After Passing Your First Actuarial Exams, Next?

After Passing Your First Actuarial Exams, Next?

Passing your first actuarial exam is a great achievement. The feeling can be overwhelming since actuarial exams are quite challenging. After completing the first exams, most candidates usually need help deciding what to do next. As tempting as it sounds, studying for the next exam is usually not advised. Certain things are more important, and a candidate should consider engaging in them. These things enable a candidate to raise their market value as an aspiring actuary. Here are some things that a candidate should consider doing after passing their first actuarial exams.

What Are Employers Looking For?

Employers are always looking for certain skills and qualities when hiring. Passing your first actuarial exams is good a good start. However, you always need to stand out from all the other candidates applying for the same actuarial positions. Below are some of the skills that can make you an ideal candidate:

  1. Have technical skills.
  2. Have a good amount of relevant work experience.

Technical Skills

Technology is becoming increasingly important in the actuarial profession. A candidate should have a strong knowledge of the tools of trade to obtain a position and succeed in their job. The majority of actuarial positions require candidates to have an elevated understanding of Excel. On top of this, knowledge of how to manipulate large amounts of data using SQL, statistical analysis using R and SAS, and how to program is also needed. After passing your first actuarial exams, you should take your time to learn and perfect these skills instead of hopping on to the next exam immediately.

Excel is a powerful tool that you should master. This includes its features, how it works, and its formulas. Companies value the knowledge of Excel, and most of them require a candidate to demonstrate their understanding of Excel by passing an Excel test. Lack of this skill may cause a candidate to lose an opportunity to their peers who know its ins and outs. Learning the ins and outs of Excel should be on top of a candidate’s priority list after their first actuarial exam.

Additionally, having programming skills is also essential. Most actuarial employers value these skills. Candidates should perfect their programming skills using languages like C++, Python, and VBA. Learning VBA is highly recommended because the language can be used to automate tasks in Excel. Excel is used in most actuarial tasks, and this can be beneficial in getting the job done efficiently. 

After learning one language, it is usually easier to learn all the other languages.

Other beneficial skills that a candidate can obtain during this time are:

  • Analytical science software, such as IBM SPSS Statistics and SAS.
  • Database user interface and query software such as MySQL, data entry software, and Oracle.
  • Financial analysis software such as GGY AXIS and Oak Mountain Software Annuity Value.
  • Object Oriented development software.
  • Presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint.

Relevant Experience

Having relevant experience makes you stand out among all the other candidates applying for the same actuarial positions as you. Why? Most candidates have technical skills and have most likely passed their first actuarial exams. Experience varies from any actuarial activity in the field. The activities may include:

  • Analyzing data as a data analyst.
  • Exposure to insurance and financial products as an insurance underwriter.
  • Doing data entry tasks as a financial service representative.

These tasks are usually considered “stepping-stone roles”. They ensure that you have a smooth into your first actuarial position.

How Do I Get a Stepping-Stone Job?

After learning how to use Excel, you can begin searching for “stepping-stone jobs”. This is easier than looking for real actuarial jobs because they have minimal competition. It is also a form of practice that prepares you for application to an actual actuarial position in the future. Therefore an aspiring actuary should never skip this step.

To increase your chances of landing a stepping-stone job, you should have an outstanding resume. The resume should display your skills as clearly as possible. If you are a career changer, it should indicate how your previous position is relative to the current one that you are pursuing. Your resume should capture the hiring manager’s attention within 6 seconds of them going through it. There are videos online that can guide you on how to write a good resume for a stepping-stone position.


After your stepping-stone job, you might want to get into an actuarial position immediately. Networking increases your chances of landing an actuarial position faster. You can do this via LinkedIn and other job networks. Networking enables you to get connections which in turn strengthens your job network. Your network may land you a job almost immediately, depending on how strong it is.

Plunge Into the Actuarial World

Being active in the actuarial world is something every candidate should do. You can immerse yourself into the actuarial world by:

  • Joining actuarial societies like the Actuarial Accelerator community and ProActuary Advisory Board, among others. 
  • Expanding your knowledge of actuarial science by reading widely. This includes books and articles online from experienced individuals in the field.
  • Get yourself a mentor and ask them questions on topics that you need clarity on.
  • Share your ideas online through writing. This enables you to gain insight from different actuaries worldwide who engage your content.

All this is to ensure that you can confidently speak about your knowledge of actuarial matters during conversations. It also ensures that you will be confident when interviewing for actuarial positions due to your vast knowledge of actuarial science.

Strengthen Your Technical Skills

The world, in general, is becoming more tech-focused. Technical skills are as important now as passing your exams. You should aim at strengthening your technical skills just as much as passing your exams. Learning a skill is usually not enough. You can do this by applying your skills to complete projects in your stepping-stone job. This is especially by getting a job done using your VBA and Excel skills. This will, in turn, ensure that you have a rewarding experience in your actuarial positions in the future.

Actuary has a competitive job market. Becoming one of the best actuarial candidates is not going to be easy. However, you can always start after passing your first actuarial exams by engaging in the activities described in this article. This will ensure that you have a smooth journey on your way up to the top. Ready to start studying for your first actuarial exams? Check out AnalystPrep’s SOA study materials for effective learning.