The actuarial profession is an internationally recognised profession where members work in areas of life insurance, general insurance, global pensions, investment advice and many other aspects of financial projections and advice. Many actuaries work for large companies operating in one or more of these areas and some actuaries work as independent consultants or in small groups providing fee for service advice on relevant areas.
In Australia an actuary normally refers to an Associate or a Fellow of the Actuaries Institute of Australia. In the UK an actuary normally refers to an Associate of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries or a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. In the USA an actuary normally refers to an Associate/Fellow of the Society of Actuaries or an Associate/Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society. There are actuarial bodies in many other countries which have various membership requirements. Generally once qualified as an actuary in any one of the major bodies, one is fairly universally recognised to practice as an actuary around the World - though certain particular requirements may apply if one moves to a new country, before assuming full professional responsibilities.
The actuarial Institutes or Societies in each of Australia, UK and USA provide a system of examinations to enable people to qualify as Associates or Fellows by examination. In some cases there are relevant work experience requirements to fulfil.
To become a qualified actuary in Australia, you must complete Part I, Part II and Part III of the professional examinations. Part I can be completed at Monash University as part of the Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Actuarial studies or as part of the Bachelor of Commerce Specialist with a specialisation in Actuarial sciences. Part II can be completed by continuing on to the honours year at Monash.
The examination system of the Actuaries Institute has three parts with changes transitioning from 2019 to 2023:
Foundation Program (formerly Part I) is “outsourced” in the sense that students can achieve “Exemption” from examinations by completing relevant units (with suitably good results) at Accredited Universities (including Monash University). Students can join the Actuaries Institute as a student member and enrol to sit a subject by correspondence. Exams are in April and September/October each year. A University student can do this as a way of making up for not achieving exemption grades in the University units, either whilst they are still at University or after their course.
Associateship Program (formerly Part II) is partly “outsourced” in the sense that students can achieve “Exemption” from part of the syllabus by completing relevant units (with suitably good results) at Accredited Universities (including Monash University). The remaining part of the syllabus requires students to study by correspondence and sit examinations set and marked by professional actuaries.
Fellowship Program (formerly Part III) requires students to study by correspondence and sit examinations set and marked by professional actuaries. Exam choices will cover – life insurance, retirement, general and health insurance, data analytics, enterprise risk management, investment and banking.
An Associate of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia is entitled to the designation ‘actuary’ and is a Fully Qualified Actuary (FQA) according to the standards of the International Actuarial Association.
Admission as an Associate is changing at the end of 2019 and includes satisfactory completion of:
Completion of, or exemptions achieved in, both Foundation and Associateship programs
A period of Practical Experience Requirement
A recognised Professionalism Course
For an actuary who is already an Associate, Fellowship of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia (FIAA) requires completion of the Fellowship Program, undertaken through the Institute. Further details may be found at Actuaries Institute.
Students progressing from Part I to Part II and III examinations will find the later exams will have an emphasis on more qualitative skills, developing skills for the profession and being able to apply theory to more 'real-world' situations. An overview of the differences can be found in this PowerPoint.
Successful completion of the third year units in the actuarial program requires significant competence in mathematics. As well as a good level of mathematics at school it is highly advantageous if a student completes two or more university-level mathematical units.
Exemption from Institute subjects is based on a recommendation from the Director of Monash Actuarial Program that the student has met in relevant units a standard equivalent to a pass level in the Institute of Actuaries (UK) examinations. The required units for each CT subject and marks for exemption are listed on our website.