An interview with a SAS Programmer

The job of a SAS Programmer can be a challenging and rewarding position providing opportunities for technically minded people that would like to work within Drug Development.

Here is an interview that CK Clinical conducted with one SAS Programmer working within the Pharmaceutical industry. This is their view point on what life is like working in a SAS Programming job:

What does a SAS Programmer do?

As a SAS programmer in the pharma sector, we provide statistical programming support for the statisticians and statistical programming expertise for the company. We write programs to create statistical tables, listings, and graphs. Independently QC peer programmers’ statistical tables, listings, and graphs. Write programs to create the analysis database. Meet milestones. Provide functional guidance. Develop operating procedures.… other.

What is a typical day for a SAS Programmer involve?

As a SAS programmer, we would typically work on development of SAS code, that creates analysis datasets, tables, figures, listings, electronic submission packages, to be included in Clinical Summary Reports submissions to the Health authorities (e.g. FDA).

How did you get into SAS Programming?

I did a Maths and Biology degree, followed by a Computer Science post graduate. I took a graduate position within a Clinical Contract Research Organisation, and my role as a SAS programmer evolved from there.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a SAS Programmer?

I enjoy being part of a local and global team environment. I enjoy being a part of the drug development life cycle, and seeing a drug that I have worked on becoming available on the market.

What is the hardest part of your SAS Programming job?

Dealing with differing personalities and opinions, demanding clients and delivering to stretched timelines on an on-going basis.

Why did you decide to pursue this career?

It fit with my background qualifications, and I have enjoyed it since the beginning.

What can this type of job lead on to?

I am now in a lead position, so I do less and less hands on programming. I am leading a team of over 40 programmers, with scope in the coming year to move into functional management.

What advice would you give to somebody considering SAS Programming as a career?

Go for it!

Please tell us anything else that you would like to add about your job.

SAS programming is one of the many technical roles that are being outsourced to companies in Asia. Although a technically demanding role, a fresher SAS programmer in the UK needs to have, or want to develop, soft skills, such as training capabilities, good communication etc. An interest in resource or project management would be advisable.

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