How Long Does it Take to Become an Actuary?

by | May 3, 2017 | Discovery & Research, Pre-ASA |

If you’re considering becoming an actuary, you’ve certainly come to the right place.

Becoming an actuary is a huge commitment so if you decide do go down that path, you better be in it for the long haul.  It’s difficult, time consuming and requires a lot of focus.  But it’s far from impossible.

The process to becoming an actuary takes so long due to the examination process and the schooling required.

Exams

There are 8-9 exams that you need to pass to become an actuary, depending on your specialization. For most people these exams are very difficult. They require a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and the ability to do calculations quickly under exam pressure.

Very few people are able to pass all the exams without failing at least a couple of times, which significantly increases the amount of time it takes to achieving an actuarial designation.  Exams are only able to be written as certain times of the year.  The earlier exams (the preliminary exams), are available to write every two months.  For the later (more difficult) exams, the exams are only offered once every 6 months which doesn’t allow for quick progression.

Schooling

If you’re interested in becoming an actuary you’ll probably decide to get a post-secondary school degree in some field related to actuarial work.  This typically adds at least another 2-3 years onto the process. You can start writing actuarial exams while you are still in school too.

But don’t be concerned – You can still work in the actuarial field and make a great salary before you are a fully qualified actuary. Most aspiring actuaries have only written 2-4 exams before they start their first full time job.

Insurance companies usually want their actuarial employees to write exams and pass so they offer a great deal of support, such as paid study hours, paid text books and study materials, as well as exam pass bonuses and salary increases.

So how long does it all take?

To get through all the actuarial exams on average takes about 6 years for most people, although this varies widely depending on level of commitment, exam-taking frequency and family/employer support throughout the process.  Since most people don’t start writing exams until their 1st or 2nd year of school, it is very common for the whole process, schooling and exams, to take about 7 – 8 years.

Long time, eh?

But don’t get discouraged.  It IS possible to complete quicker than that.  With a lot of dedication, hard work and superb mathematical abilities, you could get done a few years sooner.  There are also people that take longer, and that’s fine too.  It’s a different journey for everyone!

Are you considering becoming an actuary?  Is the long time commitment making you question it?  Let me know in the comments! I’d gladly answer any questions you have as well.

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