SAS Education awards its 50,000th SAS Certified Professional credential
SAS Education is celebrating a significant milestone: 50,000 certification credentials have been awarded to professionals around the world through the SAS Global Certification program
The program has come a long way since its launch 14 years ago. SAS users can now validate their skills in a variety of credentials including SAS Programming, Analytics, Administration, Data Management and Business Intelligence.
"We've averaged double-digit growth in the number of SAS certifications awarded each year," said Terry Barham, SAS Global Certification Manager. "Employers are looking for these credentials because it ensures an advanced level of SAS knowledge and has proven to increase productivity. Professionals seek them out because they recognize that it sets them apart from the competition."
Konstantin Lang, a statistical analyst for a German pharmaceutical company, earned the 50,000th credential when he received his Advanced Programmer for SAS 9 credential
in late December.
Already certified in base programming, Lang said the advanced certification has given him a higher level of proficiency in SAS programming expertise which has paid off at work.
"The base programming credential helped me understand how SAS works," said Lang. "The advanced programming was more in-depth, especially with MACRO and SQL code. It really made me more efficient and accurate in my job," said Lang.
Lang is like a lot of other certified professionals who juggled preparing for the exam while working a full-time job. The recent university grad said it was well worth it, though it meant he had to sacrifice other pursuits as well -- like a girlfriend.
"I studied hard for about three to four weeks before the exam and had to do most of my studying after work," said Lang.
To help prepare, Lang used the SAS Certification Prep Guides
, which he found to be a comprehensive resource that covered most of the objectives tested on the exam. The quizzes, Lang said, really helped him retain the material and identify areas for further study.
Though Lang's company encouraged him to get both his base and advanced programming credentials, he was also motivated by personal goals.
"I didn't just get it for the job," said Lang. "It was also to make me a better programmer and more familiar with SAS."
The credentials have taken him to the next level at his current job and will undoubtedly benefit him throughout his career. So what's next? "Maybe a girlfriend," Lang says with a laugh.
German IT Company's Customers Put Stock in SAS Certification
"Das Know-how unserer Mitarbeiter ist ein zentraler Baustein unseres Geschäftsmodells. Unsere IT-Experten haben Wissensziele statt Umsatzzielen und Fortbildung wird bei uns großgeschrieben. Das Zertifizierungsprogramm sowie das Trainer-Akkreditierungsprogramm unseres wichtigsten Softwarepartners SAS Institute nutzen wir deshalb seit langem sehr gerne. Für Kunden und Interessenten sind die Zertifikate ein dokumentierter Beweis für den hohen Ausbildungsstand der Berater, Trainer und Entwickler von HMS Analytical Software. Und für den Mitarbeiter stellt die Zertifizierung eine Anerkennung seines Status als SAS-Experte dar."
Andreas Mangold, Geschäftsführer, HMS Analytical Software GmbH
"Our business is based on well educated employees. Our IT experts have knowledge goals instead of revenue goals; education is very important to us. Therefore, we take part in the certification and accreditation program from our most important software partner, SAS Institute. From customers' point-of-view, the SAS Certification is a documented proof for the high knowledge level of the professionals from HMS Analytical Software. And for our employees, SAS Certification is confirmation of their SAS expertise."
Partnership extends SAS Certification access to university students
Greg Smith, assistant professor of the MIS department of the Williams College of Business at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, is pleased to report the value he sees in the University's recent collaboration with SAS to offer an on-campus SAS predictive modeling certification exam:
"Since most of our MBA students are employed full-time with little access to other off-campus exam locations, it was important for Xavier University to offer an on-campus certification exam in predictive modeling. We wanted to give our students easy access to the exam, so that the exam would fit their busy schedules. SAS not only made this possible, they made it easy. Everyone at SAS was knowledgeable and helpful assisting us with delivery of the onsite exam, and I couldn't imagine having a better experience with a certification exam.
Also, with so many corporations in the greater Cincinnati area emphasizing business intelligence, we jumped at the prospect of offering the opportunity for validation of predictive modeling skills on our campus. SAS certification will provide our students with a significant advantage in today's competitive marketplace."
Clearing the first-job hurdle: The University of Missouri and the SAS Global Certification program team up to prepare students for life after college
Ray Bacon isn't a professor at the University of Missouri, but for eight days each semester you wouldn't know it. During these days, Bacon, a user support analyst for the Social Science Statistics Center at the University of Missouri, leads students through a grueling crash course in SAS programming. Eight sessions and sixty four hours of instruction later, many of his students are ready to take the certification exam to become SAS Certified Programmers.
As anyone who has made the transition from college student to working world professional can attest, landing that first job is never easy. Even if you bring outstanding grades, interesting internships and an impeccable résumé to the table, standing out from hundreds of other applicants is tough. Luckily, University of Missouri students have Ray Bacon.
Twice a year, every year for the last several, Bacon, a SAS Certified Advanced Programmer, has made it his personal mission to arm a handful of students with a tool that helps them distinguish themselves from all the other graduates whose résumés lay in the same stack: professional certification from SAS. Fortunately for Bacon, the University of Missouri has been supportive of his goal to train the next generation of SAS programmers.
"Unlike some universities who can be out of touch with the demands of the business world their students will encounter post-graduation, the University of Missouri seeks out opportunities to educate their students beyond the traditional curriculum," Bacon explained. Given the supportive environment, Bacon put together a crash course in SAS which teaches students the basics of SAS programming. Bacon has offered the course six times in three years and estimates that he prepares about 30 students a semester.
Most of the students, Bacon explains, are graduate students or exceptionally bright upperclassmen who realize certification in SAS will prove a great résumé builder. They come from all different disciplines as well, with students from engineering, business, biochemistry, economics, statistics and other fields participating in the latest offering this past fall. The program consists of eight sessions totaling 64 hours of preparation. Bacon mostly uses material from SAS Education's course material and SAS Publication's preparation guide for certification.
"It's not a program for the faint-hearted," Bacon insisted. "We usually start with 30 or so students about 75% graduates, 25% undergraduates. We lose some along the way, but we usually have 20 or so complete the preparation. More than half of the remaining students then decide to take the certification exam and about 75% pass."
The University of Missouri has a fairly developed relationship and long history using SAS. SAS is used in many of the university's departments, by administers, professors and students alike. Bacon's program, however, helps the great number of students who use SAS, but have no way of exhibiting their expertise to prospective employers. "I really can't blame hiring mangers here," said Bacon. "Students might be able to list 'SAS proficiency' on their résumé, but without that internationally recognized credential it's really too risky for employers to hire someone who claims to be a SAS expert. With professional certification from SAS, however, there's no doubt."
Bacon says several of his students have landed great jobs using the SAS credentials they obtained as a result of the class. Dozens of students from the program have obtained jobs as SAS programmers in a variety of industries. A good example, Bacon says is former University of Missouri graduate student Prakash Gurumurthy.
"Though I had done a number of SAS programming projects during my undergraduate and master's program, the whole experience of preparing for and then passing the certification examination gave me enough confidence to apply for SAS analyst jobs with some of the top companies in the world." Gurumurthy offered. While many of his peers spent a year or more looking for a job, Gurumurthy noticed a difference in the level of interest he received from prospective employers almost immediately.
"After I secured my certification, the number of interviews I received increased dramatically," Gurumurthy exclaimed. Within a month of passing the Base SAS Programming exam, Gurumurthy landed a job as a Research Analyst for a Los Angeles based media and publishing company.
Success stories like Gurumurthy's keep Bacon interested in continuing the program. "I love the University of Missouri and SAS and this program allows me to serve our students in a way that makes a profound difference in their lives." Asked how long he plans to continue running the program Bacon laughed before sharing the good news: "Until someone makes me stop."
Students find SAS certifications valuable on both sides of the table
SAS certifications are an important tool - both for those seeking employment and for employers making hiring decisions. For two SAS users, the advantages of becoming certified have been and continue to be innumerable.
Michael Tomb was first introduced to SAS in 1980. He was subcontracting for a company using proprietary FORTRAN routines to read a federal government tape containing more than 7 million records. The company had already put in two months of staff hours writing a FORTRAN program that ran into errors 3 million records into the tape. Debugging the problem was proving costly, and Tomb was asked to look into using SAS as an alternative. After an initial learning curve, he was able to write a 150-line program solution in a single afternoon. The company was so impressed that they hired Tomb as a regular employee.
"I guess you could say that SAS was responsible for my first professional job," he says now.
Although he wasn't certified at the time, Tomb went on to continue his SAS education. He took his first certification exam in 2000, when he found himself in the ironic position of hiring other SAS users for his consulting firm, Informatica ECS. "I was hoping to find that the SAS certification was a good screening tool to verify expertise. I was immediately impressed that this was true."
Paul Winters has been in a similar situation. While studying for his master's degree in applied statistics at Rochester Institute of Technology, Winters was advised by his department chair to learn SAS as a way to broaden his career opportunities. Winters purchased a student license and used SAS to complete coursework, eventually becoming certified in Base SAS.
"At the time, I had been working as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service for 18 years," said Winters. "I knew that making a career change would be difficult without any professional experience."
Today, Winters is lead programmer/analyst for the University of Rochester Medical Center and teaches an advanced, graduate-level SAS course at the university - a degree requirement for a doctorate in epidemiology. Once a student, now the teacher, Winters said he finds value not only in learning and teaching SAS but also in gaining certification.
"It clearly gave me an advantage in obtaining my current position by giving me a professional credential without much experience," he said.
Tomb, a business owner with 20 years of experience and a SAS Certified Advanced Programmer himself, agrees. "I now believe that Base SAS certification should be a requirement for any job description that assumes SAS knowledge."
Both Tomb and Winters plan to continue their training. Tomb is currently considering whether to seek server-side certification as a SAS webAF developer. Meanwhile, Winters hopes to sit for the SAS Certified Advanced Programmer certification in the near future.
"Base SAS was an important and incredibly useful tool in 1980, and this has continued until today," Tomb said. "Many other fashions, languages and platforms have come and gone, but SAS remains."