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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 popular 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 other 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 required for this task. And once a 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

The primary role of a SAS Programmer 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 common promotion or an additional task assigned is that of the SAS Administrator. This is a logical promotion as SAS Programmers gradually develop SAS software expertise over the years. This 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 increasing business. Having taught SAS for years, and been in the ‘know’, I have a couple observations about what is driving the demand.

First and foremost, SAS is a proprietary software. This 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 the fact that SAS dominates particular markets (Advanced Analytics), that it dominates among Fortune 100/200 companies (very large companies), and that 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 amazing feedback from my peers about my ability to explain concepts clearly.

This lead 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 offer consulting 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 my eBook below.


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


Ermin is the founder of mydatacareer.com, an online platform that provides video courses in the data science space. 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. His courses have also been featured in the popular magazine, PCMAG.



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