Earning Actuarial Credentials

By progressing through an intense training and examination process, actuaries earn professional credentials and career opportunities. In some ways, the journey is similar to that of accountants, attorneys and physicians—with an emphasis on how mathematical analysis can support strategic business decisions. Candidates pursuing a credential can focus on corporate finance and enterprise risk management, quantitative finance and investment, life and annuities, retirement benefits, group and health or general insurance (property and casualty.)

Whether beginning the process before or after earning a degree—or even after gaining experience in another career—the steps are the same:

  1. Undertake many hours of independent study to master actuarial tools and techniques
  2. Gain credentials by passing a series of exams and other components that validate your increasing knowledge and experience

Associate (ASA)

Actuarial candidates who pass the first segment of requirements earn the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) credential.

An Associate:

  • Knows the fundamental concepts and techniques for modeling and managing risk. Learn more about the ASA requirements.
  • Knows basic methods of applying those concepts and techniques to common problems involving uncertain future events, especially those with financial implications
  • Has completed a professionalism course covering the SOA code of conduct and the importance of adhering to recognized standards of practice

The ASA requirements are the same regardless of which track a candidate selects. These requirements prepare actuaries to specialize in any practice area, including general insurance (property and casualty).

To get started, download the ASA Guide.


The Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) credential—signifies a specialty in enterprise risk management.

A CERA in the SOA:

  • Knows how to identify, measure and manage risk within risk-bearing enterprises
  • Completes a professionalism course covering the professional code of conduct and the importance of adherence to recognized standards of practice
  • Learn more about the benefits of the CERA

CERAs who have the Application for Admission as an Associate approved by the SOA Board of Directors will be granted membership as an Associate.

Fellow (FSA)

An actuarial candidate who meets all Associate requirements can begin completing the additional training and exams to earn the highest designation of Fellow.

A Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA):

  • Knows and understands the business environments where financial decisions are made. Learn more about the specialty tracks and exam requirements.
  • Applies mathematical concepts and other techniques to the various areas of actuarial practice
  • Demonstrates in-depth knowledge and applies appropriate techniques to a specific area of actuarial practice

Actuaries who practice outside the U.S. often must secure a designation from a local organization. In addition to the credentials offered through the Society of Actuaries, there are other recognized actuarial designations and credentials.

Take a closer look at the path to fellowship.

Training takes time

Typically, actuarial candidates study for and complete the full series of exams alongside a full-time career. Some employers support this process by:

  • Allowing time for study during the workday
  • Paying exam fees
  • Offering raises or other rewards for exam progress

The time to complete the designation of Fellow varies from person to person, generally taking six to ten years. However, entry-level actuarial roles typically are open to candidates who have passed just the first two exams. Many students take those two exams while earning an undergraduate degree, then progress toward the Associate designation while working, usually in three of five years.