1st year (and 2nd year of 4 year degree)
- Some actuarial firms (or firms with Actuarial divisions) offer insight programmes or Spring Weeks for 1st year students (e.g. Towers Watson schedules insight days throughout the Easter Holidays). These can give you a feel for what the job involves, but involve little (if any) real responsibility.
Penultimate year & finalists
- Many firms offer longer internships (usually a couple of months during the summer break) to penultimate year and final year students.
- These usually involve you undertaking real work whilst sitting in one (or more) divisions. You may also be expected to undertake additional assessments, including a final interview towards the end.
- If you receive a job offer, you will then have to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by a two year training contract before you become a qualified solicitor. Firms typically fund the LPC and give you a grant whilst you are studying. You will be paid a salary whilst undertaking the training contract.
- You cannot practice as an actuary without qualifying. This is a very long and expensive process. If you are accepted onto a grad scheme, your company will usually fund your exams. These exams are renowned as being some of the hardest exams out there so failures are more common than you think. Some firms also let you have a day off a week, assign you a study mentor, buy you all your materials, pay for training courses and provide practical training in the office (Towers Watson does all this for instance). Smaller firms do not tend to offer such generous packages however.
- You can always sit the exams without the help of a firm (directly with the Actuarial Institute), but this would be very difficult and expensive. In addition, if you want to qualify as a fellow you will need 2 years work experience.
- People tend to take at least 3 years to qualify as an actuary (depending how many exam exemptions you receive and whether you fail an of your exams. You sit exams in Spring and Autumn every year and it is up to you how many you sit each time (people tend to sit 3 in the first sitting, then 2 at each subsequent sitting). There are 15 exams in total that you must pass to become an actuary.