Actuarial science is a specialty niche financial management career field, and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) is a key organization that promotes excellence and continuous improvement within this field. Actuaries use mathematical models to perform financial risk management for public, private and non-profit organizations. The SOA, which was founded in 1949, is one of the main professional organizations in North America for the development of actuaries, and its programs are useful for actuaries who work in all types of industry sectors. Another actuarial association is the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), and its initiatives promote financial risk management activities that pertain specifically to the insurance sector. The SOA supports actuaries by facilitating special events that feature subject matter experts, providing education and training and administering the necessary professional credentials for career development. Here are the designations that actuaries can earn through the SOA and a description of the requirements that SOA members need to meet to acquire them.
Associate of the SOA
The Associate of the SOA is an entry-level requirement for SOA membership, and financial professionals cannot even refer to themselves as actuaries in the United States without becoming members of SOA or CAS. Aspiring actuaries begin the membership process by submitting admission applications that must be approved by the Society of Actuaries’ Board of Directors. Since the field of actuarial science necessitates that practitioners use extensive quantitative analysis skills regularly, prospective members SOA must validate their educational experience in corporate finance, applied statistical methods and economics. SOA member candidates must also complete training courses and a three-hour exam that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge of basic financial risk management techniques. Prior to being named a member of the SOA, a candidate must complete a professional standards course.
Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst
Prospective members of SOA can gain Associate member status by taking the training and exam for the Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) designation. CERA candidates must demonstrate competence in identifying, measuring and mitigating risks in a variety of enterprises that include insurance, energy, transportation and manufacturing. CERA candidates take SOA-sponsored training and a series of exams that demonstrate their abilities to apply financial, strategic and operational risk management techniques to common, real-world scenarios. These candidates also must take a professional standards course to become Associate members of the Society of Actuaries.
Fellow of the SOA
The analysis that actuarial scientists perform is designed to support financial decision-making at all levels of an organization’s management. Candidates for the Fellow of the SOA credential are seasoned business professionals who have expertise in applying advanced mathematical models to specific areas of business like financial investment tools, insurance and retirement pensions. Prospective fellows must complete e-learning training courses, comprehensive exams in actuarial specialty areas, a professional standards seminar and the SOA Fellowship Admissions Course prior to receiving the designation. Fellows of the SOA have voting rights within the Society.
Professional actuarial organizations are valued partners in the actuary science career field. In fact, membership and certification through either the SOA or the CAS is often a condition of employment for finance professionals who work in actuarial positions. Besides offering extensive educational resources, the Society of Actuaries provides experienced actuaries with opportunities to hone their leadership skills through volunteering and mentoring aspiring actuaries.