Nowadays all IT professionals are working in a very dynamic environment where professional development and learning the whole life is a must if you want to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. The same principles are applicable for SAP professionals - SAP is constantly striving to provide both - more powerful and user-friendly solutions, upgrading existing or releasing new products.
At the same time SAP community tries to keep up with new products. Currently SAP is doing some step forward to make SAP system less complex, though SAP implementations are still heavily dependent on the consultants and integrators.
As most other software vendors SAP provides an opportunity to prove the knowledge of their products via certification program. Though it doesn’t have the reputation as the only way to show your SAP proficiency for wider audience, SAP is trying to boost the popularity and recognition of its certification program.
SAP offers 2 levels of certification – associate and professional.
Associate level requires only technical knowledge that can be gained during SAP organized training academies or through self-studies of SAP provided training material. Certification questions are built in a way that it can be passed mostly if you are learning from SAP books and have some walk-through in the test system at the same time. Initially it was created to bring additional value for the participants enrolled to the SAP training academies. Currently there is no requirement to be enrolled on the official SAP training course in order to pass an exam. The exam can be booked after self-studies of SAP material.
Professional level exam is much more complex as you cannot directly learn all the answers from the reference materials (as it is with associate exam). The goal of professional exam is to check your abilities to apply your technical knowledge in the practical situations. In other word, it cannot be directly learned from training books or via test system as you need to answer questions on the problems you are facing during different phases of SAP implementations. Because of that exam is much more difficult to pass. Thereby it can prove your excellence more accurately.
SAP recently launched a website that allows to manage your certifications hoping to gather SAP certified professionals in one single place. Company is emphasizing that certification would ensures expected value added to the client if service is provided by certified SAP partners. However I would like to dispel some myths on SAP certification value:
Certification no longer guarantees that you will get SAP job if another candidate possesses the right skill set and hands on experience acquired in the SAP implementation projects. Though, it can give you additional advantage applying for the SAP entry level positions if you already have any associate level certificate (as employer can skip initial investment dedicated for new joiners). Small exception can be made if you already have the certificate of the new SAP product where demand and supply of SAP consultants in the market is still not in balance. In this way such certificate can open more doors and does it quicker.
Certification no longer ensure you the promotion, additional pay rise or a daily rate increase. The main key driver for your success is your ability to apply the knowledge in the project environment. Similar parallel can be made with the highest education – regardless of the prestige of your university after 10 years your university mates will never be at the same place as your career acceleration heavily depends on your motivation and personal goals.
SAP certification cannot secure you long-lasting career. SAP technical knowledge together with your consulting skills must be combined with your creativity and the ability to think out of the box challenging clients’ requirements. In addition, other factors such as your mobility or foreign language skills are also very important.
All in all, SAP certification is an additional way to prove your knowledge and competency together with references from your past projects. It is always worthy to invest some time going through reference books as it could help you not only to pass the exam but also to get additional ideas how to solve client’s requirements using SAP standard. Sometimes it can be much more valuable saving hours of work.
These observations were written after passing 6 SAP certification exams and working in SAP industry over the last decade. They are based on the personal opinion and cannot be associated with any company that I am working on or representing.