Have you been working diligently as an administrator or consultant on the Salesforce platform but lack the official Salesforce credential? Getting certified could be the answer. It is well-known that a huge variety of industries utilize Salesforce as their primary customer relationship management (CRM) database. While you may have experience in that specific industry, having a dedicated certification for Salesforce could be key to a better job in your company or with clients.
A 2023 IDC study revealed that Salesforce-certified professionals with additional training showed 68% more efficiency, and they could map process requirements 30% faster, leading to faster solution development and quicker time-to-business value. The productivity impact of employees with certification is higher and companies are taking notice, due to the deep amount of functionality in the software. Certification helps employees organize their learning efforts in a structured manner and show commitment to becoming a Salesforce expert for their organization.
The Certification Path
There are several types of role-based exam paths for those interested in being Salesforce-certified. Below we highlight two of them:
|Administrator Certification||Consultant Certification|
|Associate||Sales Cloud Consultant|
|Administrator||Service Cloud Consultant|
|Advanced Administrator||Experience Cloud Consultant|
|Platform App Builder||Field Service Consultant|
|CPQ Specialist||Non-Profit Cloud Consultant|
|Business Analyst||Education Cloud Consultant|
| ||Business Analyst|
Simply put, admin certifications are about what you “can do” in Salesforce. The Associate credential is a beginner path that can be done before doing the baseline Administrator certification. Those seeking more learning and efficiency in Salesforce should plan on doing the advanced certification. As for the Platform App Builder, the certification helps admins who want to enhance Salesforce with company or industry specific applications.
Admins can also get CPQ certification, which is good if you work in configure, price, quote (CPQ) processes or use a CPQ solution. And finally, the Business Analyst credential is for those who collaborate with business stakeholders to develop Salesforce solutions that drive business improvements.
For consultants, certifications are about what you “should do” in Salesforce. You should have a strong working knowledge before you start down this path, as it is more challenging than the admin exams.
The Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Experience Cloud Consultant credentials are designed specifically for those implementations in a customer-facing role. These certifications focus on professionals who consult with customers on field service operations. The Business Analyst credential is a deeper version of the admin certification. The Non-Profit and Education credentials are for those who are using Salesforce in the non-profit and education industries.
In terms of time commitment, it depends on how many credentials you decide to get. The average time to obtain a Salesforce certification is 6-8 weeks, although the preparation time depends on the person’s level of knowledge. The Trailhead Academy website says it takes an average of 68 hours to complete the modules, tasks, and projects. Some people take less time, some take more. It simply depends on your experience and availability to study and learn.
Using Trailhead to Prepare for Exams
Trailhead Academy is a free Salesforce-led teaching program for those who want to get certified. The academy is led by Salesforce experts through both in-person and online classes that include real-world scenarios, hands-on exercises, and live Q&A sessions. Trailhead also offers Trailblazer Virtual Bootcamps that combine self-paced content and twice-weekly live sessions with a Salesforce Certified Instructor.
The credential programs offer classes by roles (admins, consultants, and more). You can learn at your own pace and follow different trails and trailmixes on route to your certification. You can even create your own custom trailmixes aimed at giving you a more in-depth understanding in certain areas of interest in Salesforce. The trail mixes are specifically designed for the tests. If you understand the topics of the trailmix, you will pass the test. Within the Trailhead Community, you can engage with other “trailblazers” and find study groups and other buddies to help you along the way.
Of course, there are other Salesforce certification academies out there if you prefer to pay for learning. But most people use the indepth and well-curated Trailhead Academy to gain their credentials.
Now that you’ve completed the Trailhead Academy for your specific credential, it’s time to focus on study guides, practice tests, and other prep sessions offered on Trailhead in their various trailmixes. The exam guide supplies all the key details needed, including a full content overview, exam time allotment, and all the other details you’ll want to know.
Most importantly, the interactive practice test gives you the opportunity to experience the format and questions from the test firsthand. There’s a free test you can take multiple times, as well as a paid test that many people have said has almost the same questions as the actual exam. It may be worth the purchase. The important element to the practice tests is understanding the format of the exam so you are familiar with the way it poses questions.
It’s important to stick with whichever academy you have chosen. You can supplement the free Trailhead Academy with some paid bootcamps or 1:1 sessions. But stick with one resource as much as possible. Do not be tempted to start googling trailmixes in the middle of preparation. Stick with what you’ve chosen.
Experience in Salesforce Helps
While you will learn a lot in the academy, it helps to go in with experience using Salesforce and third-party tools. You can move through the earlier Trailhead classes if you’ve been working in Salesforce for several months or years.
For example, understanding applications like DataGroomr can be a powerful AI-based deduplication tool for users to identify and eliminate or merge duplicate entries within Salesforce without the need for complex rules or normalize data.
Ready, Set, Take It
Taking exams can make even the most experienced user nervous. Start with a confident and positive mindset and trust your test preparation. Give yourself a chance to do well on it. And if you don’t pass the first time, do not give up!
All Salesforce certifications require time and effort to pass. The passing percentage for the Salesforce Admin certification exam is 65% (the consultant exam is 68%); so it’s not the toughest exam in the world, but it’s not simple either. The certification exam is made up of 60 multiple-choice/multi-select questions (which means you must get at least 39 correct to pass) with 105 Minutes to complete it. It can be taken online or in person, whichever you prefer. It costs $200 with retake fees at $100.
Like with any test, take the time to check all of your answers before submitting the exam. Each question is scored equally irrespective of whether it is a single or multi-select question.
Once you have the Salesforce Administrator credential, you are expected to maintain it each year by completing the maintenance trailhead module by a set due date. There is no cost associated with maintaining this certification.
Enjoy the Benefits
For a more agile and efficient Salesforce ecosystem, it’s best to have people professionally certified with deep knowledge of the way the software works. A well-trained force makes process improvements faster and more seamless. Companies are willing to pay for these credentialed individuals; so it is worth your time and effort to become Salesforce certified. Good luck!