Freelance IT engineer: How to become a freelancer without SAS programmer experience, work, career change, qualifications


Can a SAS programmer be successful even without experience? Is it possible to search for job information and get hired? I am writing an article about the information. SAS programmers are very niche and not many people know about their existence, so it’s true that many people don’t know about them. However, it is possible to become a freelancer even if you are a programmer in a very niche field. So how can someone without SAS experience become a freelancer?

What is SAS? What kind of programming language is it?

SAS is an abbreviation for Statistical Analysis System, and this system is statistical software developed by an American company called SAS Institute. SAS was originally used as analysis software, but as demand for it has emerged commercially and in various industries, it has come to be used for system development as well.

Nowadays, it is used not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in the finance, insurance, communications, distribution, and internet industries, and is now being used not only for data analysis but also for system development. If you want to work with SAS, you should first consult with an agent.

There aren’t that many programmers.

As you can see from the above, there are not many programmers. As I will explain below, the number of companies that have introduced this SAS is limited to a certain extent. There are very few companies that have introduced SAS as part of their education and training system. In addition, there are few companies that provide allowances for qualifications, so there are few companies that reflect the qualifications in their salaries. As a full-time employee, your annual salary will be around 4 million, 4.5 million, or 5 million yen, depending on your age and experience, but if you become a freelancer, you can earn 1.5 to 2 times more, so you can aim for around 9 million yen.

There are also fewer job openings

When looking for jobs, it is better to understand that while the various benefits and average monthly and hourly wages are better than jobs in sales, sales, and part-time jobs, there are fewer job openings. However, demand is high in some industries, and there are cases where positions are posted on an urgent basis, so the period and timing are important. Even if you have no design or big data experience, you will be hired even if you leave a blank. The reason is that the number of engineers is small. In contrast, there are cases in pharmaceuticals where knowledge of CDISC is required in the field of biostatistics.

Starting with hiring employees rather than freelancers

SAS is niche compared to other SE, PG, and maintenance jobs in Java and PHP. To begin your career, it is wise to work as an employee and gain experience. I have over 10 years of SAS experience and made a similar choice. The work area is either Tokyo (Chuo-ku, Minato-ku, Koto-ku, Chiyoda-ku) or Osaka, so commuting is easy and you can walk from the nearest station. As an employee, you don’t have free time to work; you have fixed working hours. If you are a full-time employee, you will often receive bonuses, raises, and retirement benefits.

Overtime hours are not that much

In the case of SAS, as I will explain below, the industry is a little different from IT, so the overtime work is about 20 hours at most. Many companies accept shorter working hours, so you can take plenty of vacations throughout the year. Clothes vary depending on the company, but some places are completely ok with business casual since you will be working in an office. There are many global foreign companies, so English is also used in their work. Also, the work is not one-off or short-term, but long-term, over a year, so the point is that the income is more stable.

Welfare benefits also tend to be good.

SAS programmers tend to work at medical-related companies where there are a relatively large number of women, and as you can see from the interviews, there are various benefits available. We have ample childcare and maternity leave. This is because many companies are based in the Kanto or Kansai regions, so they are relatively strong. There are no transfers.

Where can I learn SAS? What industry is it used in?

If you study SAS on your own, you can probably do it at home, but if you actually want to hone your practical experience, what industry can you learn it in? If you change a few keywords and search, you’ll see a lot of results. The main areas are finance, insurance, and pharmaceuticals. And to know SAS, you must learn programming before data analysis. In that case, I would prefer a workplace where you can constantly interact with SAS. In this case, the pharmaceutical industry is the most recommended. There are many job openings that say it’s OK even if you don’t have the skills as long as you learn.

Statistical analysis work and data management

CROs and pharmaceutical companies have statistical analysis and data management departments, where SAS is in high demand. Specifically, SAS is used when using statistical methods. In addition to statistics, there is also a large amount of programming involved, and SAS is also used when creating ADAM data sets and aggregation programs for analysis forms. It’s quite a maniacal job, so it may be difficult to get used to it from the start.

The work content is very academic.

At CROs and pharmaceutical companies, the work involves developing new drugs, so the overall work is very maniacal. I’m involved in the safety and effectiveness of commercially available drugs and new drugs, so when I look at the analysis forms, I see a lot of difficult-looking statements. However, if you remember it, you will become specialized and will not be overwhelmed. In terms of skills, it would be best to be able to use office software or VBA as it will partially work with ACCESS etc.

Why the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The following are the reasons why the pharmaceutical industry is recommended for those without SAS experience. When creating a program, it is a good idea to keep the following points in mind: In the pharmaceutical industry, more and more companies are using SAS services every day. In terms of work, demand is increasing just as much as English. SAS technicians are welcome.

High use of SAS

The pharmaceutical industry uses SAS very frequently. SAS will be used in the data management department and statistical analysis department. Both companies do not only analyze data, but also develop and create tools. Therefore, it can be said that the environment is conducive to learning various things. In many cases, SAS is specified in project details, business procedure documents, etc.

not much overtime

The pharmaceutical industry is not a black industry like IT. In IT, I often had to work overtime late at night and sleep over. Although the situation has calmed down now, there are still many companies that are in a state of moral collapse. Compared to that, there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry who have better dignity, and the environment is not one where they are forced to work hard, so it is possible to work there for a long time. Let’s register on job change and freelance sites such as the web. Demand is increasing in Tokyo.

high demand

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are pharmaceutical manufacturers and CRO companies, and if both are in the data management or statistical analysis department, SAS is in extremely high demand. Therefore, if you have programming experience, even those without SAS experience have a chance to get into it. There are many people who are active as support personnel or dispatched personnel, regardless of industry experience. Basically, I handle clinical trials and medical data. If you have technical experience, you can succeed. Let’s apply for a job.

How can someone without SAS experience get into the pharmaceutical industry?

Many people with no experience in SAS are likely to have no experience in the pharmaceutical industry. So how do you get into the pharmaceutical industry in the first place? The problem arises. The best way to do this is to do the following: Remote work is becoming more popular, and I have Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays off, so it’s pretty easy. There are many agents who will pay your transportation expenses. Major companies are also recruiting, and although many are for long periods, there are few new job openings. There are also opportunities for seniors.

Business partner is a pharmaceutical company

There are cases where you work for a company whose business partner is a pharmaceutical manufacturer. These companies generally have IT and temporary staffing businesses, and are companies that dispatch personnel. And the hurdles to getting hired are relatively low, making it easy to get a job. Consulting companies are often connected to the pharmaceutical industry. Some women also work in support roles such as assisting in creating forms and creating database specifications. There aren’t many job openings, so it depends on the timing.

contract employee

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are not many cases where inexperienced people are suddenly hired as full-time employees. Therefore, the most realistic way to start is to work as a contract employee. The number of recruitment slots for pharmaceutical companies is decreasing year by year, but if you are a CRO company, there are many opportunities to get in. I have two days off a week, am interested in pharmaceuticals, and can do most of my work if I can use EXCEL. If you have a high school diploma or higher and are familiar with clinical trial data, you will be able to work immediately.

Possibility to work independently as a SAS engineer in a few years

And it would be ideal for inexperienced people to polish their practical experience at the workplace and become independent after a few years. SAS freelancers don’t have many jobs, but they have a high rarity value, so when they find a job, they usually get hired. Also, you can aim for an annual income of around 8 million to 10 million, so it is quite delicious.

Recommended qualifications to try now

The first huge hurdle is getting adopted by a company. In order to be hired, I think it’s good to have qualifications as well as motivation. Here we introduce the recommended qualifications.

SAS Base Programming

The SAS Base Programming exam is scored from 200 to 1000, with a passing score of 725 or higher. The prerequisite for this exam is that you remember the SAS Data step and Proc step. We assume engineers who have studied SAS for a few months to half a year. At the end of the exam, you will immediately know your pass/fail and score.

The test can be taken at home or at a test center. The exam fee is 24,200 yen, so it is in a fairly expensive category, so it is better to study well before taking the exam. Sample questions are available on the SAS official website.


SAS Base Programming

Advanced Programming Professional

This is a higher qualification than Base, so it will be an exam after taking Base. This exam tests your knowledge of SQL and SAS macros. Therefore, if you can do it up to this level, you will have acquired a certain level of business-level knowledge. This exam is expected to last for at least one year of practice.

Advanced Programming Professional