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How to switch/break in - to certify or not?

Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
My background is 5 years in SAS programming and statistical data analysis.

In my ongoing job search, I have tried to find a blend of Java and SAS but the market in that type of work is embryonic. Which one would say is good in some respects, but I'm looking to completely move out of any SAS development work.

I'm not of the stat geek or statistician temperament.

Having said that, I'm trying to decide if there is a way to crossover into a junior level Java programmer/developer position.

The debate I'm having is whether to simply take the SCJP exam
(having gone through an extensive multi-month java program at Boston University - an intensive enough program that with a brief review, I could take the exam and likely pass easily.) OR wait and try to leverage my experience as a programmer to make the jump, gain some real world development experience, then take the exam.

Anyone have an advice?

How difficult or easy is the career 'path' transition?

Signed,
Christopher
(Just wants to be a programmer, darn it.)
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 25, 2004
Posts: 985
While you make a decision, start studying for SCJP. Java 2: Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exams 310-035 & 310-027) is a great book.
http://www.bookpool.com/.x/prxywgss6m/sm/0072226846

Use this book in conjunction with JavaRanch's mock exams and you will be in great shape for the exam.

Good luck!
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
How difficult or easy is the career 'path' transition?

If you are over 30 it could be nearly impossible. It might happen but there are too many people available from foreign countries with experience you cannot compete with.
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Your best bet is to take a SAS job at a major corporation with a strong internal job posting policy, take on some extra work involving Java (even just fixes or one-time programs) to gain credibility, and transfer via a job posting.

A front door Java hire is a real long shot.


Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
How about trying to work for SAS itself? You can move from SAS-based code (probably industry solutions) to core SAS development or other supporting projects. I'm sure SAS is written in a language other than SAS.

--Mark
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
Your best bet is to take a SAS job at a major corporation with a strong internal job posting policy, take on some extra work involving Java (even just fixes or one-time programs) to gain credibility, and transfer via a job posting.

A front door Java hire is a real long shot.


From personal experience working in a SAS programming environment.
SAS to Java with extra work is also incredibly unlikely.

Management views you as a 'statistician'
IT views you as an 'accountant'.

Neither side is likely to be fond of me contemplating solutions outside of SAS.
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:

If you are over 30 it could be nearly impossible. It might happen but there are too many people available from foreign countries with experience you cannot compete with.


Well, I'm at 30. Not sure if this is a good thing or not.
r phipps
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 14, 2004
Posts: 60
I feel your pain, I have been trying to make the Jump for years, i am curently preparing to take the exam myself. I think the advise of finding a fulltime job in sas and transferring in. I am currently looking for a fulltime mainframe job myself so i can do the same. Because it is not going to happen as a mainframe consultant. I worked with a couple of guys who worked fulltime where i was consulting and they were able to make the jump.
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
How about trying to work for SAS itself? You can move from SAS-based code (probably industry solutions) to core SAS development or other supporting projects. I'm sure SAS is written in a language other than SAS.

--Mark


It is. Believe they shifted over to Java as their primary language.
However, they are looking for a minimum of 5 years development in Java.

Welcome to the paradox of SAS.
Programmed in Java _and_ just now integrating Java stubs into the language to import Java objects into SAS code.

I'll refrain from calling SAS a career killer.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
It's not a killer. Nothing is a killer if you're willing to work hard enough. I know truck drivers who have become developers. I know teenage pregnant moms who have landed high paying finance jobs. I've seen people get further starting from less-it's all a matter of how hard you're willing to push yourself.

How about looking for academic staff positions--in econ or social sciences--which heavily reply on SAS. You can leverage your SAS knowledge and on the projects start to include non-SAS code to build up a portfolio.

--Mark
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
How about looking for academic staff positions--in econ or social sciences--which heavily reply on SAS. You can leverage your SAS knowledge and on the projects start to include non-SAS code to build up a portfolio.


I posted a similiar question to the one I posted here on the SAS-L.
The problem is that what SAS does well, Java doesn't.
What Java does well, SAS doesn't.

The languages are at the end of the scales. At best, I can focus on trying to integrate Java code into SAS modules, it's not a pleasant bridge to Java development. SAS/IntrNet is another bridge (in that it's a way to integrate SAS into Web Development). It's just a question of whether there are any colleges that integrate SAS with web development.
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
paraphrasing Ricky Nelson loosely

But if memories are all I can write, I'll have to drive a truck...
Homer Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 311
If you're 30, above average in height with proportionate weight and not too nerdy, you could make it if the economy holds up.

I don't know if you have an emotional attachment to java, but .net might be an easier market to sell into. IMO, it's not as mature.

HTH
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 25, 2004
Posts: 985
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
If you're 30, above average in height with proportionate weight and not too nerdy, you could make it if the economy holds up.

I don't know if you have an emotional attachment to java, but .net might be an easier market to sell into. IMO, it's not as mature.

HTH


I thought that you had to be nerdy?
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
If you're 30, above average in height with proportionate weight and not too nerdy, you could make it if the economy holds up.

I don't know if you have an emotional attachment to java, but .net might be an easier market to sell into. IMO, it's not as mature.

HTH


*laughs*

My attachment to java is based on my long term career goals.

It's quite simple .NET from all of my research is not being used in the Video Game Industry.

It's still OO (C/C++, Java is making some inroads these days).
What it's not is .NET

I really have limited options if I want to pursue the eventual goal of working at the Ubi Soft's or THQ's of the world.

If it was about money, I'd just stick with SAS and revile myself in the mornings. (Rather than revile myself with MS VB.Net)
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
I'm not a SAS person, but I would think that there are situations where non-SAS programs are needed to extract the data you need, normalize the formats, or plug the results into a database. Of course, those programs are not your job but sometimes the Java code has a bug or needs an enhancement and the Java folks are too busy or there is no budget or its 3AM and they can't reach the programmer and your boss says go ahead and try.

This is not online code - the worse that happens is your change doesn't work. After a few times, your boss finds it quicker and cheaper to let you do it. This all depends on your boss and the policies where you work, but I've seen plenty of tech support people move into programming just this way.

If this is not possible where you work now, do a few job interviews and ask the prospective manager if this is a possibility. Wih luck, you'll find someone who loves the idea.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Doing a monster search there are SAS/Java jobs out there, granted, it's fewer than the 177 the search returned, because many just list SAS along with other languages. What about consulting? The major IT consulting firms need deep expertise in areas, including SAS. You could then talk about acquiring other programming skills.

You should also check out SAS partners.

--Mark
r phipps
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 14, 2004
Posts: 60
I wouldn't call SAS a killer, but i woundn't want it to be all i had, but there have several times over the last few years that i could have gotten a good paying contract if i had onnly had SAS. Seems it used heavly in the BIOTECH field.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
well u can go get a master degree in statistics(MSc)


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by r phipps:
I wouldn't call SAS a killer, but i woundn't want it to be all i had, but there have several times over the last few years that i could have gotten a good paying contract if i had onnly had SAS. Seems it used heavly in the BIOTECH field.


True, it's a fairly extensive application used in the BioTech field.

However, as I said -
My long term career goal is to move over and into the Game Industry.
SAS is not used there, save for the limited marketing positions, if that.

In some ways, Java is serving as a stepping stone / transitional phase, to
move into the industry, and move up to the career path I wish to pursue.
Christopher Amherst
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Posts: 11
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
What about consulting? The major IT consulting firms need deep expertise in areas, including SAS. You could then talk about acquiring other programming skills.


It's a another path worth considering, though it may be one that can only be reviewed 5 years down the line if I'm still stuck in SAS. (my years of experience with SAS have only just hit 5 years)

There is one thing that I think has been missing in the discussion which is:
My degree is Computer Science.

I have no interest in Statistics as a career path or a way to jump in the next X years into the industry that I want to be in.

SAS to me is only going to be a backup/security blanket in down times.

It's not something I like but it is something I can do well and effectively.
 
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