SAS and Microsoft Certifications for Data Scientists


There are numerous reasons why a data scientist would be interested in a SAS or Microsoft professional certification. First, it is a great way to pick up a new skill or even improve an existing skill. Certifications can help with professional and career development. And now, you can even take certification exams from the comfort of your own home. I’ve had the opportunity to earn several SAS and Microsoft certifications, so in today’s article, I want to share my thoughts around each one to help you decide which is right for you!

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

If you are new to the cloud or Azure, the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification is a great place start. This exam focuses on foundational cloud knowledge and Azure services. While the exam is not specific to data science and machine learning, it does provide a good foundation of knowledge before jumping into the Azure Data Science Associate certification.

Microsoft offers two options to prepare for a certification exam: self-paced free online learning paths or paid instructor-led courses. I personally learn best in an instructor-led course, but I found that the six online learning paths were very helpful for this exam.


Azure Fundamentals Learning Paths

Azure Data Science Associate

The Azure Data Science Associate Certification focuses primarily on using Azure Machine Learning to build data science solutions. Previous knowledge around Azure fundamentals, compute concepts, and Python are very helpful. For this exam, I attended the instructor-led course, but there are free learning paths available as well.

Azure Data Science Associate Learning Paths

The materials for the instructor-led course included a booklet and a collection of Jupyter notebooks. I found that these materials were incredibly helpful for this exam! I learn best through experience, so to prepare for this exam, I used my free Azure trial to recreate the examples from the booklet and notebooks. Overall, I learned a lot about Azure Machine Learning from this course and exam.

SAS AI and Machine Learning Professional

The SAS AI and Machine Learning Professional Certification actually consists of three certifications: Machine Learning Specialist, Natural Language and Computer Vision Specialist, and Forecasting and Optimization Specialist.

SAS AI and ML Certifications

I found it much easier to focus on only one exam at a time instead of having to study all five subjects at once. The three exams break down into five associated courses, with each course devoted to one subject. Each course includes its own booklet with examples and access to SAS Viya software during the course. A lot of my work centers around machine learning and text analytics. Regardless, I was able to learn a few new tricks in those courses. I also found the optimization course fascinating and I am constantly on the lookout for places in my day-to-day work where I can implement optimization to solve problems. I don’t utilize each of these techniques regularly, but it was still helpful to gain an understanding of what’s possible. Overall, I found this certification very helpful to learn more about data science on SAS Viya.

SAS Base Programming

If you’re comfortable programming in SAS or want to learn more, then the SAS Base Programming Specialist certification is for you. For this exam, I followed along with the e-learning courses for programming essentials and data manipulation techniques as well as studied using the prep guide. For this certification, practice is incredibly important! I highly suggest working through the examples if you are new to SAS programming. Having never programming in SAS before starting the e-learning, I learned more than enough to get started.

If you are a student, you can get access to free online courses and exam discounts through SAS for Students. Additionally, new users can find a lot of helpful information in the SAS Starter Kit.


There are clear benefits to SAS and Microsoft certifications. These benefits include learning new skills to apply to your work today or preparing for your future career. If you found this article useful, please let me know in the comments what certification is most interesting to you? And what certifications have I missed?


About Author

Sophia Rowland

Product Manager | SAS Model Manager

Sophia Rowland is a Senior Product Manager focusing on ModelOps and MLOps at SAS. In her previous role as a data scientist, Sophia worked with dozens of organizations to solve a variety of problems using analytics. As an active speaker and writer, Sophia has spoken at events like All Things Open, SAS Explore, and SAS Innovate as well as written dozens of blogs and articles. As a staunch North Carolinian, Sophia holds degrees from both UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke including bachelor’s degrees in computer science and psychology and a Master of Science in Quantitative Management: Business Analytics from the Fuqua School of Business. Outside of work, Sophia enjoys reading an eclectic assortment of books, hiking throughout North Carolina, and staying upright while ice skating.

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