Introduction to SAS

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In this topic I am giving an Introduction to SAS, explaining the basics about SAS in brief. This is for beginners who are just getting started learning SAS. You will find the learning path for Beginners and Advanced Users.



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Introduction to SAS – What is SAS?

SAS stands for Statistical Analysis System or Software, a powerful statistical package. It includes many modules for Data Management, Data Mining and Statistical Data Analysis. And SAS is available for both Windows and UNIX platforms.

Introduction to SAS – What we can do with SAS?

SAS is an integrated system of software products provided by the SAS Institute that enables a user to perform:

  • Data Management: Data entry, retrieval, Data Cleaning, and Data mining
  • Report Generation: We can generate different reports including graphs
  • Data Analysis: We can perform simple descriptive Data analysis to Advanced Statistical Data Analysis and Operations Research
  • Predictive Modelling: SAS have powerful modules for Forecasting and Decision Support
  • Data Warehousing: SAS is BI tool and used can perform all ETL transactions (Extract, Transform, Load)

Introduction to SAS – What is SAS program?

SAS is driven by SAS programs or procedures, which we can use to perform various operations on data stored as tables called Datasets. SAS also provides menu driven graphical user interfaces (such as the SAS Enterprise Guide (EG), SAS Enterprise Miner (Eminer)) which helps non-programmer.

However, most of the interaction with SAS system to perform analytical operations are done through writing SAS programs. SAS programs provide high level of flexibility compares to the menu driven interface. Also, menu driven interface for SAS is not provided for platforms like UNIX and Mainframe.

SAS programs are composed of two fundamental components, Data Step and Proc Step (Procedures).

DATA step(s):

Data Steps used to Create or modify the data sets. We can use the Data steps for:

  • Defining the structure of the data: We can define the variables and assign the data
  • Creating the Data: We can input the data or read from the files, subsets of the existing data, merging the more than one data set, or updating the data
  • Modifying the data: We can modify the existing data and create new data sets and update the existing the data
  • Checking for correctness: We can check if there are errors in the data

An Example Data Step:
DATA summarytables.categores_copy;
SET summarytables.categores;

PROC Step(s)

Proc steps are pre-written procedures in SAS, each proc step is created for a particular form of data manipulation or statistical analysis to be performed on data sets created in the DATA step. We can use Proc steps for:

  • Printing the contents of a data set and create reports (Example, PROC PRINT)
  • Producing the frequency and cross tabulation (Example, PROC FREQ)
  • Generating Summaries and Aggregates (Example PROC MEANS, PROC Summary)
  • Applying Statistical Techniques and analysis the data (Example, PROC TTEST, PROC REG)
  • Generating the Charts (Example, PROC GPLOT)
  • Sorting, listing and exporting the results and creating data sets

An Example Proc Step:
PROC PRINT DATA=summarytables.categores_copy;

SAS programs are written using SAS language to manipulate, clean, describe and analyze the data. So, it is important to understand and learn the SAS language to use SAS.

A typically SAS program consists of one or more DATA steps to get and define the data as a required format that SAS can understand and one or more PROC Steps to analyze the data. All SAS statements must end with a semicolon.

A beginner level SAS user should at least know how to create the simple data sets and performing minimum operations to analyze the data. We will start with the following Data and Proc statement to do the basic tasks using SAS language.


We will discuss about these statements in the next few topics. We will begin with understanding the statements used in the Data Step and Proc Step in the next topic.

By |February 14th, 2013|Data Analysis|8 Comments

About the Author:

PNRao is a passionate business analyst and having close to 10 years of experience in Data Mining, Data Analysis and Application Development. This blog is his passion to learn new skills and share his knowledge to make you expertise in Data Analysis (Excel, VBA, SQL, SAS, Statistical Methods, Market Research Methodologies and Data Analysis Techniques).


  1. Sujatha December 5, 2013 at 12:33 PM - Reply

    Hi PNRao,

    Good afternoon,

    Hope our doing well!!!

    And i just want know which is he best tool in above mentiond tools otherthan excel.

    Please suggest me i have knowledge of Advance excel & Macros.

    Appreciate for your quick response.

    Sujatha G

    • PNRao December 5, 2013 at 11:11 PM - Reply

      Thanks for visiting us!

      All are best in their targeted markets/services or domains. For BI and Advanced Statistical modeling most people uses SAS or SPSS. You can consider Tableau, QlikView or Spotfire for quickly building dashboards, they are mainly for rich visualized presentation and now they are also adding new modules for statistical data analysis. And most of the users use Google analytics for Web analytics. So, its all depending on your requirement and domain. All these tools are good and they have very good customer satisfaction.

      Hope this helps.

  2. Kumar January 28, 2016 at 11:52 PM - Reply

    Hi Sir

    I have been working on Excel and Advanced Excel, SQL and Macros from last 2 years. Started working on VBA recently..
    Planning a career as Data Analyst. How the career growth will be in this? Could you please suggest the best path to accomplish it.As many jobs in asking for the knowledge and working experience in base SAS started learning the same from online tutorials. As a part of it I found this site.

    Please give your valuable suggestions. Thank in advance


    • PNRao January 30, 2016 at 11:24 PM - Reply

      Hi Kumar,
      Career in the field of Data Analysis is very good. There are many areas in business analytics, you have to build good exposure in the tools required.

      Example Positions:
      Business Analyst: Good communication skills with moderate knowledge in Excel, SQL + Strong Domain knowledge
      Visualization Expert: Basic Communication skills+Excel,VBA,SQL+ Any BI or Visualization tool (Tableau, QlikView,etc..)
      Technical Analyst:Basic Communication Skills+ Strong Excel, VBA, SQL
      Programming Analyst: Basic Communication skills+Excel,VBA,SQL+ STRONG knowledge in SAS or SPSS or R

      I suggest, you should be an expert in one of the tools (SAS or SPSS or R or Tableau) with Strong Excel+VBA+SQL skills by the time you complete 4 years of work experience. Your manager will not have more expectations when you have 1 to 3 years of experience. But 4 years, you should be expert in one of the tools mentioned.

      Choose it based on your interest + education and set a goal to become an expert in one of the tools as suggested (it comes, when you utilize every opportunity in you work place and give your best while working on any project. Always try to deliver something extra and impressive, instead of just requirement). This will help you to grow in your career, and helps your organization and team to grow. You will get the special & positive image which helps you to boost your confidence.

      Summary: As per my experience career any area is good & excellent when an individual have the skills and passion; and that person do not afraid of anything when he/she build good skill set & confidence. Other-side, one may afraid of the anything if they do not build proper skill set (i.e; people who do not have passion to learn and implement at workplace).

      This is right time for you! Take care of your health!! And Work Hard and Learn Every Day!! Never be afraid of anything!
      All the best!

    • PNRao January 30, 2016 at 11:40 PM - Reply
  3. Pradeep March 22, 2016 at 11:47 AM - Reply

    Dear PN Rao

    I have a question, I have been working as a Reporting Analyst for over 5+ years, only has MS Excel skills Data formating, validation, Vlookup, Pivot Table, Index-Match, Offset function, List, Text-to-columns function.I am a commerce graduate, I want to get into Data analysis role. What I learn here and what is expected is completely practical based.
    What skills would you recommend based on my qualification and experience that should i learn in order to addon to my skills and earnings.. I am not paid as per the market.

    Can you also post real life business examples on Excel VBA that can be practised by beginners to advanced level so that he/she can take up a job in the market!
    Please guide !

  4. Rupavathi R July 5, 2016 at 4:13 PM - Reply

    Hi, Am working as a business data analyst for the past 6 months after finished my Engineering. So I want to know what are the skills I should learn to shine in the field of analytics. And I wanna know the scope of data analytics in abroad. And share how to approach that

  5. shelly April 7, 2017 at 4:43 PM - Reply

    i am MBA (mrktg+Ib) and have done M.A( eco)… but want to star tmy career as Business analydt or data analyst.
    Can u please guide how to purse the career and what all qualifications are required to get a job as BA.

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