If you’re thinking about writing an actuary exam soon, you’re probably curious about how much it’ll cost to take the exams.
How much do actuary exams cost? The first 2 exams are $250 USD. Costs gradually increase to $1,125 USD as the exams get more and more advanced. Study material costs can range from $0 to $1,500+ depending on the exam and your choice of materials.
Since you’re probably just starting out on your journey to becoming an actuary, you’re probably most interested in the costs that you’ll have to cover in order to pass the first few exams. So, that’s what I’ll be spending the most amount of time on here.
Fortunately, these exam costs are going to be spread out over many years (usually 7 – 10 years for most people). And when you do get your first actuarial position your employer will probably pay for all your exam fees and study materials. Until then, you’ll have to cover the costs yourself.
What costs will you need to pay for actuarial exams?
There are two primary things that you’re going to need to pay for. First is the exam fee and second is your study materials.
The exam fee is a payment made to the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in order to administer your exam. It’s used to help fund the costs involved with exam centers, exam grading, and running the organization. This is a mandatory fee that you must pay in order to take the exam.
There is a listing of all the SOA exam fees here for each of the exams. However, I’ll be talking about them more down below too.
The study materials that you’ll need for your exam will teach you all the topics that you need to know. You can purchase a study manual or an online seminar for your exam. Study materials are optional, but highly recommended.
Study manuals are books specifically designed for each exam. They tend to be the most affordable option. Online seminars, on the other hand, include video lessons specifically tailored to the exam and tend to be more expensive, especially if you’re not a student.
In addition to the study materials mentioned above, some people also choose to join the Study Strategy Program to get step-by-step guidance on how to pass their first actuarial exam. This is optional, but if you’re feeling unsure on exactly how to go about preparing for your exam it will be extremely helpful for you.
Costs for Your First Actuarial Exam
Most people choose to take Exam P or Exam FM first because they are the easiest exams and they’re the first ones recommended by the SOA. If you’re not sure which one you should write first, check out this post to help you decide.
Exam P is about probability concepts and Exam FM covers financial mathematics concepts, such as bonds, loans and interest.
All costs mentioned below are as of June 2023.
Exam P Costs
The SOA exam fee for Exam P is $250 USD for the computer based exam (which is what most people do). These costs are unavoidable and you’ll have to pay the fee each time you attempt the exam.
The cost of study materials is variable.
As I mentioned above, a study manual is typically the most affordable option. Sometimes you’re able to purchase these used for about $0 to $50 depending on how old it is. A new manual (my study manual recommendations are here) will be about $100 USD to $150 USD depending on the subscription length and if you want an electronic version or a physical copy.
Online seminars are more expensive (again, my recommendations are here). A 180-day subscription to Coaching Actuaries (ADAPT + Learn) Bundle that I recommend is about $400 for non-students, and about $200 for students. The alternative, TIA, is about $500 for non-students and $200 for students.
To summarize, your Exam P costs are approximately:
Exam Fee (required) – $250 USD per attempt.
Study Materials – $100 to $500 USD.
Exam FM Costs
Just like for Exam P, the exam fee for Exam FM is $250 USD for the computer based exam. Again, these costs are unavoidable and you’ll have to pay the fee each time you attempt the exam.
Again, costs for study materials are quite variable depending on which option you decide on. You can go here to read about my recommendations.
Study manuals can be purchased used for about $0 to $150 USD. However, a new version is recommended to ensure that it is up-to-date with the syllabus. A new manual will cost between $130 USD and $160 depending on subscription length and whether you purchase an electronic version of a physical copy.
Online seminars are quite a bit more expensive. Both the TIA and Coaching Actuaries (ADAPT + Learn) Bundle are approximately $500 USD for non-students. The TIA seminar is $200 USD for students, whereas the Coaching Actuaries (ADAPT + Learn) Bundle is about $250 USD.
To summarize again, your Exam FM costs are approximately:
Exam Fee (required) – $225 USD per attempt.
Study Materials – $130 to $500 USD.
Costs for Future Actuarial exams
As exams start to get more and more advanced, the cost associated with them tends to increase. However, by the time you write your 4th exam you should aim to be hired in an actuarial position where your study materials and exam fees are paid for by the company.
Costs for Your 3rd+ Exams
The cost of your third exam will depend on whether you choose to specialize in life and health insurance (SOA route) or property and casualty insurance (CAS route). If you’re interested in learning the differences between the two, you can check out this post that compares SOA and CAS.
SOA exam fees tend to be more expensive than CAS exam fees. For your 3rd through 10th SOA exam, the fees range from $325 USD to $1,125 USD depending on the exam. For your 4th through 10th CAS exam, the fees range from $450 USD to $360 USD depending on the exam. Full-time students can get a discount though.
Study materials for these exams range anywhere from $200 USD to $1,500+ USD depending on the exam and whether you choose a study manual or online seminar. Some students choose to purchase more than one source to study from, especially for the upper level fellowship exams.
So to summarize, your 3rd+ exam costs are:
Exam Fee (required) – $325 to 1125 USD per attempt per exam.
Study Materials – $200 to $1,500+ USD per exam.
Costs for Online Courses
In order to become a credentialed actuary, there are also some online courses (or modules) that you’ll have to complete. The cost of these courses depends on whether you decide to go the SOA route or the CAS route.
Fortunately, these costs will probably be incurred after you get your first actuarial job so your employer will pay for them. These costs were last updated February 2019.
SOA Route (Life and Health Insurance)
Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) modules – $2,100 USD.
Associateship Professionalism Course (APC) – $575 USD.
FSA Modules (3 x $200) – $600 USD.
Fellowship Admission Course (FAC) – $2,650 USD.
Decision Making and Communication Module (DMAC) (invite only, cost unknown).
CAS Route (Property and Casualty Insurance)
Online courses (2 x $315) – $630 USD.
CAS Professionalism Course – $925 to $1,025 USD.
How much does it cost to become an actuary?
To summarize, the total cost of becoming an actuary will depend on several different factors.
It depends which study materials you use, how many times you fail exams along the way, whether you go the SOA or CAS route and when you get your first actuarial position.