How Do I Become an SAS Programmer?

Research what it takes to become an SAS programmer. Learn about education required, certifications available and salary potential to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a SAS Programmer Do?

SAS programmers use specialized statistical software to manage and analyze data for businesses. They are able to perform many tasks related to computer data, such as import and export raw data, combine sets of SAS data, create reports using SAS procedures, and correct errors of programming and syntax. SAS certification is helpful for widening one's career scope, and the ability to use the latest version of SAS is often a must.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree; bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Information systems; computer programming
Key Responsibilities Design, manage and retrieve data for specific business needs
Certification Several certifications offered through SAS Institute, Inc.
Job Growth (2014-2024) -8%* (all computer programmers)
Median Salary (2017) $77,125**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What is a SAS Programmer?

As a SAS programmer, you design, implement and maintain computer programs using Statistical Analysis System (SAS) software from SAS Institute Inc. Specific duties you may be asked to perform include designing data warehouses, managing and retrieving information, analyzing statistics, developing applications, researching specific business projects and forecasting business using analytical tools.

Some businesses might hire you as a SAS programmer to work specifically with SAS software. Other companies might hire you to work as a more general information technology, human resources or financial management professional who is also familiar with SAS programming.

What Education Do I Need?

If you are interested in becoming a SAS programmer, you might consider completing an associate's or bachelor's degree program in information systems or computer programming. Such a degree program provides a foundational understanding of computer operating systems and programming languages.

If you are interested in becoming a SAS programmer in a particular field, you might consider enrolling in a specialized certificate program. For example, some schools offer certificate programs in SAS programming for the pharmaceutical industry or for human resources management.

Once you have knowledge of computer programming and SAS, you might consider earning certification from SAS. The company offers both a Certified Base Programmer and a Certified Advanced Programmer designation for its SAS products. In order to earn certification, you must pass an examination proving that you can manage SAS software to manipulate data, transport raw data files, create summary reports using SAS procedures and combine SAS data sets.

Where Could I Find a Job in the Field?

SAS programmers may find work managing and analyzing data sources in several industries. Some of these include health care providers, financial institutions and recruiting, staffing and pharmaceutical companies. Any type of organization that handles large volumes of data might hire you as a SAS programmer. You might then move into other positions, such as a senior statistician, statistical analyst, SAS consultant, SAS specialist or data manager.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to, SAS programmers earned between $51,900-$114,692 in Jan. 2017, with the median salary being $77,125. Some of the highest paying states for computer programmers as a whole include Washington, New Mexico and Alaska, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you like programming with SAS, you might find a career as a software quality assurance engineer or a software application developer interesting. A software quality assurance engineer performs tasks like designing test plans, documenting software defects, and doing product design reviews. A four-year degree is required for most jobs in this occupation. A software application developer designs apps for smartphones, but they also can modify existing apps, manipulate data for analysis purposes, as well as analyze the needs of consumers. They usually need at least a bachelor's degree to be competitive on the job market.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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