Salesforce certification guide: Your path to a lucrative career

Salesforce certification is a great way to get ahead by proving your skills on one of the hottest CRM platforms today. Our guide to the most valuable Salesforce certifications will help you kick-start your Salesforce career.

Salesforce certification guide: Your path to a lucrative career
hunur / Getty Images / Thinkstock / Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the fastest-growing, most in-demand skillsets today. From software developers, to solutions architects, to project managers and marketing and sales professionals, Salesforce skills pay off for a variety of roles.

If you’re looking to land a new job, earn a raise or secure a promotion, Salesforce certification is a great career move, says Meagan Humphrey, VP of sales and recruiting enablement at IT recruiting and staffing firm Mondo.

Following is a guide to Salesforce’s array of certifications and how achieving one or more can help take your career — and take-home pay — to the next level.

Benefits of Salesforce certification

“Salesforce certifications offer three big value adds,” Humphrey says. “They increase your marketability in a tight IT job market by allowing you to become a subject matter expert. They offer flexibility in that you can get certified in just a few hours, days or months and you can control your own career path. You can get just one or a bunch of certifications. And the more certifications you add, the higher salary or hourly rate you can command.”

Salesforce roles range from the technical (architects, developers, implementation experts) to those related to marketing and sales. Each role varies in terms of the required depth of understanding of Salesforce’s platform.

Jobs that request Salesforce skills pay on average more than $70,000 per year, with Salesforce developers commanding $100,000 on average, according to Burning Glass. Salesforce sales roles offer 8 percent higher salaries than other sales roles, and IT roles that require Salesforce skills carry an 11 percent salary premium. Advanced skills, such as Visualforce and Sales Cloud, command salaries over $100,000.

A 2019 report from Indeed.com lists Salesforce Developer as its No. 10 “Best Jobs of 2019,” with an average salary of $112,031. Salesforce Developer jobs have seen a 129 percent growth in number of job postings between 2015 and 2018, according to Indeed.

Salesforce certification overview

Salesforce offers a variety of certifications targeted at a range of job functions, including:

  • Administrators
  • Architects
  • Developers
  • Marketers
  • Consultants

Most tracks offer individual certifications that demonstrate expertise in a given domain. The Salesforce Architect track, however, is unique in that candidates can earn individual certifications or they can bundle together these earned certifications (aka specializations) in pursuit of higher-tier certification, such as the Salesforce Certified Application Architect or the Salesforce Certified System Architect. Professionals who pursue both of these architect tracks can then achieve the pinnacle Salesforce Certified Technical Architect.

Salesforce administrator certifications

Salesforce offers two levels of administrator credentials. Both focus on administrative functions, including defining user requirements, customizing the Salesforce platform, and helping users to get the most out of the solutions. In addition, administrators can earn certificates centered on app building and CPQ (configure price quote).

Salesforce Administrator

To earn this certification, candidates should have extensive knowledge of Salesforce customization and configuration and be skilled at managing users and getting the most out of the platform’s capabilities. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 90 minutes. To pass, you need to know how to: manage users, data, and security; maintain and customize Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications; and build reports, dashboards, and workflows.

Price: $200; retake fee, $100

Prerequisites: None

Recommended courses: Administration Essentials for New AdminsAdministration Essentials for New Administrators and CertificationCertification Preparation for Administrator

Salesforce Advanced Administrator

Candidates should have experience using the advanced administration capabilities in Salesforce and be highly proficient in designing advanced reports, dashboards and automation processes. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 90 minutes. To pass the exam, you need to know how to: leverage the advanced administration capabilities of Salesforce; optimize and extend Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications; design advanced reports, dashboards, and business process automation.

Price: $200; retake fee, $100

Prerequisites: Salesforce Certified Administrator status

Recommended courses: Administration Essentials for Experienced Admins, Certification Preparation for Advanced Administrator

Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist

This certification recognizes professionals who implement Salesforce CPQ solutions, design and build quoting flows to meet customer requirements, and troubleshoot platform issues. The Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist generally has six to twelve months of experience in a CPQ Specialist role, and has experience with the Salesforce CPQ platform, CPQ terminology, and can troubleshoot and solve basic platform issues.

Salesforce CPQ Specialists should know how to build solutions to support business processes, troubleshoot and solve basic platform issues, configure bundles (for example, features, options, option constraints, configuration attributes), product rules, price rules, discount schedules, block pricing, cost, contracted prices, quote templates, quote processes, and custom actions. They also should be knowledgeable about CPQ’s object data model, CPQ package level settings, and price waterfall. Candidates will have 105 minutes to complete 60 multiple choice questions on the exam.

Price: $200; retake fee, $100

Prerequisites: None

Recommended courses: Salesforce CPQ Essentials for New Administrators; Salesforce CPQ Essentials for Experienced Administrators

Salesforce Certified Platform Application Builder

The Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder credential requires the ability to design, build and implement custom applications on the Force.com platform. This credential requires more programming and engineering skills than others in the Certified Administrator track. This skillset involves extensive knowledge of the declarative development and customization functions available on the platform. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 90 minutes. To pass the exam, you need to know how to: design the data model, user interface, business logic and security for custom applications; customize applications for mobile use; design reports and dashboards; and deploy custom applications.

Price: $200; retake fee, $100

Prerequisites: None

Recommended courses: Declarative Development for Platform App Builders, Certification Preparation for Platform App Builder

Salesforce developer certifications

Salesforce developer credentials are for professionals with knowledge, skills and experience building custom declarative and programmatic applications on the Force.com platform. This track includes the Salesforce Certified Platform Application Builder, which can also be applied to the Salesforce Administrator track. There are two types of developer certifications: the two-tiered platform developer credentials and one aimed at developing ecommerce solutions.

Salesforce Certified Platform Application Builder

See entry in “Salesforce administrator certifications” section above.

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I

To pass this exam, candidates must know how to design the data model, user interface, business logic, and security for custom applications, and be able to develop custom applications using Apex and Visualforce. Candidates must also be familiar with the development lifecycle and have knowledge of the available environments. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 105 minutes.

Price: $200; retake fee, $100

Prerequisites: None

Recommended courses: Programmatic Development Using Apex and VisualforceCertification Preparation for Platform Develop I

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II

Candidates must be experts in the advanced programmatic capabilities of the Force.com platform and data modeling so they can develop complex business logic and interfaces on the platform. The certification process has three components: a multiple-choice exam, a programming assignment and an essay exam.

To pass the exam, candidates must be able to design, develop, test and deploy easily maintainable, robust and reusable programmatic solutions. They must also be able to follow Apex design patterns and object-oriented programming best practices. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions in 120 minutes. For the programming assignment, candidates must use Apex and Visualforce to create application components based on a set of preconfigured business requirements in 30 days. The essay exam consists of three questions related to the programming assignment solution that candidates must complete in 60 minutes in a proctored environment.

Price: $400; retake fee, $200

Prerequisites: Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I certification, Apex Specialist superbadge, Data Integration Specialist superbadge, Aura Components Specialist superbadge, Advanced Apex Specialist superbadge

Salesforce Certified B2C Commerce Developer

Candidates should be experienced full-stack developers for Salesforce B2C Commerce Digital. It is geared toward those who develop ecommerce solutions and are adept at setting up the development environment, working with the Digital data model, working with site content, using Salesforce Business Manager to perform site configuration tasks, using scripts to extend site business logic, interacting with external applications, optimizing site performance and troubleshooting. The multiple-choice exam consists of 60 questions in 105 minutes.

Price: $400; retake fee, $200

Prerequisites: None

Recommended courses: Commerce Cloud B2C Commerce Overview, Commerce Cloud Digital Architecture Overiew, Developing for Salesforce B2C Commerce

Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Developer

Certified Marketing Cloud Developers have hands-on experience developing across the full Salesforce platform. Candidates should have hands-on experience as a full-stack developer for Marketing Cloud and should be able to create personalized, dynamic marketing and sales messages, landing pages, be fluent in Marketing Cloud scripting languages, and have experience with data configuration, data manipulation and advanced segmentation, as well as reporting and analytics.

The Marketing Cloud developer is knowledgeable in subscriber management across channels and has the ability to troubleshoot various programmatic languages that guide the design of both tactical and strategic e-mail campaigns. In addition, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Developer generally has at least a year of experience developing for Marketing Cloud and associated tools. However, a candidate for this exam is not expected to know MobilePush SDK, Journey Builder SDK, custom components and does not need to know how to configure Marketing Cloud Connect. Candidates will have 105 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions

Price: $200; retake fee, $100
Prerequisites: Marketing Cloud Email Specialist

Recommended courses: Develop for Marketing Cloud

Salesforce architect certifications

For architects, Salesforce offers a three-tier system of certifications. At the base level are several designer-related certifications:

  • Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer
  • Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer
  • Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer
  • Certified Identity and Access Management Designer
  • Certified Integration Architecture Designer
  • Certified Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer
  • Certified Platform Application Builder
  • Certified Platform Developer I

Architects who have earned a specific set of certifications from the Designer, Developer and App Builder tracks can then pursue a Domain Architect certification as either Application Architects or System Architects. Salesforce Certified Technical Architects, the top tier, combine both Domain Architecture tracks, demonstrating knowledge, skills, and capabilities across all available domains.

Salesforce Certified Application Architect

This certification requires a deep understanding of native Salesforce features and functionality, as well as the ability to model a role hierarchy, data model, and appropriate sharing mechanisms. To earn this credential, architects must complete four certifications, each of which has its own associated exam and fee.

Price: No additional exam is required to receive this certification

Prerequisites: Salesforce Certified Data Architecture and Management DesignerSalesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer, Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I (see above), Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder (see above)

Salesforce Certified System Architect  

The certification emphasizes system testing, governance and integration with external systems within an organization’s infrastructure. To earn this credential, architects must complete four certifications, each of which has its own associated exam and fee.

Price: No additional exam is required to receive this certification

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