SAP job market, localization and language skills

SAP is a global company by itself, and its products like SAP ERP, SAP S/4HANA, SuccessFactors, Ariba, Concur are used globally.

There are many languages in the world, but English became de-facto the language of international collaboration.

It means that most of SAP product documentation is written in English with other languages following at a later stage, if at all. If you want to successfully work on SAP market, you need to know English at least on the level of documentation reading and understanding.

However, it does not mean that English is the only language you need to know if you want to find a job on SAP market. Other languages are also beneficial if not mandatory in many cases. And not language alone is a factor of successful job search here.

I am not talking about visa and travel restrictions here. We leave these behind the brackets, even though this is a very serious restrictive factor for an international job search.

Knowing country local specifics and knowing how SAP localized its product to meet the local requirements are also very important aspects in job search.

Let’s get an overview of SAP job market from the point of view of localization and languages skills.

1. English is enough

There are many countries where English knowledge will suffice for the job hunt. These are mostly developed countries where English is the main language and local requirements are not that restrictive. United Kingdom, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore are among these.

2. English is good, but something else is needed

There are countries where English is widely used in the society, but local language is still present. The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, UAE are among these. You have better chances to get a job if you know local language.

There are also some countries which most likely require you some knowledge of local requirements for being successful in job search. This may be India or South Africa, for example.

3. Local language is a king

There are many well-developed counties which stick to local language and prefer to use it in SAP projects. These are mostly Spanish-, French- and Arabic-speaking countries like France, Belgium, Morocco, Spain, Mexico, but let’s not forget Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and so on.

4. Local language and local knowledge

Many countries in our world have very specific local laws for accounting, HR processes, and some other. These laws are usually written in local language and require reporting forms in local language. This means the SAP consultant not only must know the local language, but should also be familiar with local laws and functional localization. These are Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece, Brazil, and so on.

And then, there is more…

Of course, this is not the comprehensive and strict classification of countries and job markets. Many things also depend on your skills. For example, a person with rare skills is more likely to find a job even without local language knowledge. Knowledge of local language and local requirements may benefit someone even without English or deep functional knowledge.

There is also a dependency on the functional area. HR and Finance areas more likely require language and localization skills than Basis or Logistics.

Another thing to remember here is that the sword is double-edged. If you have worked in the countries where English is well-accepted, you are very likely to find a job in the same “set” of countries, whereas you will struggle to find job in countries with high demand on localization knowledge. And vice versa. If you are a local professional with a good knowledge of Russian or Brazilian localization, your skills will be less in demand in English-speaking countries.

Have you experienced difficulties linked to the lack of language or localization knowledge in your job search?

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