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How to Become an Enrolled Actuary with the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries
ERISA is a federal retirement income system. Those doing actuarial work in connection with ERISA need to become an enrolled actuary. Applicants with sufficient experience who can also pass the actuary exam get licensed by the Joint Board.
An actuary cannot simply get an actuarial degree and then become an enrolled actuary through the Joint Board. There are two ways to qualify under the experience requirement, and both require the experience to have been accumulated in the 10-year window immediately before the application date.
The first way is to get 36 months of responsible pension actuarial experience during that 10-year period. The second way is to get 18 months of the same experience as part of a total of at least 60 months of responsible actuarial experience. What is "responsible" experience is rather complicated. Aspiring enrolled actuaries can review the definition of responsible actuarial and pension actuarial experience in the Joint Board rules. The definitions are in Section 901.1. See the link below for access to those enrolled-actuary rules and regulations.
Actuarial Knowledge Requirements:
An actuary seeking Joint Board enrollment must establish basic actuarial math and methodology knowledge in one of three ways. The first is the Joint Board basic actuary exam. The second is an organizational exam that the board deems close enough to count. The third way to show knowledge is education. The applicant must have at least a bachelor's degree if choosing the education option. That degree must have been with a major or concentration in actuarial mathematics or a combination of math, statistics, actuarial math, and similar subjects. Only the Joint Board may determine what is a sufficient combination of courses related to actuarial science.
Pension Actuarial Knowledge Requirements:
There are two types of pension actuarial exams that will qualify an enrolled-actuary applicant for pension knowledge. The first is a Joint Board pension exam. The second is a third-party exam that the Board deems sufficient as an alternative test.
The fee to become an enrolled actuary may change from time to time. As of October 2011, the application fee is $250. Actuaries applying for enrollment should use Form 5434. There is a link at the bottom of this article.
Taking the Actuary Exams:
As of October 2011, the Society of Actuaries administers the required actuarial exams on behalf of the actuary board. There is a link to the home page below.
Internal Revenue Service and Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries: Form 5434 (Application)
Joint Board Rules for Enrolled Actuary Program for ERISA Practice
Society of Actuaries