SAS Certified Professionals: Taking Analytics Up
When accomplished SAS programmer Linda Adams was laid off, the situation was grim. Given a sluggish economy and the dearth of hiring employers in her region, Adams encountered an unfriendly job-search environment. “Despite all my experience and education, I just couldn’t get an interview,” she said.
Adams looked for a way to enhance one of her most valuable skills—more than 13 years of experience programming in SAS. Providing leading software for business intelligence and analytics, SAS is used to analyze data at more than 40,000 business, government and academic organizations. Because individuals with SAS software skills are in high demand, Adams knew that a professional certification in SAS would help her stand out from the competition in her job search.
Armed with this knowledge, Adams embarked upon a journey to become SAS-certified. Within months, she earned the SAS Base Programmer credential and almost immediately landed a job with the Texas Education Agency. “They told me up front that the fact that I was certified was a significant factor in getting an interview,” said Adams. “While my résumé said I had all those years of experience with SAS, becoming a SAS Certified Professional gave me the opportunity to document my advanced level of knowledge. For me, it made all the difference.”
The Value of SAS Certification
The good news for professionals interested in pursuing SAS certification is that the demand for SAS expertise far outweighs the supply. For example, a Yahoo Hot Jobs search for “SAS” in November 2005 returned more than 3,370 jobs.
“Employers are desperate to hire top-notch analytical employees with SAS expertise,” said Michael Hardin, professor of statistics at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration. The need also is mentioned in a recent issue of InfoWorld: “Staffing needs are shifting, as more staff with analytical, statistical and business domain experience are required.”
Becoming a SAS Certified Professional affords candidates several professional and personal rewards. Certification represents an opportunity for SAS software users to increase their career opportunities and marketability to employers by demonstrating their advanced level of knowledge. Certification also enhances their credibility as technical professionals in a field of rapidly increasing competition. Finally, it allows candidates to earn global industry recognition for their knowledge.
The Program’s Beginnings
As with many SAS initiatives, it was SAS customers who affirmed the need for a certification program. In 1998, SAS conducted a survey with a sample of software users on their wants and needs with regard to certification. Of nearly 1,500 SAS users who responded, more than 70 percent in the United States and 95 percent in Europe said that they would benefit from and pursue SAS certification. Armed with such an endorsement, SAS launched its SAS Certified Professional Program.
The program debuted in 1999, offering credentials in programming, data management and application development. Since its inception, the program has achieved substantial growth globally and today boasts more than 7,000 certified professionals from 55 countries.
SAS Certification Offerings
Just as SAS has continually evolved to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the market, the certification program also has been quick to respond. SAS currently offers certification tracks within the following areas: programming, data warehousing and application development.
With multiple certification tracks offered by the program, IT professionals regardless of industry can increase their credibility in the marketplace. “When working with potential customers, we have found that the SAS certification program adds to our credibility,” said SAS Certified Professional David Septoff, principal at Zencos Consulting LLC. “In fact, we find it to be an invaluable value-add when demonstrating our capabilities to that new customer. We recommend the program to customers who want to add that same credibility to their business units.”
Successful programmers know the value of developing efficient code to solve problems and derive accurate answers. SAS programmers are no different, and the programming credentials provide opportunities for novice as well as seasoned SAS users to validate their SAS programming knowledge. Two credentials are offered to measure the user’s SAS programming acumen:
- SAS Certified Base Programmers are responsible for analyzing and presenting data to solve business needs. This credential requires the successful completion of the SAS Base Programming exam.
- SAS Certified Advanced Programmers are responsible for writing efficient code to solve complex business problems, while minimizing the use of computing resources. This credential also helps those holding the SAS Certified Base Programmer credential enhance their SAS programming repertoire. It requires successful completion of the SAS Base Programming and SAS Advanced Programming exams.
SAS Data Warehousing
While the use and manipulation of data is important, the task is difficult to achieve if there are multiple versions of the truth within your data. How can one version of the truth be obtained? Data warehousing integrates metadata, information about data sources (including how it was derived), business rules and access authorizations to produce consistent and accurate information. SAS ensures that a single definition of data, locations, content and business rules is used to minimize the costs associated with managing multiple metadata resources, thus simplifying deployment, administration and use. Two credentials are offered in this skill set, testing the user’s expertise in the development, implementation, deployment and maintenance of the data warehouse:
- SAS Certified Warehouse Architects are responsible for designing and deploying data warehouse solutions. This credential requires the successful completion of the SAS Warehouse Architect and SAS Warehouse Technology exams.
- SAS Certified Warehouse Development Specialists are responsible for implementing and maintaining the warehouse.
This credential requires the successful completion of the SAS Advanced Programming, SAS Warehouse Development Specialist Concepts and SAS Warehouse Technology exams.
SAS Application Development
Creating applications that empower users with easy-to-use analysis and reporting applications is integral to moving businesses forward. SAS offers a visual Java development environment that enables users to build applications, applets, servlets and classes using a drag-and-drop, object-oriented interface that minimizes the need for programming.
There is one certification in this skill set: the SAS Certified webAF Developer. With this server-side credential, the user is responsible for designing, building, implementing and maintaining advanced information delivery applications using SAS software. The credential requires the successful completion of the SAS Advanced Programming and SAS webAF Server-Side Application Development exams.
The Future of SAS Certification
As the program moves into 2006, SAS will provide even more opportunities for users worldwide to set themselves apart from their competition. In addition to the current certification offerings, SAS has begun to develop its newest certification track, focusing on business intelligence. In recent years, SAS has emerged as a leading provider of business intelligence software by empowering organizations with one end-to-end solution. Since the need for SAS business intelligence expertise is paramount, SAS will offer exams that test this