Top Skills Every Statistical Programmer Should Master – and How You Can Build Them

A successful statistical programmer obviously must have a solid understanding of statistics as well as a strong foundation in a statistical programming language, especially SAS.

But according to Stanley Yuen, Manager of Statistical Programming at SimulStat, there are other equally critical skills needed to succeed in this field. One is the knowledge of CDISC compliance due to the need for data standardization. This includes knowing SDTM, ADaM, define.xml, and Reviewer’s Guide documentation.

Stanley advises that statistical programmers must also possess good communication skills since they are heavily involved in the clinical data and can assist in providing insight helpful to other departments in their decision-making.  It’s also important to understand the science behind what is being analyzed.

A strong educational background and work experience in related fields is also important. Stanley graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics along with a Master’s degree in Biostatistics. After he graduated, he worked in various healthcare related industries including Medical Devices, Pharmaceuticals, CRO’s, and Health Insurance which has helped make him a critical part of the SimulStat team.

In addition to formal education and work experience, there are many online resources and communities available for anyone looking to build and improve their skills.

“A valuable resource has been that contains the conference papers related to SAS programming or CDISC,” advises Yuen. “One good thing about programming is that there’s not just one linear approach to a problem. Sometimes the best way to build on your skills is trial and error, especially when testing out a new approach to a familiar problem or being exposed to a different approach. There will be times when a statistical programmer will have to take over someone else’s assignment and it’s critical for that person to be able to quickly assess what the former programmer’s code is doing in order to complete the assignment. “

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