How to become an Actuary in South Africa
If maths, statistics and finance is what sets your senses on edge, then becoming an Actuary is for you. Actuaries combine mathematical skills, financial theory and statistics in order to study uncertain future events concerning pension programmes and insurance.
As an Actuary, you will be required to analyse the financial consequences of risks. In short, you will be required to evaluate the likelihood of certain events as they impact (a pension fund for example), design ways in which you can reduce this impact and decrease the impact of adverse events that do actually occur.
You will essentially be controlling risk and, in order to do so, you will need a strong business knowledge, superior analytical skills and understand human behaviour.
Becoming an Actuary
In order to apply for Actuarial jobs, you will first need a degree. There are a number of Universities in South Africa with Statistics and Actuarial Science Departments, including the University of Stellenbosch, the University of the Free State, the University of Pretoria and UNISA.
After the successful completion of your studies – which includes a degree and postgraduate degree – you will also be required to complete examinations with the necessary professional Actuary bodies, like the Actuarial Society of South Africa.
As a student, you will need to complete the subjects prescribed in the syllabus of the Actuarial Society – these subjects can be completed at accredited Universities across South Africa. You will also undergo an assessment of the final Fellowship Stage of your qualification – this is conducted by the Board of Examiners at the Actuarial Society.
Apart from this, you will also be required to complete periods of experimental learning, also known as Work-Based Skills (WBS) and attend a professionalism course in order to qualify for Actuarial science jobs. Also know that learning will be a journey spanning across your entire career, which will be facilitated by systems of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
If you enter a more financial role, you might also be required to comply with the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Service (FAIS) Act. This entails both a qualification as well as regulatory exams.
In order to gain admission to Actuarial Science studies, you will need an A in Mathematics Higher Grade as well as a C in English (first language) Higher Grade.
Completing your actuarial studies will take some time. After your four year degree, there is a minimum of two more years of part-time study. The average time taken after your degree to qualify is around five years.
Actuarial Science Jobs
Making it through your studies is quite an achievement on its own and the pay-off is even better. Actuarial science graduates are well sought after in the Financial Services industries and, the areas in which these skills are needed, are expanding.
Starting off with an internship or fellowship, you can quickly work your way up to becoming a well-educated and experienced Actuary.
Actuarial jobs are available both in South Africa as well as abroad. According to PayScale, an Actuary on average earns over R 600,000.00 a year. The more experience you have in the field, the higher your income prospects.
Actuarial jobs can be found in a number of industries, including with companies employing actuaries such as Consulting Firms, Insurance companies, Investment Houses, Banks, Software Developers and Vendors, and Government Insurance Departments, to name but a few.