The Society of Actuaries Bylaws states that a member may use the designation "Fellow of the Society of Actuaries" or "Associate of the Society of Actuaries," as applicable, or the corresponding initials. Since these designations will be viewed by the public as conveying a certain professional standing, this brief explanation of their meaning is intended to be helpful to our members and to the public.
The Society of Actuaries, as described in our Mission and Vision Statement, is an education, research, and professional membership organization. Achieving Fellowship or Associateship status is based primarily on completing specified educational requirements, with no requirement related to a certain number of years of practical actuarial experience. The FSA and ASA designations and CERA credential signify completion of the following educational achievements:
- Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst: A Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) of the Society of Actuaries has demonstrated knowledge in the identification, measurement and management of risk within risk–bearing enterprises. The CERA has also completed a professionalism course covering the professional code of conduct and the importance of adherence to recognized standards of practice. CERAs who have the Application for Admission as an Associate approved by the SOA Board of Directors will be granted membership as an Associate.
- Associate: An Associate of the Society of Actuaries has demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental concepts and techniques for modeling and managing risk. The Associate has also learned the basic methods of applying those concepts and techniques to common problems involving uncertain future events, especially those with financial implications. The Associate has also completed a professionalism course covering the professional code of conduct and the importance of adherence to recognized standards of practice. Associates who have been members of the SOA for five or more years may also vote in Society of Actuaries elections.
- Fellow: Has demonstrated a knowledge of the business environments within which financial decisions concerning pensions, life insurance, health insurance, and investments are made including the application of mathematical concepts and other techniques to the various areas of actuarial practice. The Fellow has further demonstrated an in–depth knowledge of the application of appropriate techniques to a specific area of actuarial practice. Fellows may vote in Society of Actuaries elections.
When Associate status is achieved, the individual becomes a member of the Society of Actuaries, is able to attend meetings, join in discussions, participate on Committees, join Sections, and is subject to the code of conduct for the profession. All Fellows and five-year Associates may vote in Society of Actuaries elections.
While these educational accomplishments are a vital part of an actuary's progress, they must be combined with appropriate training and practical experience in order for an actuary to be qualified to practice and to give advice on a specific issue. It is important to note that the Society of Actuaries' professional designations and credentials, of themselves, recognize educational accomplishment only. In most cases, by the time an individual reaches the Fellowship level, considerable practical experience has been acquired. The combination of educational achievement, practical experience, and formal qualification (e.g., Enrolled Actuary; Fellow, Canadian Institute of Actuaries; Member, American Academy of Actuaries) permits the actuary to practice within his or her area of expertise.