In my earlier role at SAP, I worked closely with customers, individuals and partners who were always interested in learning how they could enhance their SAP career, what the process of getting SAP certified was, which SAP Certification to choose or whether SAP Certification was worth their time and money. In this blog post, I have tried to answer all these questions and cover other topics related to SAP Certification.
Please feel free to leave your comments and let me know if you found this blog post to be helpful. It would be great to hear from you about your experiences and how you benefited from SAP Certification.
For anyone who doesn’t already know it, SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software. To put the SAP ecosystem into perspective, here are some interesting facts:
- 77% of the world’s transaction revenue comes into contact with a SAP system at one point or another
- SAP has 440,000 customers in more than 180 countries
- SAP has 21,000+ SAP partner companies around the world
With such a vast ecosystem, and a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for all business processes across all industries, you can imagine that implementing and managing a SAP project can be complex, and thus requires expert knowledge and skills in order to be successful.
This is where SAP Certification plays an important role. If you have the right SAP skills and knowledge, this can be easily validated by your SAP Certification credentials. Companies, recruiters and hiring managers can identify you as an expert for a specific SAP solution, which gives you a competitive advantage in your career.
What is SAP Certification?
SAP Certification is available in various solution areas. The choice of certification will really depend upon your job role, your work experience, your interests and your future career aspirations. You can check the list of all the available certification exams that SAP offers here.
There are three different typesof SAP Certifications:
- Associate certification: Most people start at this level. This certification verifies that the candidate has the fundamental knowledge and an overall understanding of a specific SAP solution. These certifications start with “C_”, e.g., C_ACTIVATE12 – SAP Certified Associate – SAP Activate Project Manager
- Specialist certification: This certification level focuses on a specific role or integration component. These certifications start with “E_”, e.g., E_HANAAW_14 – SAP Certified Development Specialist – ABAP for SAP HANA 2.0
- Professional certification: This is an advanced certification. It requires several years of practical on-the-job project experience and a more detailed understanding of SAP solutions. These certifications start with “P_”, e.g., P_TSEC10_75 SAP Certified Technology Professional – System Security Architect
Most SAP professionals get certified with Associate level certifications. The number of people certified at the Specialist and Professional levels is still very low.
To keep your SAP Certification up-to-date, you only need to pass an Associate exam once, but to maintain your SAP Certification for a specific SAP solution, you may be required to pass ‘stay-current assessments’ whenever a newer version of a solution is released.
Certifications are normally valid for the two most recent solution releases.
All SAP consultant certifications are available as cloud certifications in the Certification Hub and can be booked with product code CER006. I have included more information on how to subscribe to the Certification Hub (CER006) in the later section on “How do I get SAP certified?”.
Keep in mind that the testing procedure to certify professionals via SAP exams is a rigorous one. The questions in the exams will not only test your knowledge, but also your ability to apply the knowledge that you have gained in the training. You are not allowed to use any reference materials (offline or online) during the certification test.
***UPDATE: In March 2021, SAP launched CER001: SAP Certification Online Exam, One Attempt.***
What is the value of SAP Certification?“Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett
Many times, I have been asked by customers if being SAP-certified really brings about any value. Some have thought that having SAP product knowledge is enough. In my opinion, of course you need practical experience with SAP. However, being SAP-certified is considered a valid, reliable and valuable credential in the market.
I have compiled below the value that SAP Certification may bring to organizations (with certified employees), SAP partner companies (with certified consultants) and to individuals themselves.
Value of SAP Certification for Organizations
- Return on investment (ROI): SAP-certified individuals help organizations achieve a return on their software investment. When users fully utilize SAP software and systems, and adopt them, companies achieve ROI much faster. SAP-certified individuals understand the full functionalities of SAP systems and can leverage this knowledge to drive the maximum business outcome.
- Improved job performance: When users fully understand the system and are certified in their solution area, it reflects on their job performance. They are more productive, get maximum value from the system, achieve greater efficiency and improve job performance.
- Employee retention: By investing in professional development and up-skilling, organizations can reduce employee turnover. Studies show that individuals are more satisfied and happier working for companies that invest in continuous learning and that are committed to the professional development of their workforce. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.
- In-house SAP expert capability: Organizations can build their own in-house SAP expertise by hiring knowledgeable experts with proven SAP capabilities. Their expertise can be validated by SAP Certification. Building organization’s own capability increases confidence in successful business outcomes, as the internal staff is trained and professionally qualified. Also, companies become more independent from external suppliers.
- Manage employee skills globally: Large organizations with a presence in multiple geographies, can easily manage their employee skills. SAP Certifications are globally recognized and standardized. They provide validation that the certified individual has the required proficiency and expertise in the SAP solution in which he or she is certified. This makes it very easy for organizations to manage the SAP skills of their employees worldwide.
- Use of digital badges for recruiting and employer branding purposes: Organizations can verify the candidates’ professional SAP qualification quickly and easily via digital badges. These badges can be used either in company’s external recruitment process or internal hiring for a specific SAP project. Employees who share their badges on social platforms like LinkedIn also positively contribute to the employer’s brand.
Value of SAP Certification for Partners
- New customer wins, increased loyalty and business growth: Customers always prefer to work with knowledgeable and skilled partners. It’s not just about doing the job but doing the job right. So, when it comes to SAP projects, customers usually prefer partners who have certified and qualified SAP consultants to manage SAP projects. SAP Certification helps partners to demonstrate their skills in the latest SAP technologies and earn the trust of customers.Check out the total number of certified consultants at SAP’s Services Partners around the world. These statistics clearly illustrate the value SAP Certification has in proving real-world expertise by solution area. As a SAP partner company, it is important to develop and certify consultants to win new customers, increase loyalty and expand your business.
- For system integrators, knowledge is a key differentiator in the market: Capgemini, with more than 6,500 certified consultants worldwide, is the number-one SAP partner in terms of certifications. It differentiates itself as a certified provider of SAP solutions, with market-leading expertise in the deployment of SAP S/4HANA. It is helping companies successfully deploy intelligent solutions, with the support of its skilled SAP-certified personnel.
I have listed below some of the benefits, of being a SAP certified professional.
- Global recognition: SAP Certification is one of the most popular technology certifications, and it is recognized globally. By earning SAP Certification, you can validate your SAP skills in the global market. If you have obtained you certification in one country, it will still be valid and recognized if you relocate to a new country in the future.
- Strengthen your SAP skills: In order to pass SAP Certification, you need to prepare well and undertake extensive training and hands-on practice. In the process, you will strengthen and enhance your SAP skills and knowledge.
- Achieve SAP mastery: Along with knowledge, experience and skills, SAP Certification provides personal recognition, and supports your career progression from proficiency to mastery, through different certification levels (associate to professional).
- Up-to-date SAP skills: SAP exams are continuously updated for every SAP cloud product release. Being SAP-certified ensures that your knowledge is always up to date, with regular assessments and ‘stay-current’ exams.
- Competitive advantage in recruitment processes: With SAP Certification, job recruiters can shortlist your application at a glance. SAP Certification gives you a competitive advantage in the recruitment process.
- Staffing in internal SAP projects: During internal hiring for SAP projects, project managers prefer to recruit staff members that are SAP-certified. If you are professionally certified, you are more likely to be preferred for SAP projects over your other non-certified colleagues.
- Promote your expertise and employability: These days, professionals are increasingly showcasing their work experience, skills, qualifications and professional certifications on their social and professional networks. And rightly so. Recruiters and hiring managers are constantly scanning profiles through sites like LinkedIn to find their next hire. If you are a SAP-certified professional, it is very easy to promote your proficiency in various SAP subject areas, using SAP Certification digital badges.
What is the market saying?
Now let’s have a look at some of the trends in the market.
Digital transformation is fueling the demand for a skilled workforce
Business is changing rapidly. Many organizations are embarking on their digital transformation journeys. Technology is also changing rapidly. Cloud software updates are delivered every quarter. To keep pace with the changes, organizations need people with the right skills.
If you want to ride this wave of digital transformation, learn the right skills and get certified to validate your skills.
Use SAP Certification to support the growing demand for SAP S/4HANA skills
Companies in every industry worldwide have realized that integrated, cloud-based software is critical to business success. There are over 7,400 customers live on SAP S/4HANA and hundreds more are going live every month. 92% of DSAG members and 98% of ASUG members who have already decided in favor of adopting SAP S/4HANA are planning their projects within the next five years.
If you want to be part of this growth story, building up your SAP S/4HANA skills is the key. Many SAP customers, consultants, partners, and students are already using the pandemic downtime to prepare, learn and educate themselves for this next digital era. Many of them are even using this time to get certified on SAP S/4HANA so they can be project ready as the pandemic recedes.
The number of individuals certified in SAP S/4HANA has increased by 73% since last year, with over 110 experts being certified every day. More than 74,000 — and counting —are currently learning about SAP S/4HANA and collaborating with coaches, trainers, peers and other experts in SAP Learning Rooms for SAP S/4HANA. In just the first half of 2020 alone, approximately 11,500 learners participated in almost 400 live sessions on SAP S/4HANA.
There is a great value in gaining proficiency in SAP S/4HANA. As a certified individual – whether you are a technical administrator or a business user – you can apply your knowledge and skills to help your company become an intelligent enterprise and realize the business benefits.
Average SAP consultant salary varies widely and is higher with professional certification and project experience
The salary of SAP consultants varies greatly, as it depends on several factors, such as education, work experience, certifications and additional skills, to name a few.
To understand whether SAP certification has any effect on salary, I did some quick market research. Below is a glimpse of some of my findings and data for the United Sates, as researched in October 2020.
- As per Indeed.com, a worldwide employment-related search engine, the average salary of a SAP-certified consultant in the United States is $112,488 per year. However, the average salary for a SAP consultant in the United States is only $85,816 per year. (Source: Indeed.com Clearly, SAP certified professionals are offered an increase of approx. 30% in salary as compared to just a SAP consultant.
Many times, I am asked which SAP Certification is the most popular, or which solution area I would recommend pursuing for certification purposes.
From the popularity perspective, it is no coincidence that SAP S/4HANA is the one of the core SAP Certification topics across SAP’s learning portfolio. Based on SAP’s internal data, most certified individuals are in Digital Core (S/4HANA), followed by SAP Platform, HANA & Analytics and People Management.
Following is the list of the top 10 core certification exams, as of October 2020. You can explore these topics to check if any of these are of interest to you or in line with your current job role.
- SAP S/4HANA for Financial Accounting Associates
- SAP S/4HANA Sourcing & Procurement
- SAP HANA
- SAP Activate Project Manager
- SAP S/4HANA Sales
- SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central
- ABAP for SAP HANA
- ABAP with SAP NetWeaver 7.5
- Business Process Integration with SAP S/4 HANA
- SAP S/4HANA Conversion and SAP System Upgrade
Growth of SAP-certified individuals
Here are some additional interesting statistics related to SAP-certified professionals worldwide:
- There are approx. 170,000 SAP-certified professionals globally, as of October 2020.
- To cater to the growing market demand for skilled and certified SAP professionals, ~131k core certification exams were taken by SAP professionals (including partners and customers) across various solution areas in the last year alone.
- SAP certified and current individuals have increased by 40% YoY across the regions and solution areas.
- SAP being a global company with worldwide customer base, SAP certified individuals are in great demand across different regions. As of Oct 2020, the region with the most SAP certified individuals is Asia (~33%), followed by Europe (~20%) and North America (~13%).
How do I get SAP certified?
As I mentioned earlier, passing the SAP Certification exam requires rigorous preparation and knowledge. However, from the process and delivery perspective, it is straightforward and easy to buy, book and take your certification exam.
All SAP Certification exams are available online in the cloud, as a service. This means that you can take any certification exam at any time, from the comfort of your home or office.
The steps below will guide you to start your journey towards getting SAP certified.
Identify the solution area/topic
As a first step, you must identify the solution area where you want to build your expertise. The SAP Training Shop is a good starting point. Learning Journeys can also help you navigate your way, based on the product categories and the role. You can explore and make your selection according to your role, area of practice or interest.
Get training, learn and prepare for the exam
Once you have identified the right solution area and the related certification, enroll in SAP training and start learning for the exam. For every exam description page, (e.g. C_TS4CO_1909), you will find the list of topics that are covered in that certification and also the courses/trainings that cover them. So, you will know exactly which trainings to take in preparation for that specific exam. Here you will also find the percentage of questions that will be asked in the exam from each of the listed topics.
When you are choosing the training, you can choose a training format that suits you – instructor-led or self-paced. You can also check out a new flexible learning model called SAP Blended Learning Academy that lets you learn and prepare for your certification while you work. The SAP Certification exam is included in the academy package, so you don’t need to purchase it separately.
If you choose to self-study using SAP Learning Hub, solution editions, you can avail two exam bookings for SAP Certification, as part of the edition. With this option too, you don’t have to purchase SAP Certification exam separately.
For most exams, SAP also provides sample questions to help candidates prepare for the exam. These are actual questions asked in past exams. You can find these on each exam detail page in the SAP Training Shop (see an example here for C_TS4C_2020).
Practice on a live system for hands-on experience
The importance of hands-on experience can never be over-emphasized, while preparing for any SAP certification. I recommend combining the training course with hands-on experience to prepare for your certification exam, as questions will test your ability to apply the knowledge you have gained in training.
Complete the class exercises and practice on a live SAP training system. Gaining hands-on experience with real-life SAP software environments will help you build, practice and sharpen your SAP skills and knowledge. Most instructor-led trainings will provide you with the required hands-on practice. Also, if you chose SAP Learning Hub solution edition for your training, you will receive 10 hours of hands-on practice through SAP Learning System Access. If you chose SAP Learning Hub professional edition for your training, you will receive 60 hours of hands-on practice through SAP Learning System Access.
SAP Learning System Access gives you on-demand access to training systems for hands-on learning. Keep in mind that SAP Live Access cannot be purchased separately, and it is only accessible to people with a valid SAP Learning Hub subscription.
Subscribe to the Certification Hub and book your exam
A subscription to the Certification Hub (CER006) provides you with the option to schedule up to a maximum of 6 exam bookings over your 12-month subscription period. Your subscription is valid for all exams available for booking on the Certification Hub. You can also take each exam up to a maximum of three times. The SAP Certification online exams are remotely proctored via a webcam on your PC or laptop, and you can schedule your exam 24/7 via the Certification Hub. You can watch this video to find out what to expect when you take an SAP certification exam in the cloud.
***UPDATE: In March 2021, SAP launched CER001: SAP Certification Online Exam, One Attempt. CER001 offers only a single attempt of the chosen exam.***
You can simply purchase the Certification Hub online via this link. There may be region-specific guidelines that may apply in some countries for purchasing the Certification Hub. Please contact your local SAP Training and Adoption office if you have questions concerning country-specific guidelines.
In addition, as I mentioned earlier, some training options may already have exams included as part of the package. So you don’t have to purchase the SAP Certification separately if you have opted for one of these options.
Learners can keep their skills up-to-date and stay current with SAP Certification – with training and exams that are continuously updated for every SAP cloud product release.
To maintain your SAP Certification for a specific SAP solution (SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, or SAP S/4HANA Cloud), you might be required to take stay-current assessments when a newer version of a solution is released. You can access the stay-current training content and assessments via your SAP Learning Hub subscription. The stay-current exams are also administered remotely.
SAP customers include 92% of the Forbes Global 2000 and 98% of the world’s top 100 most valued brands.With a global network of customers and partners, SAP remains one of the most sought-after career options in the technology space. With SAP Certification, you can add value to your professional profile and companies can safeguard their SAP implementations and operations.
I hope this blog post has answered most of the questions you may have about SAP Certification. I encourage you to check out the links provided in the blog post for more information. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments about this blog post below.