SAS User Support Analysis (Expert Level)
A skillful career move
University of Missouri primes students for marketing analytics careers
SAS® skills are in demand. One need only query a job search site for positions requiring SAS programming skills to generate hundreds of job postings at leading organizations, across a variety of industries. So hungry are private and public sector organizations for skilled SAS users that one US university is offering SAS Certification and MBA-level analytics courses to help meet the market's growing demand for proficient SAS knowledge workers.
"SAS is the only game in town if you're interested in working with analytics at FORTUNE 500 companies, the government or large research institutions."
The only game in town
"SAS is the only game in town if you're interested in working with analytics at FORTUNE 500® companies, the government or large research institutions," says Ray Bacon, an expert-level SAS User Support Analyst in the Social Science Statistics Center at the University of Missouri, who also teaches SAS Certification courses each semester. "SAS is embraced by those types of institutions, and having a SAS Certification under your belt can be a really big advantage; many former students say that being SAS-certified made the crucial difference in being hired. And if you doubt that SAS is a job skill in demand, do research on Monster.com – they have to cap the results at 2,000."
Bacon, who has used SAS for 15 years at the university, and currently supports more than 1,700 users, says he has made it his singular mission during his career to make statistical software accessible to every member of the University of Missouri. And this meant implementing an intensive, eight-day SAS Certification course to help any SAS user become self-sufficient – student and professor alike. Furthermore, says Bacon, students have been able to parlay their SAS skills into jobs using the software.
Self-supportive SAS users
"People are more self-supportive," he explains. "In the past, professors needed us to come in and do short courses. Now they provide instruction for the software in their classes themselves, and the level of assignments students receive are getting more elaborate. Our mission has been to help anyone who wanted to use the software to get the support they needed, and to help students find employment using their SAS skills. The SAS Certification training has been very successful in doing that. We also want to help Missouri employers acquire students that have the analytics skillset necessary to help them compete on a global basis. In a way we are helping to foster economic development in the state."
Skills in high demand
To further address the growing need for analytics skills in the work force, the university's Trulaske College of Business recently introduced MBA-level analytics courses for its marketing program, with the curriculum designed with input from executives at leading organizations.
"There are lots of companies out there sitting on a lot of data and not making full use of it," says Ratti Ratneshwar, Professor of Marketing and Marketing Department Chair at the Trulaske College of Business. "They're reaching out to us for students who can help them extract the information they need to support their business decisions.
The MBA degree that students attain helps them with their long-term career growth, but in terms of where they might want to start, the analytics courses provide them with somewhere to start – and that opportunity is only getting bigger."
“Since more than 90 percent of the FORTUNE 100® companies use software like SAS to manage and analyze huge data volumes to forecast their business, having analytical marketing skills can definitely make students more marketable,” says Chloe Chan, a Trulaske College of Business MBA program graduate, who is employed full-time and using SAS on a daily basis. “Marketing is no longer just about creating catchy commercials; it’s now backed by a lot of data analysis, which supports the direction of the business. Analytical marketing skills are very much a requirement in business today.”
The MBA and analytics advantage
So why are people with MBA degrees in such demand for jobs that some might say are more suitable for a statistician? According to Ratneshwar, companies today need both.
"Nearly every company we talked to said they prefer not to have pure statisticians for these jobs, because the pure statisticians don't always understand the business problems that they're trying to solve, and it takes too much training to educate them as to what the issues are," he explains. "Companies increasingly want MBA students who can hit the ground running and be productive very rapidly. It's important that we produce MBA students who can actually do some of the hands-on analytical work, as soon as they join an organization. Often, they will be on a team that has expert statisticians who can perform the in-depth technical work, while the MBA with the analytical skills and business knowledge provides the day-to-day support for the line managers of an organization."
"Most of the companies that we talked to, especially the ones with vast amounts of data, recommended that we adopt SAS," Ratneshwar explains. "Many professors also use SAS in their research and therefore are well-conversant in it. Such factors led to our decision to make SAS the tool of choice for our analytics courses."
“The thing that really sets SAS apart is how well it supports its users,” concludes Bacon. “SAS really bends over backwards. From sales to technical support to user groups, it supports its customers like no other company I’ve ever seen.”
Needed a solution to make statistical software accessible to every member of the university, help users become more self-sufficient, and help students to parlay their analytics skills into job opportunities.
The University of Missouri provides students with in-demand analytics skills and SAS Certification. This academic program helps university faculty, staff and students become self-sufficient using SAS, as well as helping to foster economic development in the state of Missouri. This solution helps to strategically produce MBA students who can support the work of business line managers.