Becoming a SAP Analyst: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an SAP analyst career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if becoming an SAP analyst is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a SAP Analyst Career

An SAP (Systems Applications and Products) analyst is a computer systems analyst who designs and implements the SAP business systems products used by today's global organizations. Check out some pros and cons of an SAP analyst career to decide if it's right for you.

Pros of a SAP Analyst Career
High pay (mean annual wage of about $87,000 as of May 2014)*
Much faster than average job growth due to increased use of technology (25% expected increase from 2012 through 2022)*
Job opportunities in many industries in which information systems are used (healthcare, finance, government, insurance, computer systems design)*
Can work as a consultant or be self-employed*

Cons of a SAP Analyst Career
Workweek may be longer than 40 hours*
Significant travel required for consultants*
Technological advances require continuing education to stay competitive*
Training in specific business systems is usually necessary*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description

SAP analysts help businesses meet their particular needs, which could be related to customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, human capital management, supply chain management, financial management and more. Your duties would involve performing requirements analyses on SAP applications then deciding whether modifications should be made to enhance an existing application or if a new application should be implemented. When analyzing requirements, you may seek the input from technical project teams, management and functional area employees. If you work as a consultant, you'll usually travel to implementation sites to perform these tasks.

Analysts may assist in programming customized applications, as well as in the installation, configuration and maintenance of these applications. Due to the importance of these applications to business functions, long hours may be needed if there's a technical issue. Before an application is implemented in the organization, various tests are run to look for issues in performance or functionality. SAP analysts may also create extensive documentation, write reports and train users.

Career Prospects and Salary Information

SAP analysts are part of the BLS's occupations category for computer systems analysts. Faster-than-average job growth of 25% is projected from 2012-2022, especially in the fields of healthcare and IT consulting. Analysts who work in the computer systems design industry should see an even higher growth of 35%. A business background and field-specific skills may improve job prospects, according to the BLS. Location may also play a factor in finding a job; Delaware, Virginia, Washington, Arizona and Maryland have the highest concentrations of jobs in the field.

In May 2014, computer systems analysts earned a mean annual wage of $87,320, but earnings varied by location and work setting. The highest annual mean wages were found in the District of Columbia at $102,680, followed by Virginia, New Jersey, Washington and Colorado, ranging from $97,590-$95,320. The lowest average salaries were between $63,100-$67,090 and were found in Wyoming, Louisiana and Mississippi. Some industries with the highest wages included mining and securities trading.

What Are the Requirements?

Most positions require a bachelor's degree, systems analysis skills and business knowledge. Employers may prefer majors that focus on both technology and business, such as management of information systems. Other education paths you could take include earning a computer science or engineering degree that includes some business courses as electives. Alternatively, you can consider some technical courses as part of a finance or business program. Additional training may be needed to gain the skills needed to manage specific SAP applications, as well as to maintain your current skills. You'll also need to be able to manage projects and do some programming.

Solid problem-solving skills are required for performing requirements analysis, determining upgrades for applications and resolving technical issues. Your communication skills will need to be strong for consulting, working with other employees, writing documents and training users. You must also be able to act as a leader for projects and delegate tasks appropriately.

What Do Employers Look for?

Since there are SAP applications for different business processes, companies typically look for expertise in applications related to a specific business area, such as human resources, materials management, finance or sales. In addition to a relevant degree, companies also look for candidates who have years of experience working the business area related to the specific SAP applications. The following list summarizes some job postings for SAP analysts found via online job boards in April 2012:

  • An energy company in Oklahoma was looking for an SAP technical analyst to support its human resources and payroll functions. The candidate needed a bachelor's degree, at least two years of experience working with SAP business applications, programming experience and familiarity with SAP Human Capital Management (HCM). The company preferred candidates who have experience with Unix, Electronic Data Interface (EDI) technologies, Adobe Forms, payroll tax reporting and NetWeaver Developer Studio.
  • An Arkansas manufacturing company advertised for a SAP HCM analyst to maintain its human resources modules. The candidate needed to know how to manage projects and to have at least two years of experience with SAP HCM, which includes experience in online recruiting, performance management and online learning. The company preferred candidates who can train others and who have experience in human resources information systems.
  • An Ohio electric company was seeking an SAP analyst specialized in sales and distribution systems. The candidate needed at least ten years of experience and a bachelor's degree related to computers, engineering or business. Specific experience was needed in SAP Sales and Distribution (SD), and the company preferred knowledge of SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
  • An agricultural manufacturing company in Florida was looking for an SAP Materials Management (MM) analyst with a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience in manufacturing. The candidate also needed to be familiar with SAP Production Planning (PP) and SAP Quality Management (QM), as well as know how to configure these applications.

How Can I Stand out?

Per online job postings, work experience is a key to standing out for SAP analyst positions, especially if the work experience is in a specific business area, such as manufacturing, finance or human resources. You can also get an edge by acquiring some related technical skills. This includes being skilled in application development suites, data management and enterprise operating systems. Some particular technologies you can consider learning are:

  • SAP WebDynpro
  • Enterprise Portal
  • SAP Query/Infosets
  • Netweaver Developer Studio
  • Adobe Forms

Get Certified

Becoming proficient in a specific SAP application is a solid way to beat some of the competition. SAP offers training and certifications for professionals who want to prove their competency in its programs. Certifications are available at the associate and professional levels, and you can concentrate in a specific area of applications, technology or development.

A curriculum of online and classroom courses are available to prepare you for certifications; topics cover enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, product lifecycle management, supply chain management and business intelligence. Although the organization recommends training for those without significant experience, it is not a requirement for taking a certification exam.

Alternative Career Paths

Information Systems Manager

If you want to help a company reach its technological goals but desire even higher wages, consider a career as an information systems manager. Like SAP analysts, they determine how to use information systems to improve business processes. You would often lead the technical personnel who carry out assigned projects, but carrying our projects yourself is also part of the duties. A bachelor's degree in management information systems or computer science is usually required, as well as at least a few years of experience in information technology.

Per the BLS, information systems managers were projected to experience an 18% job growth, an average rate, from 2010-2020. According to the BLS's May 2011 national salary estimates, these professionals earned a mean annual wage of about $126,000, which was significantly higher than an SAP analyst's salary.

Software Developer

If you know if want to work with computers but you'd rather specialize in creating the various applications businesses use, a software developer career might be a suitable alternative. Software developers plan the application's various parts and may do the programming themselves or turn these tasks over to programmers. You could specialize in creating desktop computer applications, databases or Internet applications, or you could design operating systems. Some requirements for this career include a strong programming background, industry work experience and a degree related to computers.

Job growth for software developers was expected to increase 30% from 2010-2020, which is a much faster than average rate, as reported by the BLS. The BLS's May 2011 salary estimates showed that the mean annual wage for applications developers was $92,000 and for systems software developers was $100,000.

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Full Sail University

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Georgetown University

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Keiser University

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Northcentral University

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Herzing University

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University of Delaware

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Colorado State University Global

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