companies to increase the profitability of the insurance products they propose.

Here are the steps you need to take in order to become an actuary.

  1. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree.
  2. Pass Your First 2 Exams.
  3. Improve Your Technical Skills.
  4. Get an Actuarial Internship.
  5. Get Your First Entry-Level Actuarial Position.
  6. Attain Associateship.
  7. Attain Fellowship.
  8. Move Up to a Management Position.


To become an actuary, you need to pass all the actuarial exams (15 of them!) and have 3 years of practical work experience. Passing exams will require students to have application skills as just mugging up the study material will not make them pass exams (certainly not some of the higher level exams).

How to become an actuary

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