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CAREER IN SAP ABAP PROGRAMMING

hi, i am software professional with more then six years of experience in application development in vb,sql2000. i want to change my career into sap. is there any scope in sap abap programming?
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rishi1974
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rishi1974
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upwardboundCommented:
Hi rishi1974,

I was a SAP developer from 1997 to 2002.  SAP is a huge integrated software package with lots of modules.  The modules cover all aspects of business functions like financials, manufacturing, order processing, etc.  My module was SD, Sales and Distribution.  If you want to get started in SAP, it's a bit tough.  Usually you need to work for a large company that has SAP installed because it tends to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and the implementations tend to cost millions.  Things may have improved in recent years due to SAP's push into mid-size businesses.  My advice is to try to get experience in popular modules like the FI, CO, HR, MM, PP, PM.

Learning ABAP is the easy part.  The more challenging part is learning the modules.  Most contract work is for people with experience in certain modules like FI, CO, etc.  Business experience is a definite plus.  If you know any German, that helps since much of the source code is in German. (I don't know German.)  Older ABAP is more like COBOL and newer stuff is similar to VB or other RAD languages.  Most people specialize in certain modules because the whole system is so big, nobody can know it all.  I wrote lots of reports and small changes because SAP doesn't like you to make changes to their code.  They provide places for custom code called User Exits.  I found that I spent a lot of time finding out how SAP likes to do something, and then working within that framework.

I left SAP because I live in Phoenix and don't want to travel all of the time for work.  There is not a lot of SAP in this town.  Plus, in 2001 the bottom dropped out of the SAP consulting market.  I finished up a long term contract and moved on to other things.  I hear that things are improving recently for SAP projects.  Basis people seem to have more opportunities.  Basis is system administration for SAP.  No programming.  

As a language, ABAP is not particularly elegant but has matured over the years.  They have something called ABAP Objects that was introduce a few years ago.  Most books I found for ABAP were of poor quality or incomplete, a big departure from VB books.

What else do you want to know?
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Hamzat57Commented:
Basis people seem to have more opportunities : Which is more profitable and has more longjevity as per career wise ? Functional or administration.
What kind of pay are we taking about in Socal ?
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upwardboundCommented:
The good thing about Basis is it is needed by any SAP installation.  The bad thing about it is that it can be easily replaced.  It does not required as much business functional knowledge.  You can look on dice.com or computerjobs.com for SAP jobs to get an idea about salaries - probably anywhere from $40-100K.  If you have experience and don't mind traveling, you can make more money doing contract work - especially in Basis.  Programming or functional work requires experience in the specific modules that a company has.  And you usually need to follow the projects.  Many companies do an implementation and then don't need so many people when in maintenance mode.  The key is to get experience.  Find a company that is willing to train.

Which is more profitable? It all depends.  You have to find the work.  Programmers can do well if they have experience in the needed modules (ie. Financials, or Business Warehouse).  Basis jobs are more common but can be less sticky since there are other basis people out there who can take over.  At my former employer, they had a Senior Basis guy who really knew his stuff and got paid big bucks.  After the implementation was over, he got laid off and the junior basis guy took over (he was good, just less experienced) at lower pay.
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