A few days ago I read an interesting question in Career Center, where a question from the title was asked. You can read the whole thread: “Is SAP Career good for top  IT students ????”. In fact it would be cool if you would not only read the thread, but to comment on the question, the presented ideas and share your own opinion.

I understand how important this question can be for many people and I would like to encourage all and of course provide the arguments why SAP is worth a try for everybody and especially those, who think about themselves as the TOP. So: let´s answer the questions: Is it better to study on or pursue a SAP career for a “top” fresher? And will you get appreciated for your degree in the world of SAP?

A wise man once told me that it doesn´t matter what field I will choose to engage, what career path I will follow. The important thing is to do the best way you can everything you´re doing. He added an example: If you´re a cook (what is, at least in my country, a profession where you don´t expect sky-high salary) you don´t get much money. But if you´re one of the best cooks, your salary is pretty high. And it is same with IT. (Of course the job is not only about the money, it is also about the feeling, the colleagues and stuff, but money are still very important, right?).

The important thing is to work hard and be one of the best and not what field you choose. This “story” works well together the blog Valuable Lessons to Make the Most of your SAP Career by Jarret Pazahanick. But, let´s get back to the topic…

In the world of SAP you will not get any job based on the name of the school you have finished (you will not get the job based on the school name in any other fields either, this is not how it works in the real world). Well, maybe if you got the degree at MIT (my opinion), then you may have a chance to get a job because of the school name. But still… nobody waits for your “analytical” skills and schooling talks outside.

I know so many young men and women, fresh graduates, who think they can “design” things and provide analytical inside on any topic you can pick. I was one of them (hopefully am not any more). There is a reason why in practice people do not follow all the rules and do not do the same way they told you to do them at school. Especially with SAP…

I don´t know many schools where you can get some SAP-related education (of course there are probably many school like that, but I don´t have them in my neighborhood). I do know the IT schools in my country or in my city which teach you how to do the Java design, .NET stuff, usable algorithms, quick DB queries, but that is so different from the way it works in SAP, you cannot call yourself a developer or analyst as a fresher trying to learn some SAP (in fact, many young “analysts” don´t want to get dirty and prefer to talk about how the others should do their job… Believe me, that is not the right way how to start your career!).

When doing the Java development, you don´t have to count in any “standard”, any content already available for immediate use. But SAP, the whole concept, is based on the existence of standard content, on the way everything is integrated through this standard content and delivered faster through customizing instead of developing everything from scratch. How could you call yourself an analyst, if you have no idea, what is already available in the system? If you don´t understand the way things work in SAP?

Then the education is not important. But if you´re really gifted or the school taught you how to accept new things easily (how to learn quickly), then you can get all this much faster, with less effort and catch on. 

Together with this way, how things work, I must mention, that many companies prefer to hire people with experience rather than with the “better” diploma. Especially in India (as mentioned by Kishan Prashanth in the thread and many more people in the Career Center during the months) the experience is given much more value than any education. “Any employer in India would prefer to hire someone who has 5-10 years of experience rather than someone who has a Master’s or PhD degree with no real-time work experience”, Kishan comments. I believe this is true for USA too.  Schooling makes it possible to get jobs, but without the experience it would be hard to move up.

Then one starts asking if it is worth it to study further or start a “real” career. Of course the studies have sense! I am going to study some more as well! But being like 25 you´d better think twice if you can really understand what they´re teaching you when you apply for the MBA (In my opinion, studying MBA gives better sense when you´re 35 and have gathered some experience to build on). Do not forget to count in the fact, PhD is a scientific career and nobody will pay for your PhD when you start the developer career after receiving the degree.

My friend Kevin Coolman adds his personal opinion: “First I want to get a few years of experience under my belt.  Then I want the company I work for to pay for my schooling.  This may take 4 years to get your MBA when it could be much quicker, but you will continue to make money, get school paid for, and when in school you can put it to practical use.”

That means, you will not get more for the “better” diploma. You had been warned. But you will still get enough not to regret you have entered the world of SAP. But one can understand that, as Kishan said: “One may be a gold medalist at college but if he/she can´t handle the demands of the cut-throat competitive IT market, they will fall by the wayside“.

I know the people who find it much more difficult to get a SAP job than complete some extra degree. I know the people who find it much more rewarding to become a respected SAP consultant than having a “gold medal” or holding an extra degree. In India, it is said to be difficult to get in. And as you can read in the comments section of the blog post of mine called Start your SAP career right from school added by Mr. Adams: “I appreciate the experience, but in places like Los Angeles, California, a degree is like a high school diploma due to the competition“. So the world is not that different in the various parts like you would expect.

It is also a question of your personal goals, fears, wishes and stuff. People pursuing one degree after the other are said to be a little afraid of the real world. They like the calm feeling when wondering around the silent school corridors. Would you like to spend your lifetime at school and pretend there is nothing out there? Outside the school walls? Or you´re ready to accept the challenge? Because the world of SAP is a great challenge itself. The intention is not to tease anybody here, I am just asking questions. The answer is up to you.

If you will decide to accept the challenge of the real world and try to utilize your education in a real life, then still it is not clear if the SAP is the right field for you. But you may have a feeling for SAP, an opportunity to work with SAP or a friend who has shown you this blog. Then you look for the pros and cons of the SAP career. But let me put it this way: What are your other options?

What technologies can you work with? Or you don´t want to be a tech guy and do some management? What fields/ problem domains can you understand? In what fields/ domains you have experience that could earn you a job? In what fields did you get any education? And last, but not least… which other jobs you can get? When answering the questions you may find your pros and cons.

To add one more pro for SAP career: I like it, when my experience is targeted, I can name a module I have worked with, technologies, I have used, customer, I have worked for. There are not that many SAP professionals (compared to the number of PHP developers or Java developers, web developers, network administrators and so on), not that many SAP customers (keep the PHP comparison in mind), so when I talk about my job with a stranger, I immediately know who is a colleague, what are his/her skills, what is his value on the job market, if he is more or less experienced than me. And with all this parameters I feel I know where is my place, where do I go from and where am I heading.

I hope I have mentioned all the important aspects of the topic and would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas about it. Please comment!



Side note: Before publishing the blog, Kevin Coolman, my friend I have mentioned above, suggested me to add some numbers to prove you can get better salary in SAP than in other IT fields. Maybe that would help somebody to understand the IT market from the SAP perspective. I am not going to add any numbers here, but can point you to some of the sources (or you can Google some more down yourself).

Note you need to register on most of the sites to get the salary survey data. Check sites like: http://www.saportals.com/ or http://go.panayainc.com/2010SAPSalarySurvey.html , some more valuable information you can find get from the famous Jon Reed´s page here: http://www.jonerp.com/content/view/308/95/ 

I would like to add one last point: I did not pick SAP because of the salary, but because of so many professionals I wanted to work with and because my work helps run the best business. Remember: The World’s Best Run Companies Run SAP

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  1. Martin Gillet
    Hi Otto,

    Thanks for your blog entry.
    I trust SAP is a great place where you can get international exposure to high tech and innovation, building up the business tools of tomorrow.

    Although many alternatives exist, we must, as a Community, as SAP Mentors share these information and values, to promote a great place to work and build a career.

    For your information, I just received today my monthly copy of the RH Tribune (well known Human Resources magazine for french speakers) which has an article on ‘How to seduce 2010 graduates’…

    Article was illustrated with results of the The Pan-European Student Survey which highlights the Ideal Employers Survey

    Number of participants in 2010: 21,166 respondents
    Number of employer evaluations: 55,596
    Number of universities targeted in 2010: 100 leading academic institutions in Europe
    Field period: November 2009 to March 2010

    In the field of study ‘IT’, SAP only shows up at the 13th place !

    (Excerpt 1st to 20th)


    Company Ranking 2010
    Google 1
    Microsoft 2
    IBM 3
    Apple 4
    Intel 5
    Nokia 6
    Cisco Systems 7
    Oracle 8
    Sony 9
    Accenture 10
    Hewlett-Packard 11
    Sony Ericsson 12
    SAP 13
    Siemens 14
    Dell 15
    BMW 16
    IKEA 17
    Ericsson 18
    Ferrari 19
    EADS 20

    Perhaps we could have a word with the SAP Universities Alliance as we need to emphasize probably more on the multiple opportunities here at SAP.

    My five cents,
    Hope this helps,


    1. Otto Gold Post author
      I am very happy about this post, because this is a proof we´re (or they´re = SAP) not that bad but definitely can improve a lot. Could you please replicate your comment into this thread:
      Where I would like to start a UAC imrpovement discussion? Would be great if you could participate and add your ideas directly to the this thread. Be a part of the change!
    2. Sharath A
      Hey Otto….
                   Once again an interesting and cool blog for new bies….

      Keep rocking Otto….


  2. Jarret Pazahanick
    Hi Otto

    Good article and it is impressive how you keep coming up with thought provoking content. I also want to thank you for mention my article in your blog as well.

    I started SAP when I was 28 year old after 6 years in a non IT related career.  My plan was always to go back and get my MBA when I was 29/30 but I quickly realized that not only would an MBA be a huge time committment but that it would not add anything material to my SAP career. 

    I dont remember seeing very many SAP job posting for consultants that mention MBA (or certification but Cert5 is working on that). Looking back I am happy with my choice as my goal in even considering an MBA was to advance my career and I ended up spending that additional time focused on SAP which has turned out very well.

    1. Otto Gold Post author
      Hello Jarret,
      it was a pleasure to mention your blog since it has so many fans (believe me, people have mentioned this blog so often, that I did not believe it one blog can be so popular:)) Good for you and for the Community as well.
      I wonder if my content is really provoking so much? Why do you think so? Of course you need to add some strong feelings to help the people get the message, but this one is nothing special, is it?
      Maybe it is not that often seen to talk about MBA together with SAP skills, but one may not want to do the technical/ functional stuff for decades (then MBA could be helpful, right?) and this blog is about the potential, hard work and education, so the part about MBA came naturally to me. Do we agree the MBA would be more helpful than PhD, what do you think?
      The important message about the MBA was: do not waste the time and money to get it when you´re like 25, it will give you very little. You don´t have the life experience to build on and if successful, you get a paper, but nothing more. Wait and see and, as you mention, one may understand it will not be any helpful for his/her career to get an extra degree and can spare the time, money and effort for his SAP (or any other career) advancements.
      Hope to see more of your comments under my blogs:)) Cheers, Otto
      1. Bala Prabahar

        Great conversation.

        “People pursuing one degree after the other are said to be a little afraid of the real world” – Is this the reason one wants to get MBA or any degree or he/she has a passion to learn more in college environment?

        I started my IT career 20+ years ago. Ever since I started working in IT, I have been working long hours not because I was expected to but because I just have a lot of fun. I just keep learning one technology after another. This might seem odd but I believe I retired 20+ years ago when I started my IT career.
        SAP is another technology I invested a lot of time and efforts on. I am having a lot of fun now. When I began my SAP career 10+ years ago, I almost worked non-stop for several years not because of a desire to make more money but had never worked in matured technologies like SAP before. When I started working in SAP, it seemed odd that it was not crashing:) even though underlying database/operating systems were known for “crashing”.

        Like Jarret, I was planning to do MBA until 10 years ago. I now know MBA wouldn’t have helped me. I just enjoy what I am doing now, SAP Consulting.

        Which one would be helpful, MBA or PhD? Consultant’s answer, it depends.  I wouldn’t do either one(nor I would suggest to my kids) based on the number of job opportunities I see in today’s newspaper for MBA versus PhD. If one has more desire to do PhD than MBA, then PhD, in my opinion, will definitely help SAP consultant. May be we don’t see too many SAP consultants pursuing PhD because they probably enjoy working in Corporations than in research organizations.


      2. Jarret Pazahanick
        To be honest I dont think a MBA or PHD provides the return based on the amount of effort it takes in a SAP consulting role. If you are eventually looking to work in upper management for a large SI than I can potentially see some value.

        For other careers I think the MBA is better once you have had some years in the workforce as you have a better understanding of how things really work.

        I read all your blogs so they are though provoking to me but I need to do a better job on adding my comments.

  3. Martin Lang
    I liked your blog a lot, Otto, it’s totally right on.
    If young folks consider themselves “top” and get that kind of feedback from peers or some places where they do internships or their professors/teachers/friends etc., then definitely looking for and starting an SAP career is a great step, that will typically lead to tons of growth opportunities. I don’t have empirical data, but I would guess potentially even more so than with many other tech careers, as pretty much everything SAP is ultimately part of companies core processes and core processes usually are revenue generating. Improving revenue generating processes is something employers or companies are always extremely excited about, which usually reflects in good compensation as well as good working environments.
  4. Jon Reed
    Otto, you are doing consistently excellent work on SCN for those students and others trying to break into SAP.  I really consider you to be the key person right now sharing information on this topic and I refer anyone looking for more on this to your blogs.

    Over the years I have fielded probably thousands of questions from those graduates looking into SAP. I think you are right that now, you can start SAP very early, even go to a school that is a UA partner – a huge early edge. Best is to go from there into an early summer internship with a local company running SAP.

    It’s important early in your career, hopefully before your first job, to get a feeling for a career, try on jobs to see which suits you. As you point out, it’s not about money – in other words, early after graduating the most challenging and interesting work should be pursued. As you raise your skill level, the money will follow. SAP covers so many technical and business areas it matters less exactly what you do and more that you work with a great team and mentors you look up to.

    Otto, I respect the generous spirit of your work.

    – Jon

  5. vasant shivanna
    i agree with OTTO & yes, SAP is good for top IT students.coz, schoolings don’t teach us,what are the market requriments. I’am proud to say SAP is my degree. it has taught me the way of current market requriments & to be successful in it. with a good name & money !

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