Main image of article SAP Skills: Which Do You Need to Succeed?

SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software allows tech professionals and others throughout an organization to manage everything from accounting to procurement. In the fierce battle for enterprise business, SAP has continually built out its products with a variety of features and plug-ins, which can make things a bit complicated for tech professionals trying to master the SAP ecosystem.

Fortunately for those who want to learn SAP skills, there is quite a bit of documentation online, as well as courses and certifications to help build and solidify knowledge. On the broadest level, SAP products help companies with the following functions:

  • ERP and Finance
  • Digital Supply Chain
  • CRM and Customer Experience
  • HR and People Engagement
  • Network and Spend Management
  • Business Technology Platform (data and analytics)

We spoke to a few experts to discover the top SAP skills and the relative importance of SAP certifications.

How Do I Train in SAP Skills?

Those who want to learn how to use SAP’s products have a handful of options to start:

“I would recommend SAP Learning Hub,” says Nick Parkin, CEO of Proceed Group. “This platform is a comprehensive source of online courses, training materials, and certification programs for SAP professionals. It offers a range of learning paths, from beginner to advanced levels, and covers a wide variety of topics across different modules and applications. In addition, many third-party online learning tools offer online courses and training programs that focus on specific areas of SAP, such as Basis, programming, or functional modules.”

As you might expect for a company of its size, SAP has its own publishing arm that regularly releases whitepapers and other materials. Parkin recommends reviewing SAP’s latest publications on a regular basis, as these “cover a broad range of topics related to SAP and the wider business technology landscape.”

According to SAP’s own blog, here are some of the most popular categories of SAP skills:

  • Programming Skills (related jobs: 17k; community posts: 60k)
  • Platform & Technology Skills (related jobs: 25k; community posts: 110k)
  • Business Application Skills (related jobs: 121k; community posts: 232k)
  • Big Data & Analytics Skills (related jobs: 21k; community posts: 46k)
  • Methodology skills (related jobs: 15k; community posts: 70k)

That blog entry also breaks down the relevant Learning Hub materials that can help boost your knowledge in SAP products related to those skills: for example, learning more about SAP HANA or SAP Integration Suite to fulfill your enterprise’s need for platform and technology skills:

Check out that blog entry for some greater insight into what you should study first.

What Matters to Managers When Hiring SAP Professionals?

As with other tech ecosystems, hiring managers and recruiters want SAP professionals who have a mix of technical knowledge and real-world experience. “Experience with multiple SAP modules is a big plus,” says Rahul Vij, CEO of WebSpero Solutions. “But perhaps most importantly, we want to see evidence of real-world accomplishments that demonstrate the candidate's ability to create value for their clients or team.”

If you’re an enterprise developer or sysadmin, chances are good that you’ve worked your way up through the ranks at multiple companies, starting in a junior developer or equivalent role before making your way to a more senior position. Whatever your career path, though, it’s important to show that you’ve committed to your previous employers.

“We prefer candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to their previous employers and customers, ideally staying with them for at least 2-3 years,” Parkin says. “This shows stability and consistency and indicates that they have built strong relationships, delivered results, and have a track record of successful projects. In contrast, we are cautious of candidates who have a pattern of jumping jobs every 6-9 months, as this may indicate a lack of dedication or poor performance.”

Impact is also key. It’s one thing to learn SAP’s tools and platforms—but prospective employers want to see how you’ve used SAP’s products to make a real impact in your previous companies’ ERP efforts. Come prepared to any job interview with narratives describing how you’ve overcome challenges and accomplished big projects.

Shri Ganeshram, CEO of Awning, adds: “When I review resumes for SAP professionals, I look for a combination of technical expertise and practical experience. Experience working on large-scale projects, particularly in the areas of integration and customization, is always a plus. I also pay attention to any relevant certifications or training.”

Is a Formal Education Important for an SAP Professional?

SAP is a platform used by tons of companies across a variety of markets worldwide. Depending on your role and the company’s SAP product deployment, a specialized SAP certification may be necessary. Certification courses typically cost about $500, with the final exam costing about $200. Most certifications take three to six months of studying, so plan your learning path wisely.

SAP certifications break down into three tiers:

  • Associate certification for beginners
  • Specialist certification, focusing on a specific role or integration component
  • Professional certification, for those most advanced in their specialization

There are over 100 SAP certification courses available, including these popular ones:

Some SAP-related jobs require certifications; others also ask for formal education of some sort (such as a four-year degree). But do you actually need formal education to land a job as an SAP professional?

“While formal education is not necessarily a requirement, it can certainly be beneficial,” Parkin says. “What matters most is a candidate's relevant experience and expertise in SAP. However, having a formal education in business or computing can provide a solid foundation and a deeper understanding of the technical and business aspects of SAP.”

Ganeshram agrees: “Formal education can certainly be helpful for SAP professionals, particularly for those just starting out in their careers. However, practical experience and on-the-job training are equally valuable. In my experience, a combination of both is ideal.”

Vij concurs, but advises that certifications should be considered continuing education, not one-off items to earn early on: “Ongoing learning and professional development are crucial for staying ahead of the curve and continuing to deliver value to clients.”

Sample Interview Questions for SAP Pros

A wide variety of enterprise-centric jobs ask for SAP experience of some sort, which makes it a little difficult to determine which SAP-related questions you might face in a typical job interview. Vij and Ganeshram tell Dice that many of these questions will drill into past experience with SAP products, specifically how you used those products to overcome an organization’s challenges.

Parkin, whose firm has over two decades in SAP, gives Dice a comprehensive rundown:

  1. For basis consultants: What are the main responsibilities of a basis consultant in a live SAP environment, and what are some of the day-to-day duties you would expect to perform in this role?
  2. For application consultants: How much time do you typically spend working with business users to understand their needs and requirements, and how do you go about proposing and implementing solutions to improve the functionality within your area of expertise in SAP?
  3. For ABAP developers: Can you describe the last ABAP development project you worked on, and explain why it was important for your customer and their business processes?
  4. For all candidates: 
    1. Could you share your career path and how you got into SAP? Specifically, why did you choose to specialize in programming, basis, or functional areas, and how has your career progressed over the last 3-5 years?
    2. Where do you see your career going in the next 3-5 years, and what are your goals for professional growth and development?

If you can demonstrate your mastery of SAP products and how those products can make an enterprise more resource-efficient (as well as an analytics powerhouse), you’re likely well on your way to landing the gig.