Actuarial credentialing and exams
The actuarial credentialing and exam process usually requires passing a rigorous series of professional examinations, most often taking several years in total, before one can become recognized as a credentialed actuary. In some countries, such as Denmark, most study takes place in a university setting. In others, such as the U.S., most study takes place during employment through a series of examinations. In the UK, and countries based on its process, there is a hybrid university-exam structure.
The education system in Australia is divided into three components: an exam-based curriculum; a professionalism course; and work experience ( IAA-Ed 2021). The system is governed by the Institute of Actuaries of Australia ( IAA-About 2021).
The exam-based curriculum is in three parts. Part I relies on exemptions from an accredited under-graduate degree from either Monash University, Macquarie University, University of New South Wales, University of Melbourne, Australian National University or Curtin University ( IAA-Part I 2006). The courses cover subjects including finance, financial mathematics, economics, contingencies, demography, models, probability and statistics. Students may also gain exemptions by passing the exams of the Institute of Actuaries in London ( IAA-Part I 2006). Part II is the Actuarial control cycle and is also offered by each of the universities above ( IAA-Part II 2006). Part III consists of four half-year courses of which two are compulsory and the other two allow specialization ( IAA-Part III 2006).
To become an Associate, one needs to complete Part I and Part II of the accreditation process, perform 3 years of recognized work experience, and complete a professionalism course ( IAA-Ed 2021). To become a Fellow, candidates must complete Part I, II, III, and take a professionalism course. Work experience is not required, however, as the Institute deems that those who have successfully completed Part III have shown enough level of professionalism ( IAA-Ed 2021).
The Actuarial Society of Bangladesh is the unique Professional Body of Actuaries in Bangladesh. The Actuarial Society of Bangladesh follows the curriculum of The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, United Kingdom. Some universities, including the University of Rajshahi and Jahangirnagar University, provide Actuarial Science courses. Since 2015, the University of Dhaka and East West University offer master's degrees in Actuarial Science.[ citation needed]
The Canadian Institute of Actuaries (the CIA) recognizes fellows of both the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuary Society, provided that they have specialized study in Canadian actuarial practice. For fellows of the SOA, this is fulfilled by taking the CIA’s Practice Education Course (PEC). For fellows of the Casualty Actuarial Society, this is fulfilled by taking the nation-specific Exam 6-Canada, instead of Exam 6-United States ( CAS 2011b). Further, the CIA requires three years of actuarial practice within the previous decade, and 18 months of Canadian actuarial practice within the last three years, to become a fellow ( CIA 2004). The CIA offers both fellowship and associate designations.[ citation needed]
In Denmark it normally takes five years of study at the University of Copenhagen to become an actuary with no professional experience requirement. There is a focus on statistics and probability theory, and a requirement for a master's thesis ( Norberg 1990). By Danish law, responsibility for the practice of any life insurance business must be taken by a formally acknowledged and approved actuary. Approval as a formally responsible actuary requires three to five years of professional experience.( Haastrup & Nielsen 2007)
In Greece the only specialized school of actuaries are the Department of Statistics and Insurance Science of the University of Piraeus and the Statistics and Actuary-Finance Mathematics of the University of the Aegean, in Samos. The duration of studies is four years, with a practice period included, and the certificate given is a bachelor's degree. The Diploma of Actuary is given by the Actuaries Union of Greece, after successful exams within the union. Other schools that offer actuarial directions can be found throughout the rest departments of Statistics in the various universities of the country, most notably that of the Athens University of Economics and Business (OPA/ASOEE), which is also the top economic university of Greece.[ citation needed]
The Actuarial Society of India (now converted into Institute of Actuaries of India) offers both associate-ship and fellowship classes of membership. However, prospective candidates must be admitted to the society as students before they achieve associate-ship or fellowship. The exam sequence is similar to the British model, with Core and Specialty technical and application exams. The exams are conducted twice a year during the months of May–June and October–November ( ASI 2006). Starting from January 2012, the institute has started conducting entrance exam. Only those applicants who clear the entrance test can appear for the Core Technical papers.
Italian actuaries also receive their training through university plus a single examination given by the state (Esame di Stato). The studies usually take a total of five years to complete, three (Triennale) plus two (Magistrale), because students need to pass at least 30 exams (the exact number depends on the university and curriculum), many with both written and oral components on actuarial and economic topics. After university, to become qualified to sign statements of actuarial opinion, students must pass the Esame di Stato, which is offered twice a year in Rome and Trieste; the Esame di Stato consists of two written sections, a practical portion, and an oral exam. The association of qualified actuaries is called "Ordine degli Attuari" ("Order of Actuaries").[ citation needed]
Unlike in the United States, in Mexico actuarial training consists of a full four or five-year licenciatura (bachelor) degree course. Only a few universities in the country offer the degree; some of them are the National Autonomous University of Mexico ( UNAM), Autonomous University of Yucatán ( UADY), Universidad de las Americas Puebla ( UDLAP), Universidad Anahuac, Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico ( ITAM), Autonomous University of Guadalajara ( UAG), Autonomous University of Nuevo León ( UANL), and the Ibero-American University ( Universidad Iberoamericana).[ citation needed]
In Norway the education to become an actuary takes five years. The education usually consists of a bachelor's degree (three years) and a master's degree (two years). The bachelor's degree needs to contain a specific number of courses in mathematics and statistics. The master's degree usually consists of one year of courses and one year writing a master's degree about a topic related to the actuarial profession. The University of Bergen and The University of Oslo offer the education to become an actuary in Norway ( University of Bergen 2011). To become an international qualified actuary, a person with a Norwegian actuarial education must also take two courses in economics (macroeconomics and accounting) and a course in ethics. The ethics course, which lasts a day, is offered by the Norwegian Society of Actuaries ( Norwegian Society of Actuaries 2011).
In Portugal the only school that offers a degree in actuarial science is Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão (ISEG) at the University of Lisbon, which offers a two-year master's degree, fully integrated into the Bologna regimen. The programme is, since 2017/18, accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK, leading to exemptions based on the student overall performance during the course, or leading to exemptions from individual exams based on the student's performance in certain modules of the Masters.[ citation needed]
Actuaries in South Africa are served by the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA). Until recently[ when?] the requirement to qualify as an actuary in South Africa was to pass the exams hosted by the UK bodies. Starting in 2010, a South African actuarial qualification hosted by ASSA has replaced this arrangement. Key changes include exam syllabuses based on South African-specific content. The UK actuarial professional bodies, however, still support qualification through the UK. Students may receive exemption from part of the examinations for qualification from approved universities. The South African qualification does have mutual recognition with many of the international actuarial bodies as well as approval of the syllabus from the International Actuarial Association.
One may obtain the Chartered Enterprise Risk Actuary (CERA) designation through the ASSA.
Actuarial training in Sweden takes place at Stockholm University. The five-year master's program (for those with no previous university-level knowledge in mathematics, or without a bachelor's degree in mathematics) covers the subjects mathematics, mathematical statistics, insurance mathematics, financial mathematics, insurance law and insurance economics. The program operates under the Division of Mathematical Statistics ( Stockholm University 2006). For those with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, statistics or with a master's degree in mathematics, a two-year full-time master's degree Aktuarieprogrammet has been offered since 2002 at Stockholm University, which has a long history of research on insurance mathematics.
Qualification in Turkey consists of a series of exams administered by an exam board made up of representatives of the Actuarial Society of Turkey, the government and universities. The exams are split into 3 levels: first level (essentials of insurance and economy, mathematics, statistics and probability, financial mathematics); second level (accounting and financial reporting, insurance mathematics (life and non-life), risk analysis, actuarial modeling); and third level (investment and risk management, non-life insurance, life insurance, health insurance, pension systems). After completing the first level exams, a candidate becomes an "actuarial trainee", after the second level an "assistant actuary", and after the third level and 3 years of related work experience the candidate becomes an "actuary".[ citation needed]
Qualification in the United Kingdom and Ireland consists of a combination of exams and courses provided by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. The exams may only be taken upon having officially joined the body,  unlike many other countries where exams may be taken earlier. Most trainee actuaries study while working for an actuarial employer using resources provided by ActEd (The Actuarial Education Company, a subsidiary of BPP Actuarial Education Ltd.), which is contracted to provide actuarial tuition for students on behalf of Institute and Faculty Education Ltd (IFE), a subsidiary of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. 
However, a candidate may offer proof of having previously covered topics (at a high enough standard, usually while at university) to be exempt from taking certain subjects. 
The exams themselves are split into four sections:  Core Principles (CP), Core Practices (CP), Specialists Principles (SP), and Specialist Advance (SA). For students who joined the Profession after June 2004, a further requirement that the student carry out a "Work-based skills" exercise has been brought into effect. This involves the student submitting a series of essays to the Profession detailing the work that he or she has performed. In addition to exams, essays and courses, it is required that the candidate have at least three years' experience of actuarial work under supervision of a recognized actuary to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries (FIA) or of the Faculty of Actuaries (FFA) ( Institute and Faculty of Actuaries 2011a).
Actuaries can also gain partial credit towards Fellowship of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries by following an actuarial science degree at an accredited university. At the undergraduate level the only locally accredited programmes are currently at the University of Manchester, University College Dublin, Queen's University Belfast, Heriot-Watt University, University of Edinburgh, the London School of Economics, University of Southampton, City University, London, University of Leicester and the University of Kent. Full-time accredited master's programmes are provided only by the University of Kent, Heriot-Watt University, University of Leicester and City University; part-time accredited master's degrees are offered by Imperial College London and the University of Leicester. Actuarial programmes that offer the possibility of exemption from individual professional exams are also available at City University, London, Heriot-Watt University, the London School of Economics, the University of Southampton, Swansea University, the University of Kent and the University of Warwick. In Ireland exemptions are offered by National University of Ireland, Galway, Dublin City University, University College Cork. Some South African universities are also accredited by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. These universities include the University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of the Free State and the University of the Witwatersrand. ISEG in Lisbon, Portugal, offers the possibility of exemption from some professional exams of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.[ citation needed]
Note that the UK Profession is currently introducing the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification to "provide those working in financial and actuarial roles at a technical level around the world with valuable skills and a well respected qualification". 
In the U.S., for life, health, and pension actuaries, exams are given by the Society of Actuaries, while for property-casualty actuaries the exams are administered by the Casualty Actuarial Society. The Society of Actuaries’ requirements for Associateship include passing five preliminary examinations, demonstrating educational experience in economics, corporate finance, and applied statistics—called validation by educational experience (VEE), completing an eight-module self-learning series, and taking a course on professionalism ( SOA 2012a). For Fellowship, three other modules, three or four exams depending on specialty track, and a special fellowship admission course is added ( SOA 2012c). The Casualty Actuarial Society requires the successful completion of seven examinations, two modules, and economics and corporate finance VEEs for Associateship and three additional exams for Fellowship. In addition to these requirements, casualty actuarial candidates must also complete professionalism education and be recommended for membership by existing members ( CAS 2011a). One may become a Chartered (or Certified) Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) through either the SOA or the CAS.[ citation needed]
To sign certain statements of actuarial opinion, however, American actuaries must be members of the American Academy of Actuaries. Academy membership requirements include membership in one of the recognized actuarial societies, at least three years of full-time equivalent experience in responsible actuarial work, and either residency in the United States for at least three years or a non-resident or new resident who meets certain requirements ( AAA 2010). Continuing education is required after certification for all actuaries who sign statements of actuarial opinion ( AAA 2008).
In the pension area, American actuaries must pass three examinations to become an Enrolled Actuary. Some pension-related filings to the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation require the signature of an Enrolled Actuary. Many Enrolled Actuaries belong to the Conference of Consulting Actuaries or the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries.[ citation needed]
In 2009, the Society of Actuaries began a high-level accreditation system for universities, recognizing the best actuarial schools as Centers of Actuarial Excellence. There are two sets of criteria that must be met: A Criteria and B Criteria. Additionally, a site visit must be performed by a team of CAE committee members who evaluate the University and conduct interviews with students and faculty. The designation is retained for five years and if a criterion is not met, then the University must provide a plan for how they will address the problem within a reasonable time frame.[ citation needed]
Dependent on which society a student chooses to pursue, there are anywhere from six to seven preliminary exams. Most of the exams are multiple choice and administered on computers at Prometric testing centers. Candidates are allowed to use a calculator from an approved list.  The exams are timed and last between three and four hours. Some tests provide instant feedback as to whether or not a candidate has passed that particular exam (see table below). All test scores (on a 0-10 scale with 6 or higher passing) are posted six to eight weeks after the test. However, due to the way the test is scaled, the scores can range from 0-10, but there are also situations where the highest grade for a test is a 9 even if every single question was answered correctly.[ citation needed]
Through the end of 2013, four of the preliminary exams (all but MLC) were jointly sponsored by CAS and SOA. In late 2012, SOA announced its intention to end joint sponsorship beginning with tests administered in January 2014. CAS has not announced plans to develop alternative forms of the jointly sponsored exams; however, it accepts SOA exams for CAS credit. In 2018, the SOA revamped its preliminary exams. This affected the joint sponsorship; as of June 2018 only three preliminary exams are jointly sponsored by both societies.[ citation needed]
SOA administers exam LTAM (previously MLC), which covers life contingencies topics. Starting in May 2014, MLC includes both multiple choice and open-response questions. SOA made this change because, in their view, strict multiple-choice questions are not sufficient or adequate to test whether candidates are familiar and fluent in the material. The test is four hours long, allows calculators, and is administered via a paper-and-pencil format. Multiple-choice questions account for 40% of the exam, and open-response questions account for 60% of the exam. Candidates may freely move between the two sections. The two sections are graded separately. However, since the multiple-choice questions are easier, only candidates who have answered a certain percentage of the multiple-choice questions correctly have their written answers graded.[ citation needed]
CAS develops exam S as a full alternative to SOA's exam MLC. Exam S covers many topics within statistics, survival models, and stochastic processes. Between the beginning of 2014 and the end of 2015, CAS offered two interim exams: exam LC, covering many life contingencies topics, and exam ST, covering statistical and stochastic methods. Candidates who passed 3L or MLC before 2014 are exempt from taking LC and ST. Additionally, candidates passing exam LC, exam ST, and the Statistics VEE by August 2016 are exempt from taking exam S.[ citation needed]
|SOA exam||CAS exam||Exam title||Exam topics||Format||Tests per year||Pass/fail estimate|
|P||1||Probability||Law of total probability, Bayes' theorem, basic counting, common discrete and continuous distributions, univariate and multivariate distributions, order statistics, transformation of distributions, conditional expectation, variance and covariance, basic knowledge of insurance and risk management||Computer||6||Yes|
|FM||2||Financial Mathematics||Basic interest theory, annuities, bonds, loans, cash flows, portfolios, determinants of interest rates, interest rate swaps, spot rates, forward rates and immunization||Computer||6||Yes|
|IFM||3F||Investment and Financial Markets||Interest rate models, derivatives, hedging, options, capital structure, debt and equity financing, rational valuation of derivative securities, and risk management techniques||Computer||3||Yes|
|LTAM||--||Long-Term Actuarial Mathematics||Survival models, Markov chain models, life insurances and annuities, pension mathematics, and mortality improvement||Paper and pencil||2||No|
|STAM||--||Short-Term Actuarial Mathematics||Severity models, frequency models, aggregate models, construction of empirical models, construction and selection of parametric models, estimating failure time and loss, determining the acceptability of a fitted model, credibility, simulation||Computer||3||Yes|
|PA||--||Predictive Analytics||Exploratory Data Analysis, General Linear Model's (GLM), and Communication of Results using R||Computer||2||No|
|SRM||--||Statistics for Risk Modeling||Basics of Statistical Learning, Linear Models, Time Series Models, Principal Components Analysis, Decision Trees, and Cluster Analysis||Computer||3||No|
|--||MAS-I||Statistics and probabilistic models||Stochastic processes, survival models (including limited life contingencies concepts), statistics, general linear models (including ordinary least squares) and time series ||Paper and pencil||2||No|
|--||MAS-II||Modern Actuarial Statistics II||Introduction to Credibility, Linear Mixed Models, Bayesian Analysis and Markov Chain Monte Carlo, and Statistical Learning||Paper and pencil||2||No|
Candidates for CAS and SOA membership must pass standardized tests in introductory economics and corporate finance. Candidates for SOA membership must pass an additional standardized test in applied statistics. Economics has two components: macroeconomics and microeconomics. Applied statistics has two components: regression and time series. Instead of passing exams, candidates may earn credit by passing an approved college class with a B- or better grade or by completing an approved correspondence class.[ citation needed]
To earn associate membership (ACAS), a candidate must pass the preliminary exams, VEE, two online modules, exam five, and exam six. For an associate to become a fellow (FCAS), exams seven through nine must be passed. The exams are administered on paper-and-pencil. Exam questions generally require an open answer; however, multiple-choice questions are allowed, too. Exam six comes in two versions: one for candidates in the United States and one for candidates in Canada.[ citation needed]
|CAS exam||Subject matter||Test window |
|Exam 5||Basic techniques for ratemaking and estimating claim liabilities||Late April, Late October|
|Exam 6||Nation-specific examination: Regulation and financial reporting||Late April, Late October|
|Exam 7||Estimation of policy liabilities, insurance company valuation, and enterprise risk management||Late April|
|Exam 8||Advanced ratemaking||Late October|
|Exam 9||Financial risk and rate of return||Late April|
The two modules that must be completed to become an associate are...
|Module 1||Risk management and insurance operations|
|Module 2||Insurance accounting, coverage analysis, insurance law, and insurance regulation|
The exam schedule above started in 2011. Candidates who passed exams offered before 2011 are granted credit according to the following schedule. To earn credit for new exam five, a candidate must pass old exam five and old exam six. Candidates who passed one of old exam five and old exam six must pass a special exam covering the remaining material on new exam five.
|Old Exam||Conversion credit|
|Old Exam 5||Half of New Exam 5 on Basic Ratemaking plus Module 1 (Risk Management and Insurance Operations)|
|Old Exam 6||Half of New Exam 5 on Basic Reserving plus New Exam 7|
|Old Exam 7||New Exam 6 plus Module 2 (Insurance Accounting, Coverage Analysis, Insurance Law, and Insurance Regulation)|
|Old Exam 8||New Exam 9|
|Old Exam 9||New Exam 8|
After passing the preliminary exams, SOA candidates complete the Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice e-learning course and the Associateship Professionalism Course. FAP contains eight learning modules and 1 final assessment. APC is held virtually. This completes the requirements for associate membership (ASA).[ citation needed]
Associates select one of six areas of competence for further training. Each area has three or four exams and three learning modules. Exam one for "Retirement Benefits" has alternative requirements specific to Canada and the United States. For all tracks other than "Corporate Finance and Enterprise Risk Management," a candidate may pass the "Enterprise Risk Management" exam as a substitute for exam three. After completing the exams and modules, candidates must pass the "Decision Making and Communication Module" and the "Fellowship Admissions Course" before earning promotion to fellow (FSA).[ citation needed]
|Type||General Insurance||Corporate Finance and Enterprise Risk Management||Quantitative Finance and Investment||Individual Life and Annuities||Retirement Benefits||Group and Health|
|Exam 1||Introduction to General Insurance||Strategic Decision Making||Quantitative Finance and Investment Core||Life Pricing||Funding and Regulation (Canada) or Enrolled Actuaries Series (US)||Group and Health Core|
|Exam 2||Introduction to Ratemaking and Reserving||Corporate Finance Foundations||Quantitative Finance and Investment Advanced||Life Finance and Valuation||Design and Accounting Exam||Group and Health Advanced|
|Exam 3||Advanced Topics in General Insurance||Enterprise Risk Management||Investment Risk Management||Life Risk Management||Retirement Plan Investment and Risk Management||Group and Health Specialty|
|Exam 4||Financial and Regulatory Environment|
|Module 1||Enterprise Risk Management||Enterprise Risk Management||Enterprise Risk Management||Enterprise Risk Management||Enterprise Risk Management||Enterprise Risk Management or Health Foundations|
|Module 2||Financial Economics||Financial Reporting||Financial Reporting||Financial Economics||Financial Economics||Financial Economics|
|Module 3||Applications of Statistical Techniques||Advanced Topics in Corporate Finance||Financial Modeling||Regulation & Taxation||Social Insurance||Pricing, Reserving & Forecasting|
Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) is a global designation awarded by more than ten international actuarial bodies, including the CAS and SOA. Each body designs its own syllabus and requirements to award the designation, subject to approval by the international CERA body.[ citation needed]
CAS candidates must complete all of the requirements to become a FCAS except for exam eight. They must also complete exam ST9, Enterprise Risk Management Specialist Technical, administered by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (U.K.) and the Enterprise Risk Management and Modeling Seminar for CERA Qualification.[ citation needed]
SOA candidates must complete all of the preliminary exams except for exam MLC. Candidates must also pass VEE Economics, VEE Corporate Finance, Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice, the Enterprise Risk Management exam, the Enterprise Risk Management module, and the Associateship Professionalism Course.[ citation needed]
In the US the term "Enrolled Actuary" is applied to an individual who has taken certain exams sponsored by the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries relating to pension plans. Enrollment in the Joint Board is a requirement for SOA Retirement Fellows working in the US.[ citation needed]
The American equivalent of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries is the American Academy of Actuaries (AAA).[ citation needed]
Many other countries pattern their requirements after the larger societies of the US or UK. In general, the websites of these organizations are often the easiest source for finding out about membership requirements and resources.[ citation needed]
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