SAS (short for Statistical Analysis System) is a suite of statistical software produced by the SAS institute, used in a number of academic, commercial, and governmental contexts. It’s a platform with decades’ worth of history behind it, and many companies looking for analysts and other technologists will prefer candidates who are familiar with its use.
But here’s the big question: When competing for jobs that ask for some level of SAS knowledge, would it be helpful to have SAS certifications? Let’s try to answer that question, along with exploring the types of SAS certifications out there (and their costs).
Does SAS have an official certification?
SAS boasts 29 official certifications in multiple categories, including JMP, administration, data management, BI & analytics, “partners” (a category for SAS’s partners), advanced analytics, and foundation tools.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably want to tackle the foundation tool certifications, which include:
- SAS Certified Associate: Programming Fundamentals Using SAS 9.4
- SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4
- SAS Certified Clinical Trials Programmer Using SAS 9
- SAS Certified Professional: Advanced Programming Using SAS 9.4
From there, you may want to move on to BI & analytics, featuring the following certifications:
Those continuing on their SAS journey who feel they’ve mastered the fundamentals can also consider these advanced analytics certifications:
- SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9
- SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9
- SAS Certified Predictive Modeler Using SAS Enterprise Miner 14
- SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9: Regression and Modeling
- AI and Machine Learning Professional
- SAS Certified Specialist: Machine Learning Using SAS Viya 3.4
- SAS Certified Specialist: Forecasting and Optimization Using SAS Viya 3.5
- Natural Language & Computer Vision Specialist
Those whose careers will involve a great deal of SAS specialization may also want to consider the data management, administration, JMP, and partners categories (this last one is restricted access, and you must contact SAS if you want to explore that pathway).
How do I get an SAS certification?
In order to obtain an official SAS certification, you must take the exam. The SAS site features some practice exams you can take. Some of these practice exams are free, with no time limits; there are also fee-based exams ($55) with a six-hour time limit. For programming-centric exams, technologists will need their own installation of SAS (or SAS University Edition), while those taking predictive modeling exams will need their own copy of SAS Enterprise Miner.
The price for an actual SAS exam is $180, with two exceptions: The Predictive Modeling using SAS Enterprise Miner exam, which costs $250, and the SAS 9.4 Programming Fundamentals exam, which is $120.
Is it worth getting SAS certifications?
That’s a huge question. Let’s start by turning to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes data from millions of job postings across the country. As you can see from the following chart, a very small percentage of jobs require an SAS certification.
Now let’s look at the percentages of jobs asking for SAS developer skills. These numbers are higher, especially (as you might expect) for data scientists, data analysts, data mining specialists, statisticians, and social science researchers:
What can we conclude from this? Many businesses hunting for data scientists, analysts, statisticians, and similar professions would like applicants to have SAS-related skills—but those applicants usually don’t need SAS-related certifications. That’s good news for those who know their way around the SAS platform, but haven’t had the time or money to secure a highly specialized certification.
For those who’ve spent the time and resources to secure SAS certifications, though, there’s also some good news in this data: Although certifications aren’t requested for the majority of these positions, having one (or several) will make you stand out. Hiring managers and recruiters are comforted by the presence of certifications on an application, because it offers hard proof that the applicant knows what they’re doing when it comes to a particular technology.
What is the future of those with SAS skills?
Burning Glass predicts that jobs asking for SAS skills will grow at a rate of 4.4 percent over the next decade, which is pretty good! Companies have an intense hunger for technologists who can analyze data, and SAS is widely viewed as an essential part of the analytics toolbox.
Related SAS developer jobs resources: