Q

Do you need a four-year degree to succeed in SAP?

Jon Reed advises a college student who is considering leaving school for SAP to finish his degree first.

Hi Jon,

I am seriously considering a career in SAP. At the moment I am studying law at university, but I would like to leave that in order to do an SAP course and start working in SAP.

I would like to know whether I need a degree to do SAP training, and also, I would appreciate all the information you could kindly give me on the steps I need to take in order to start this career -- from scratch!

Good question. I'm going to assume that you are in undergraduate work, not in a post-graduate law school environment. If that's the case, I would push on through and get your degree first. SAP can wait. I have seen this a lot with IT folks who left college because they wanted the good rates. Many years later, they often wish they had a degree and as you get older, it's harder and harder to find the time to get the credits and classes you need. You don't have to have a four-year college degree to succeed in IT, but I still think it's best to finish school.

If you have trouble breaking into SAP, you may find that your degree opens up some new employment options for you outside of SAP. A degree also gives you the option of looking into graduate programs as you see fit, such as an MBA. If you leave college, I think you should do it for a "once in a lifetime" opportunity that can't wait. The SAP market will be waiting on you when you get out of school. No, technically, you don't need a degree to get SAP training, but I would take it one step at a time if I were you. It's not easy to break into SAP. I didn't address the keys to breaking into SAP in this answer because you had some other relevant concerns. But if you read through some of the other answers in this column and previous ones, you'll see plenty of tips for breaking into the SAP field as well.

I usually recommend that recent college grads try to get work at consulting firms, where they can pick up business process knowledge and software consutling skills. Whether those skills come in SAP or other software packages doesn't even matter all that much for the recent college grad. That's the short version, but look through some of my other answers for more detail on this.

This was first published in March 2006

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