There are many career considerations in becoming a Clinical Analyst or SAS Programmer that is analogous to getting married. Before you make such a commitment, you like to learn and see if you are compatible and if this is a good fit. If you are already in a “marriage”, or a SAS programmer, there are some efforts that are required to maintain and keep up the health of the relationship. The current employment environment for SAS programmers poses many challenges. If you do not continuously learn and adapt to the dynamic environment, you will find your job outsourced or your skill set irrelevant. There are several forces that you need to be aware of which this chapter will expand upon to provide strategies for you to become successful. For example, there are new regulatory changes such as data standards from CDISC that requires thorough understanding and experience with implementation. Software enhancements with new releases of SAS and additional technologies such as operating systems and hardware updates can enhance your capabilities, but they also require training and retooling. Global market forces with increasing use of off shore talent means that you are competing globally rather just with your peers within your own local geographic region. Understanding your talents and knowing you own set of skills drive what you should focus on in light of all these external forces.
Your initial response after learning all the challenges and seeing the uphill struggles, may be to have second thoughts and cold feet. Like a marriage, it is wiser to enter into the commitment with knowledge and being informed rather than discovering it later when you have little choice in affecting the outcome. If you are already working as a Clinical SAS programmers for many years, it is a good time to revisit what has worked for you. A little effort in the maintenance or enhancing new skills as it relates to all these force of change can go a long way in ensuring your success and healthy relationship between you and your SAS programming career.
When you are starting out in a new field, how do you gain experience when the opportunity to gain experience requires experience? That is a common challenge posed to individuals new to this field of work. If you are trying to become a Clinical Analyst as a college graduate or as a seasoned analyst from financial or other industries, how do you gain industry experience when employers require three or more year’s experience? This section will describe distinct steps that you can take to address this hurdle and provide methods to gain good experience towards obtaining that initial project.
In some ways, the barrier to entry into this line of work can be a positive attribute. An example that will illustrate this compares a C++ programmer and a SAS Clinical Programmer. In the C++ example, the barrier to entry is relatively low. You can readily install Linux along with an open source compiler for C++ for free on any low-cost commodity desktop computer. There are extensive resources and training material available on the Internet and you can get up to speed in developing software within C++ with much less initial cost and therefore minimal barrier in terms of gaining skills in this technology platform. Although SAS is being delivered now to more open source operating system, it is still rather expensive to acquire and get your hands on information that would allow you to be fully versed in the many modules of SAS. This is barrier to entry is compounded when applied to clinical data since getting experience working with this type of data usually requires entrance into a large organization such as a pharmaceutical company. The SAS software itself is not open source and is architecturally closed. These barriers make it more difficult to initially access and gain experience and thus creating a smaller pool of experienced programmers and data analysts. There are other external factors, but if all things were equal, becoming a SAS programmer without experience poses more challenges. This seemingly negative barrier however function as a filter which results in a group of high quality Clinical Analyst that command higher compensation and relative less fluctuations in market demands. It may be difficult to see these benefits initially but once you have graduated from that first project and gained the experience to become a clinical analyst, you can value the good skills that you were able to gain from the initial struggle.
There are series of steps which you can take to overcome the barriers that are faced by professionals who are becoming a SAS Clinical Programmer. If you were to successfully complete the following steps, it would greatly increase the probability of obtaining a position as a Clinical Analyst.
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