Why it's never too early to learn about Actuarial Studies

Adam Butt

Actuarial Studies is a fantastic tertiary option for students with strong mathematical skills. Associate Professor Adam Butt is Head of Actuarial Studies at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Business and Economics, and he’s passionate about actuarial education. We sat down with Adam recently, to find out just what an actuary is and what they do, and why it’s never too early to learn about Actuarial Studies.

What does an actuary do, and what career opportunities are there for fully qualified actuaries in Australia and overseas?

An actuary solves complex business and government problems that require decisions about uncertain future outcomes. These decisions influence and protect society. Actuaries have highly rewarding careers, both financially and in the legacy of their work.

What kinds of skills and attributes make a good actuary?

Good actuaries possess a range of skills. They have the technical ability to model uncertain future outcomes. They also have the business acumen to understand the impact of their analysis. Further, they have communication skills to ensure their analysis can be implemented widely. And finally, good actuaries are curious, wanting to learn more about the problems they solve to improve the outcomes for their clients.

If I’m interested in pursuing Actuarial Studies at university, what can I do while I’m still in college or at high school to help achieve this goal?

Firstly, students should take the highest level of mathematics they are able to. This will instil the curiosity that is at the heart of the career. Secondly, students are encouraged to attend activities that will familiarise them with Actuarial Studies – see the end of this article for upcoming events at ANU. Students are also recommended to learn more about the career by subscribing to Actuaries Digital (it’s free!), the magazine of the Actuaries Institute, which is the professional body for actuaries in Australia.

What does studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at ANU involve, and what sets the ANU experience apart from other universities?

The Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at ANU involves courses across a range of disciplines, including mathematics, statistics, economics, finance, and accounting. At the completion of the degree, students will have a well-rounded education including technical modelling skills and broad business capability. Actuarial staff at the ANU are passionate teachers, with many having won teaching and research awards, and with most also having significant industry experience. Our graduates work in areas around Australia and across the world, and get excellent feedback from industry.

What has been the most interesting experience you’ve had as an actuary, working in statistics?

I’ve been blessed with many exciting experiences working as an actuary. Shortly after graduating, I obtained a 12-month actuarial position in London and used that as a springboard to travelling around Europe. It is a very international career! As an academic, I have worked with some of the largest superannuation funds in Australia to better understand the decisions their members make and why, and how fund communication can help members to make better decisions.

Is there anything else you'd like to highlight about actuarial studies?

The actuarial career is a fantastic option for students with strong mathematical skills who want an applied career where they can truly make a difference for the organisations they work for. The explosion of data science around the world has made actuaries even more valuable, as actuaries are the profession who can interpret and utilise this data to provide value for organisations and society.


Book a visit for your school

Adam and other actuarial experts from ANU are available for high school and college visits to engage with students doing advanced mathematics. To book a visit to your school, send an email with your contact details and preferred dates to: national.cbe@anu.edu.au.

Find out more more about Actuarial Studies at ANU at our upcoming events:

Discover Actuarial Studies at ANU

Register now

Wednesday 1 May, 5pm (AEST)


ANU Actuarial Studies Experience Day

Register now

Thursday 3 October, 9.15am–4pm (AEST)

CBE Building 26C, Kingsley Street, Acton


Read more about the Bachelor of Actuarial Studies at ANU.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.