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SAS Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

SAS Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths
Credit: SAS

What first began as an agricultural research project at North Carolina State University turned 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 such as Fortune and the Great Place to Work Institute. Coming in at number 15, SAS made its 20th appearance in Fortune magazine's list of 100 best companies to work for in 2017 and number two in Fortune’s list of top 100 best workplaces for millennials in 2017. 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, 94 are SAS customers. SAS customers span the globe with more than 83,000 instances installed in 149 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 14 credentials across five categories:

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

SAS also offers six additional technical certifications targeted exclusively at SAS 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).

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


Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost*

SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9

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


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


SAS Certified Clinical Trials Programmer Using SAS 9

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

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:


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)  


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


SAS Certified Predictive Modeler Using SAS Enterprise Miner 14

Predictive Modeling using SAS Enterprise Miner 14 exam


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

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


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. The three certifications in this category are:


Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified BI Content Developer for SAS 9

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


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

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


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)


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. The following list names certifications in this category:


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)


SAS Certified Data Quality Steward for SAS 9

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


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.


Required Exam(s)

Exam Cost

SAS Certified Platform Administrator for SAS 9

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


Why get SAS certified? 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 the like, average SAS programmer earnings are almost $81,038 nationally, per SimplyHired. The average earnings in SAS statistical modeling careers are almost $110,000, usually 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%.

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 a SAS certificate program to their undergraduate and graduate students. If you're in (or thinking of going to) school and are interested in SAS, check out your options.

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 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.