I'm happy to report that I have achieved my SAS Certified Base Programmer credential. w00t!. I took my first SAS programming course on March 10th and passed my exam on June 18th (so I guess a more accurate title would say 3 months and 8 days!).
I thought I would share a couple notes from my experience. But first, I should point out that there are other great perspectives on certification preparation techniques. First, there is 10 year SAS programming vet Gongwei Chen's SAS Global Forum paper describing his 4 months of preparation for Base and Advanced SAS programming credentials. There is also the PROC CERTIFY project from SAS Publishing employees Stacey Hamilton and Christine Kjellberg, two self-affirmed non-techies tackling certification with the assistance of SAS Publishing books such as the Certification Prep Guide.
So, what's my background? I have a degree in engineering. I'm a veteran of the telecom industry with more than a dozen years spent in network engineering and technical education. I've achieved data networking certification in the form of Cisco's CCNA. I consider myself a techie, dabbling in computers, web, and database technologies. I'm not a programmer, but I have programmed, learning FORTRAN in college and then C and VBA afterward. So in terms of technical/SAS background, I guess I'm somewhere on the continuum between Gongwei on one side and Stacey and Christine on the other.
Why did I seek SAS certification? Two reasons. First, I'm new to SAS and, being a bit of a techie, really wanted to learn SAS programming. Second, I work on the certification team here at SAS and wanted to experience SAS certification first hand. Ethically, I would have to do this quickly so that I achieved my certification before I did any work on the Base Programming exam. Wouldn't really be fair to see the exam before taking the exam, now would it?
How did I prepare? Although I am a long-time fan of self-paced learning, I thought I would do something different this time and give classroom training a try. Specifically, I took the Programming 1 and Programming 2 courses, did a bunch of studying, wrote a bunch of programs, and then used the Certification e-Practice exam to ensure that I was ready to sit for the exam. These component courses may also be available to you at a discount via a Best Value Bundle, depending on your location.
Who do I think can benefit from my perspective? Maybe you would like to make a career change and take advantage of the 1000+ SAS related job postings on the major job boards. Maybe you already work with SAS code and would like to become more efficient with your coding time and gain some recognition of your SAS programming skills. Or maybe you just got your first SAS programming job and need to ramp-up quickly.
In my next post, I'll share more specifics about how I studied and prepared for the exam. I hope you will find my perspective helpful.