SAS analytics know-how tops the list of most valuable career skills, says a study by Money magazine and Payscale.com. The announcement made headlines in May.
This wasn’t news for Aran Canes, an analytic consultant at Cigna. As a SAS Certified professional, the study confirmed what he already knew: Being a certified SAS user is the ticket to interesting, lucrative work.
In this interview with SAS’ Maggie Miller, he describes his journey to becoming SAS Certifed, from his first job as a new physics graduate to his most recent career move.
When and why did you first use SAS?
I was a physics major in college and was able to leverage the math I learned into landing a job at an economics consulting firm. I was handed the “Little SAS Book” on one of my first days and began learning introductory SAS.
Later in my career I was hired by the Economic Analysis Group of the Department of Justice who paid for seven different SAS training sessions at the Rockville, MD SAS office. I thought of myself as a SAS expert at the DOJ until I got hired as a SAS programmer.
Is this your first SAS Certification?
No, certification as a SAS statistical analyst is my third certification. Like I indicated in the first answer, I thought of myself as a SAS expert until I started working alongside people who had been programming in SAS 10+ years whose ability amazed me. This convinced me that I really needed to buy the SAS Certification manuals and obtain Base and Advanced programming certification.
After several years of working as a SAS coder and manager of SAS coders I discovered that SAS was offering a SAS business analyst certification. Since I have a master’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland I thought this was a good opportunity to learn how to translate all the econometrics I learned into SAS code. (We were taught a lot of theoretical statistics but not how to program in any of the statistical software packages).
Why did you decide to get SAS certified?
Obtaining the SAS business analyst certification allowed me to transition from being a SAS programmer to a SAS data scientist. First I got hired to work in the Pennsylvania Medicaid office where I used SAS analytics to try to improve the quality of care for Medicaid recipients. Currently, I’m working at Cigna as a Sr. Analytic Consultant working to improve the overall health and well-being of our pharmacy customers.
What are some of the resources you used to prepare for your SAS certification?
I purchased the SAS text Predictive Modeling Using Logistic Regression and the Statistics I text as well as the practice tests offered by SAS certification.
How has earning a SAS certification helped you in your career?
Immensely. I’ve presented at Predictive Analytics World on a predictive model I built for Pennsylvania Medicaid, lectured to Texas A&M graduate students on propensity score matching and logistic regression and, most of all, have a job which satisfies my intellectual curiosity as well as pays the bills for my family.
Any tips you’d share with others considering a SAS certification?
I’d recommend buying the texts and practice tests offered by SAS, devote 1-2 hours per night of studying for several months and realize that you don’t have to score 100% to be certified.
Are you planning on getting any other SAS certifications?
I would like to obtain the certification in SAS Enterprise Miner but haven’t found an employer where I would be able to work with the software.