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SAS Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

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SAS

What first began as an agricultural research project at North Carolina State University eventually grew into a full-fledged software and services company by 1976. SAS has gone on to develop a solid customer base in the banking and pharmaceutical industries as well as in academia and at numerous agencies at all levels of government. Today, SAS is a leader in business analytics, data warehousing and data mining.

SAS has been recognized as one of the best places to work by organizations like Fortune and the Great Place to Work Institute. Coming in at No. 37, SAS made its 21st appearance in Fortune's list of 100 best companies to work for in 2017 and No. 23 in Fortune's list of top 100 best workplaces for millennials in 2018. Indeed, the company's low turnover rate (4 percent in 2016) is an indicator of its commitment to its employees and, indirectly, to its customers as well.

Of the top 100 Fortune Global 500 companies, 96 are SAS customers. SAS customers span the globe with more than 83,000 instances installed in 144 countries.

SAS has awarded more than 100,000 certifications since the program's introduction in 1999, according to Brightcove. Today, the SAS Global Certification Program offers 23 credentials across seven categories:

  • Foundation Tools
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics
  • Data Management
  • Administration
  • JMP
  • Partners

SAS certifications, along with required exams and costs, are described in more detail in the following sections. Although experience levels aren't specifically indicated for each certification, a good rule of thumb is a minimum of eight months of experience on the base SAS system for Base Programmers and two to three years of relevant, hands-on experience for all other certifications before candidates tackle their respective exams. 

All exams are administered by Pearson VUE or through a SAS-sponsored certification exam session (typically in conjunction with a training course). SAS also offers online proctored exams for all certification credentials through their partnership with Pearson VUE. Note that all certifications covered below are based on SAS 9.4.

Foundation Tools credentials aim at SAS professionals whose workdays revolve around writing and managing SAS programs. The company currently offers three Foundation Tools certifications:

  • SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9: The Base Programmer knows how to query databases and perform analyses, including importing and exporting raw data files, manipulating data, combining SAS data sets and creating reports. The certification exam features 50 to 55 multiple-choice questions, a 100-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least a 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
     
  • SAS Certified Advanced Programmer for SAS 9: The Advanced Programmer must be skilled in writing advanced DATA step programming statements and solving complex problems as well as interpreting SAS SQL code and writing SAS macros. The certification exam features 60 to 65 multiple-choice questions, a 100-minute time limit and candidates must answer at least 65 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
     
  • SAS Certified Clinical Trials Programmer Using SAS 9: This programmer works exclusively with clinical trials data, transforming raw data into polished, validated reports. There are two different paths to achieving this certification:
     
    • Clinical Trial Programmer Exam: The certification exam features 90 to100 multiple-choice questions, a three-hour time limit and candidates must answer at least a 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam. There are no prerequisites required to take this exam.
       
    • Clinical Trial Programmer – Accelerated Exam: The certification exam features 70 to 75 multiple-choice questions, a 120-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least a 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam. Candidates must already have completed the SAS Base Programmer certification before they can sit for this accelerated exam.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost*

SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9

SAS Base Programming for SAS 9 exam (A00-211)

$180

SAS Certified Advanced Programmer for SAS 9

SAS Advanced Programming for SAS 9 exam (A00-212)

Must possess SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9 credential

$180

SAS Certified Clinical Trials Programmer Using SAS 9

Clinical Trials Programming Using SAS 9 exam (A00-280)

OR
Clinical Trials Programming Using SAS 9 – Accelerated Version exam (A00-281)

Requires the SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9 credential

$180 each exam

* SAS offers a 50 percent discount on the cost of all exams to instructors, students, faculty and staff at schools and higher education institutions as well as to SAS employees. See the SAS FAQs for details.

The Advanced Analytics credentials are designed for SAS professionals who gather, manipulate and analyze big data using SAS tools, run reports and make business recommendations based on complex models. The certifications in this category include:

  • SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9: Data scientists can use both open source and SAS tools to manipulate data, form conclusions and make recommendations, and deploy SAS solutions. Rather than being a stand-alone certification, the Certified Data Scientist credential is attained by completing the Certified Big Data Professional and Certified Advanced Analytics Professional credentials.
     
  • SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9: An Advanced Analytics Professional uses predictive modeling and statistical analysis methods and techniques to analyze big data sets. Candidates must pass three exams to complete this certification:
     
    • Predictive Monitoring Using SAS Enterprise Miner 7, 13 or 14
    • Advanced Predictive Modeling
    • Text Analytics, Time Series, Experimentation and Optimization
       
  • SAS Certified Predictive Modeler Using SAS Enterprise Miner 14: A Predictive Modeler prepares data and then builds, assesses, and implements predictive models. The certification exam features 55 to 60 multiple choice and short-answer questions, a 165-minute time limit, and candidates must achieve a score of at least 725 points from a possible point range of 200 to 1,000 points to pass the exam. Find out more about scaled scores via the exam FAQs. There are no credential prerequisites required to take this exam, though a thorough knowledge of a number of related skills and techniques is required.
     
  • SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9 Regression and Modeling: The Statistical Business Analyst uses SAS software to perform statistical analyses and predictive modeling, including linear and logistic regression, variance analysis and model performance measurements. The certification exam features 60 multiple-choice and short-answer questions, a two-hour time limit, and candidates must answer at least 68 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam. There are no credential prerequisites required to take this exam, though a thorough knowledge of a number of related skills and techniques is required.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified Data Scientist Using SAS 9

No exam is required. Credential is awarded to candidates who possess the following two certifications:

SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9 (2 exams, $180 each, $360 total)

SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9 (3 exams, $610 total)

$970

SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional Using SAS 9

Predictive Modeling Using SAS Enterprise Miner 13 (Candidates with SAS Certified Predictive Modeler Using SAS Enterprise Miner 7, 13 or 14 do not need to take this exam.), $250

SAS Advanced Predictive Modeling (A00-225), $180

SAS Text Analytics, Time Series, Experimentation and Optimization (A00-226), $180

$610

SAS Certified Predictive Modeler Using SAS Enterprise Miner 14

Predictive Modeling using SAS Enterprise Miner 14 exam

$250

SAS Certified Statistical Business Analyst Using SAS 9: Regression and Modeling

SAS Statistical Business Analysis Using SAS 9: Regression and Modeling exam (A00-240)

$180

The Business Intelligence and Analytics credentials are designed for IT professionals who create interfaces and reports for SAS 9 or who use SAS Visual Analytics routinely. For the following certifications, there are no credential prerequisites required to take these exams, though a thorough knowledge of a number of related skills and techniques is required. The three certifications in this category are:

  • SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9: The BI Content Developer focuses mainly on creating, implementing and customizing SAS interface applications (such as reporting applications), including data management and dashboard creation. The certification exam features 60 to 65 multiple-choice questions, a two-hour time limit, and candidates must answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
     
  • SAS Certified Visual Business Analyst Exploration and Design Using SAS Visual Analytics: This credential targets analysts who use SAS Visual Analytics, Visual Analytics Explorer, and Visual Analytics Designer to add, manipulate and explore data, and create reports. The certification exam features 60 to 65 multiple-choice questions, a 100-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least 68 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
     
  • SAS Certified Visual Modeler Using SAS Visual Statistics 7.4:  The Certified Visual Modeler targets analysts who perform model fitting and analysis as well as predictive and exploratory modeling in business environments using SAS Visual Statistics. The certification exam features 50 multiple-choice, short-answer and interactive questions, a 90-minute time limit and candidates must answer at least 68 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9

SAS BI Content Development for SAS 9 exam (A00-270)

$180

SAS Certified Visual Business Analyst: Exploration and Design Using SAS Visual Analytics

SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 Exploration and Design exam (A00-277)

$180

SAS Certified Visual Modeler Using SAS Visual Statistics 7.4

SAS Interactive Model Building and Exploration Using SAS Visual Statistics 7.4 exam (A00-272)

$180

Professionals whose workdays (or career aspirations) revolve more around managing data and platforms rather than deep statistics, analysis and modeling will gravitate to data management credentials. For the following certifications, there are no credential prerequisites required to take these exams, though a thorough knowledge of a number of related skills and techniques is required. The three certifications in this category are:

  • SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9: The Big Data credential is designed for professionals who conduct statistical analyses using SAS and open source data-management tools. This credential is comprised of two separate exams:
     
    • Big Data Preparation, Statistics and Visual Exploration
    • SAS Big Data Programming and Loading
       
  • SAS Certified Data Integration Developer for SAS 9: The Data Integration Developer works with data to prepare it for analysis and reporting. Candidates must know how to define the platform architecture for SAS Business Analytics as well as create metadata, transform data and tables, and run jobs. The certification exam features 76 multiple-choice questions, a 105-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.
     
  • SAS Certified Data Quality Steward for SAS 9: The Data Quality Steward validates the skills of professionals who use the SAS DataFlux Data Management Studio. The certification exam features 75 multiple-choice questions, a 110-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least 68 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9

SAS Big Data Preparation, Statistics, and Visual Exploration exam (A00-220)

SAS Big Data Programming and Loading exam (A00-221)

$180 each, $360 total

SAS Certified Data Integration Developer for SAS 9

SAS Data Integration Development for SAS 9 exam (A00-260)

$180

SAS Certified Data Quality Steward for SAS 9

SAS Data Quality using DataFlux Data Management Studio exam (A00-262)

$180

The administration category has a single credential – the SAS Certified Platform Administrator for SAS 9 – designed for professionals responsible for supporting the SAS Business Analytics platform from installation through day-to-day maintenance. Candidates must know how to set up folders, manage user accounts, monitor system performance, apply security techniques, perform backups and complete other administrative tasks. The certification exam features 70 multiple-choice questions, a 110-minute time limit, and candidates must answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified Platform Administrator for SAS 9

SAS Platform Administration for SAS 9 exam (A00-250)

$180

SAS JMP is data analysis and visualization software that allows users to explore, mine and share data analyses in a graphical format. The JMP credential includes two exams:

  • JMP Certified Specialist – JMP Scripting Using JMP 14: Using the JMP Scripting Language (JSL), candidates will demonstrate their proficiency in completing various programming and scripting tasks.
     
  • JMP Certified Specialist – Design and Analysis of Experiments Using JMP 14: Successful candidates will demonstrate their abilities and skills in designing and analyzing various industrial experiments, including evaluating model assumptions and process optimization.

Both of these certification exams feature 50 to 60 multiple-choice and short-answer questions, a 150-minute time limit, and candidates must achieve a score of at least 725 points from the possible point range of 200 to 1,000 points. Find out more about scaled scores via the exam FAQ.

Certification

Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

JMP Certified Specialist: JMP Scripting Using JMP 14

JMP Scripting Using JMP 14 exam (A00-908)

$180

JMP Certified Specialist: Design and Analysis of Experiments Using JMP 14

Design and Analysis of Experiments Using JMP 14 (A00-909)

$180

SAS offers credential programs for certified SAS resellers, VARs, and consultants though its partner program. There are six partner credentials available to SAS partners:

Access to the Partner credentialing portal is restricted to authorized SAS partners only. As a result, some details of the partner exam process are hidden from public view. If you work for a SAS partner, ask your company SAS liaison or your SAS sales team for more details about partner certifications.

Why get SAS certified? More demonstrated knowledge typically means more earning power. A quick search for SAS programmer on major job posting sites returns hundreds, if not thousands, of open positions across the United States, most with starting salaries in a range from $52,000 to $126,000.

While salaries vary depending on industry, experience, certifications achieved and other factors, average SAS programmer earnings are almost $81,038 nationally, per SimplyHired. The average earnings in SAS statistical modeling careers are almost $110,000, topping out around $200,000.

Tip: To make the hiring process easier, employers can verify a candidate's credentials by searching the SAS Global Certified Professional Directory.

Suffice it to say, a SAS certification can pay off quickly. Couple that with an outstanding company culture, achieving a SAS credential and working for SAS is a smart career move for anyone with programming chops and a desire for longevity with a single company.

SAS careers are plentiful and vary depending on your goals and career aspirations. Some SAS careers naturally gravitate toward one or more certification categories. Some examples of common job roles by certification category include:

  • Foundation Tools: Analysts, programmers and data managers
  • Advanced Analytics: Technical analysts, statisticians and data scientists
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics: Content developers and analysts
  • Data Management: Analysts, programmers and data managers
  • Administration: Platform administrators

Regardless of your area(s) of interest, you'll find a plethora of SAS careers available.

SAS offers links to SAS classroom and eLearning courses, sample exam questions and full practice exams. Refer to the Exam Preparation tab for each certification on the SAS Certification website. Candidates can purchase certification packages that include training courses, preparation materials and exam vouchers with typical discounts of 35 to 40 percent.

SAS training can be pricey, depending on factors such as delivery method and class length.

Individual courses range from lows around $1,100 to highs of $4,000. Candidates should be sure to check out the SAS Discounts web page for information on current discount programs, best value deals, veteran's discounts and more before enrolling.

The SAS Training and Books webpage provides links to certification prep books, training courses, eLearning opportunities (SAS onDemand) and the SAS Global Academic Program. SAS also offers sample exam questions and training software may be accessed through the SAS University Edition.

Many colleges and universities, such as Philadelphia UniversityFlorida State University and the University of Missouri, to name just a few, also offer SAS certificate programs to their undergraduate and graduate students. If you're in (or thinking of going to) getting SAS certified as part of your degree program, it pays to check out your SAS certification options before choosing an institution of higher learning.

Credit: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 100 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Credit: Earl Follis

Earl Follis
Earl is also a 30-year veteran of the computer industry, who worked in IT training, marketing, technical evangelism and market analysis in the areas of networking and systems technology and management. Ed and Earl met in the late 1980s when Ed hired Earl as a trainer at an Austin-area networking company that's now part of HP. The two of them have written numerous books together on NetWare, Windows Server and other topics. Earl is also a regular writer for the computer trade press with many e-books, white papers and articles to his credit.

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