How to start a SAP career

Unless you have a natural penchant for IT software or work in the industry, you may not have heard about SAP or considered a career in it. In Europe, the SAP market is particularly skills-short so educating people about SAP and the career opportunities (see latest SAP jobs here) it can offer is vital for establishing a future talent pipeline. But how do you get into SAP and how can you build a successful career out of it?


SAP is a German software company set up in 1972 by five former IBM employees. As is necessary in the fast-moving world of IT, SAP is a progressive, forward-thinking company and they are constantly buying new companies and expanding into emerging areas – the latest being Cloud services. Today, SAP is the world leader in enterprise application and the world’s third largest independent software manufacturer. With customers in 190 countries around the world, there are vast job opportunities for IT professionals to get into this market and build a successful and lucrative career.

Different career paths for different backgrounds

At a basic level, you will need an interest in IT so learning coding and configuration will help give you a good foundation of knowledge. Because SAP is used so widely across different business functions, at a degree level, there are many options available to set you up for a SAP career - an international trade degree or commercial background is a good prerequisite to become a SAP SD Consultant, an accountancy or finance degree/background is suitable for a job as a SAP FICO Consultant and a sociology/HR degree could help you become a SAP HR Consultant. So whilst a passion for IT is important, so too is the desire to understand business and apply your business knowledge to the way your IT systems operate.

Technical or Functional

Your route into SAP will also vary depending on whether you opt for a technical or functional role. Technical roles will be more suited to those interested in programming, whereas functional roles are more for those who enjoy managing relationships and configuring systems to suit client requirements. The technical consultant plays a crucial role in every project, assisting the functional consultant in altering the system to address specific client needs.

Gain valuable work experience

If you have left education, a good way to get work experience is to apply for a role as a system user or as a junior consultant. These roles will enable you to learn how to configure a system and may give you a chance to work alongside a senior consultant, which is a valuable learning experience. A job at a large consultancy may even open up opportunities to study different certifications, which can be expensive to fund independently.

What looks attractive to employers?

From an employer’s perspective, the most important skill of a SAP consultant is the ability to configure systems. Certification is impressive and acts as proof of your expertise but it is by no means essential for a successful SAP career. If you are a logical person, with a strong understanding of systems and a desire to continuously learn, then you will be suited to a career in SAP. The best way to progress is to know what you want to specialise in and know how to get the knowledge and experience to make you an expert in that field. Keeping up-to-date with industry news and available qualifications will also help you stand out against other candidates at each stage of your career.  

Interested in reading more about SAP? Take a look at our other SAP articles below:

If you have an interest in new technologies and are keen to develop a career in the new era of cloud computing then view our available SAP jobs and kick start your career.

If you're an employer looking to hire SAP professionals, click here.

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