Skills needed by a good SAS programmer apart from programming

You have a certificate from SAS saying you can program, and you have been offered a job as a SAS programmer. Well done! So what happens now?

Hopefully your new employer will arrange for SAS training for you, and then you’ll be given a computer to run your SAS programs on. If you are lucky you’ll be in a team of SAS programmers where some are experienced enough to assist you. However, your team may only include inexperienced programmers like yourself, so how do you get answers to your questions?

Do:
(1) Research: Search Google for possible answers to your questions. This may produce links to http://support.sas.com or http://www.lexjansen.com, so try these links first.
(2) Experiment: Try out these suggestions to see which work for your situation.
(3) Discuss: Talk about these solutions with your colleagues.

Do not:
(1) Delegate: Post vague questions on forums in the hope that someone will write your program for you. You will never improve your skills by using someone else to do it for you.
(2) Break copyright: Post any company data on the web or in external emails.
(3) Reveal: Ask questions on the web which may reveal confidential information about your employers or clients. It is also recommended that you never post your email address or phone number either, because they could be used to spam you, or even to spam others looking as if you are doing it.

Once you have a working SAS program, and this may take a while to achieve, remember to re-visit it regularly with a view to improving it using knowledge you’ve gained over time. No program is ever perfect, but your aim should be to approach perfection with each amendment.

So how do you gain SAS knowledge? The SAS certification questions and answers cover only a tiny fraction of what SAS can do. The temptation is to stick to what you know, but this will never allow you to improve your SAS programming, so read the SAS blogs, SAS-related forums and SAS conference papers regularly, and then try out the new techniques to learn new stuff all the time. This should never end. I’ve been using SAS since 1981 and I’m still learning new stuff about SAS every day!

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