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How I Became a SAS Programmer and What It Entails

How I became a SAS programmer, what we do, and a clear path should you decide on this career.


A Software Suite

Microsoft Office is a famous example of a software suite. A suite is a package of solutions (i.e., Excel, Word, PowerPoint). 

SAS is also a software suite developed for data management, advanced analytics, business intelligence, and related areas. 

SAS Enterprise Guide

Depending on the use case, SAS provides a package of software solutions to a company. Enterprise Guide is one solution. It empowers users with no programming experience to analyze data and develop analytical insights.

import_excel_into_Enterprise Guide
“Image by [bi-notes.com] via [https://bi-notes.com/sas-enterprise-guide-import-excel/]”.

But there are limits to the point-and-click interface of SAS EG. For instance, it does not allow for flexible solutions when they are required. A SAS Programmer is needed to implement flexible solutions. And once SAS Programmer designs, implements, and validates a SAS program, the program requires frequent troubleshooting and attention. The SAS Programmer is indispensable in these circumstances.

The Primary Role

A SAS programmer’s primary role is to design, implement, and validate SAS programs to produce analysis and reports. Therefore, both programming and data analysis are fundamental components of the job. 

sas programmer working in sas enterprise guide
“Image by [Lora D. Delwiche] via [https://blogs.sas.com/content/sastraining/2018/01/15/sas-enterprise-guide-tools-for-programmers/].”

Generally speaking, a SAS programmer has numerous options for promotion or to add additional tasks to their current role. A typical promotion is that of the SAS Administrator. This step is a logical promotion as SAS Programmers gradually develop SAS software expertise over the years. This fact makes them ideal candidates to bridge the gap between SAS users and the IT department.

How to Become a SAS Programmer

The demand of SAS Programmers?

According to Indeed.com, SAS Programmers are in high demand.

the most in-demand jobs based on the increase of job postings on indeed.com

Nevertheless, my experience tells me that the demand for SAS Programmers is not simply the result of SAS Institute’s increasing business. Having taught SAS for years and been in the ‘know,’ I have a couple of observations about driving the demand.

First and foremost, SAS is proprietary software. This fact scares some people away. They assume that they have to pay to learn SAS. Why do that when Python is free?

Except, learning SAS costs no money.

SAS OnDemand for Academics is free of charge for students, independent learners, and professors.

In addition, with Python currently being the most popular language for data analysis and data science, some people assume some languages are on their way out. 

Yes, Python is the most popular, but we cannot ignore that SAS dominates particular markets. SAS dominates the Advanced Analytics market, Fortune 100/200 companies, and the SAS business model makes it very difficult or unattractive for companies to stop using SAS. People have been predicting the demise of SAS for at least 20 years now. In my view, these individuals will continue to be mistaken.

What is the Path To Follow?

My path was somewhat unique. I got introduced to SAS during University and kept learning after graduating.

Teaching was a passion of mine from a young age. I was super fortunate to receive fantastic feedback from my peers about my ability to explain concepts clearly.

This positive feedback led to a passion project. I decided to create a SAS Programming course and post it online. It became a hit pretty quickly. Soon after, I decided to start a business and consult for those in need of help with a work project.

If you want to learn how to make a living as a SAS Programmer, I encourage you to access the front page for my free workshop on how to become a data analyst/data scientist (as the process for everyone is the same).

SAS Programmer Salary

As of Apr 11, 2021, the average annual pay for a SAS Programmer in the United States is $103,353 a year, according to Ziprecruiter.com ( SAS Programmer Average Salary).

SAS is highly-utilized in the United States, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and some parts of the European Union. In the United States, California has a lot of opportunities, including in cities like Santa Clara, San Francisco, Fremont, San Jose, Oakland, Sunnyvale, and Santa Maria. Nevertheless, options are available throughout the United States, including North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Arkansas, and other states.


Ermin is the founder of mydatacareer.com, an online platform that provides training programs such as the ‘On Point Data Science Bootcamp.’ Ermin is also a data science instructor and entrepreneur. Ermin’s courses are part of Udemy for Business, an exclusive catalog of high-quality courses utilized by some of the biggest companies in the world. PCMAG has also featured his courses.




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