Undoubtedly, SAS skills are just like a passport to enter the promising World of Analytics. With almost twice the market share in the rapidly expanding analytics field, the importance of SAS skills can never be overemphasized. However, we feel that the importance of Base SAS certificate is slightly over hyped.
First, let us actually understand more about Base SAS certification. The Base SAS Certification Program was launched by SAS Institute Inc., in addition to other programs, in 1999 to recognize users who have good understanding of basics of SAS software. The Base SAS certification is based on 110 minutes exam, which includes 64 multiple-choice and short-answer questions. This certification is ideal for people who are relatively new to SAS and Analytics. This exam hence tests Base SAS concepts related to data import/ export/, data manipulations, basic programming, reporting, summary analysis etc.
Now let us see how professionals perceives it:
- Most of the consultants/ tenured analysts are not SAS certified and believes SAS certification is an indication of how well you have memorized SAS facts rather than how well you use good programming methodology.
- In contrast, most certified programmers felt the certification demonstrates SAS competency across a broad range of topics. In particular all programmers (junior and experienced), who took the SAS Base or SAS Advanced e-learning courses prior to their exam, indicated that these courses enabled them to gain new skills and concepts that they would not have otherwise learned in their current job.
- Most of the managers indicated that it has little influence on their choice of candidate when hiring for a new position. However, in general most agreed that hands-on experience and understanding of practical application was all the more important. ‘SAS certification alone is unlikely to tip the scale’. In general, the feedback indicated that SAS certification has made some impact in the workforce but not much.
Most of AnalytixLabs team members, who have first hand recruitment experience during their corporate tenure, feel that Base SAS Certification is helpful to only certain extent i.e. for first round of profile shortlisting. And what really matters is how well a candidate performs in the interviews and exhibits practical knowledge. This exam is very conceptual in nature and one can clear it even without actually working on SAS. A major concern from employers that I would like to highlight here is that in certification you are not presented with a business problem and asked to solve it, therefore it does not allow you to measure an employee’s ability to analyze and solve a real world business problem, where ‘rubber meets the road’. Moreover, most companies have their own SAS test which they give to candidates at interview, and most managers felt this provides a more appropriate assessment of the candidate’s technical ability for a particular position.
At AnalytixLabs, we recommend SAS certification to only 30-40% of our candidates, based on their profile and experience. In fact, every now and then, we get candidates who already have SAS certificate but they are unable to find a suitable job based on it and want to undergo a more meaningful hands-on training. Unfortunately, certain institutes keep promoting SAS certification just to en-cash the popularity of SAS, while they fail to impart any practical analytics skills to the candidates. We would suggest that candidates should take a well informed decision when it comes to investing their time and money into SAS certification and training.