Salesforce certification: Your guide to a lucrative Salesforce 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 technical Salesforce certifications will help you kick-start your Salesforce career.

Salesforce certification: Your guide to a lucrative Salesforce careers
REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Salesforce certification can be a one-way ticket to a lucrative career. Salesforce is fully entrenched as the CRM platform of choice at many organizations, making it one of the fastest-growing, most in-demand skill sets today. From software developers, solutions architects and designers to project managers and marketing and sales professionals, Salesforce certification can benefit almost every professional.

"Salesforce certifications offer three big value adds: 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," says Meagan Humphrey, director of sales operations, IT recruiting and staffing firm Mondo.

Salesforce certifications fall into several categories, ranging from the technical (architects, developers, administrators) to those aimed at marketing and sales professionals. Here, we've compiled a list of the four Salesforce technical certification tracks, as well as a breakdown of what to expect on each exam, what prerequisites they require, and how much each Salesforce certification costs, to help you navigate the best education and certification path for your career.

1. Salesforce Certified Administrator

Salesforce offers two levels of administrator credentials: Certified Administrator and Certified Advanced Administrator. Both certifications are for professionals who focus on administrative functions of an existing Salesforce solution, including defining user requirements, customizing the Salesforce platform for the unique needs of each implementation and helping users to get the most out of the solutions.

Salesforce Certified Administrator

The Salesforce Certified Administrator Credential is for candidates with extensive knowledge of Salesforce customization and configuration who also are skilled at managing users and exploring how to get the most out of the platforms capabilities.

To pass the exam, you'll need to know how to do the following:

  • Manage users, data, and security
  • Maintain and customize Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications
  • Build reports, dashboards, and workflows

Salesforce Certified Administration exam:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 65 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

Salesforce Certified Administration prerequisites:

No prerequisites are required for the Salesforce Certified Administrator exam, but Salesforce recommends taking the Administration Essentials for New Admins (ADM 201) and Administration Essentials for New Administrators and Certification (ADM 201C) courses and the online course Preparing for Your Salesforce Administrator Certification (CRT-101).

Salesforce Certified Advanced Administrator

The Advanced Administrator designation takes the skills and knowledge of the Salesforce Certified Administrator to the next level. Candidates should have experience using the advanced administration capabilities in Salesforce and be highly proficient in designing advanced reports, dashboards and automation processes.

To pass the exam, you'll need to achieve the following:

  • Leverage the advanced administration capabilities of Salesforce.
  • Optimize and extend Sales Cloud and Service Cloud applications.
  • Design advanced reports, dashboards, and business process automation.

Salesforce Certified Advanced Administration exam:

  • 63 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 65 perent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

Salesforce Certified Advanced Administration prerequisites:

Current status as a Salesforce Certified Administrator; and Salesforce recommends completing the Administration Essentials for Experienced Admins (ADM-211) course in advance.

2. Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder

The Salesforce Application Builder certification is for Salesforce professionals who design, build and implement custom applications on the Salesforce platform. This certification requires a more programming- and engineering-minded skillset than the Certified Administrator track.

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder

The Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder credential requires candidates to prove they have the skills and knowledge to design, build and implement custom applications on the Force.com platform. This skillset involves extensive knowledge of the declarative development and customization functions available on the platform, according to Salesforce.

To pass the exam, you need to know how to do the following:

  • Design the data model, user interface, business logic and security for custom applications
  • Customize applications for mobile use
  • Design reports and dashboards
  • Deploy custom applications

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder exam:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes to complete the exam
  • 65 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder prerequisites:

No prerequisites are required, however, Salesforce recommends completing the Declarative Development for Platform App Builders (DEV402) course in advance.

3. Salesforce Certified Architect

Salesforce-certified architect credentials are comprised of three tiers of certification: Architecture Designers, Domain Architects and Technical Architects.

Architecture Designers are certified based on their knowledge and expertise in one or multiple domain specializations, each of which has its own exam. The available domain specializations are: Salesforce Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer; Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer; Salesforce Certified Identity and Access Management Designer; Salesforce Certified Integration Architecture Designer; Salesforce Certified Mobile Solutions Architecture Designer; Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer.

Domain Architects are certified as either Salesforce Certified Application Architects, for which one needs deep understanding of native Salesforce features and functionality, or Salesforce Certified System Architects, which is geared more toward testing, governance and integration to other external systems.

Salesforce Certified Technical Architects demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and capabilities across all available domains to design technical solutions that maximize the Salesforce platform's potential.

Salesforce Certified Application Architect

This certification requires candidates to have deep understanding of native Salesforce features and functionality, as well as the ability to model a role hierarchy, data model, and appropriate sharing mechanisms, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce Certified Application Architect prerequisites:

There are several prerequisites for the Salesforce Certified Application Architect certification, including achieving certain domain certifications. Each domain specialization certification has its own associated exam. The required specializations for becoming a Salesforce Certified Application Architect are the following:

Salesforce Certified System Architect

The Salesforce Certified System Architect certification emphasizes system testing, governance and integration with external systems within an organization's infrastructure, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce Certified System Architect prerequisites:

The Certified System Architect certification also has domain specialization prerequisite certifications. Each domain specialization certification has its own associated exam. The required specializations for becoming a Salesforce Certified System Architect are:

Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)

This Salesforce Certified Technical Architect certification is the elite credential of the Salesforce Architect certification ecosystem, and requires a significant investment of time, energy and money. To achieve this certification, candidates need extensive experience, technical breadth and depth, presentation skills and the ability to synthesize Salesforce solutions that span the entire platform, according to Salesforce.

The Salesforce Certified Technical Architect possesses broad knowledge across multiple development platforms and has achieved certification in all specialized domains. The CTA certification draws on candidates' extensive skills and experience to assess customer requirements and architecture in order to design secure, high-performance technical solutions, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce Certified Technical Architect prerequisites:

The CTA certification has extensive prerequisites:

Once you have achieved the prerequisites, you will be qualified to take the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect Certification Review Board Exam. To pass this exam, you'll be required to design a recommended architecture solution based on a fictional client and hypothetical customer requirements. You will be asked to explain and justify why and how you built your solution.

4. Salesforce Certified Developer

There are three tiers for the Salesforce Certified Developer certification: Salesforce Certified Commerce Cloud Digital Developer, Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I, and Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II. These credentials are for professionals with knowledge, skills and experience in using the Commerce Cloud Digital to develop an e-commerce solutions or in building custom declarative and programmatic applications on the Force.com platform, according to Salesforce.

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I credential requires candidates to have the knowledge, skills and experience to build custom declarative and programmatic applications on the Force.com platform, according to Salesforce.

To pass the exam, you need to know how to do the following:

  • Design the data model, user interface, business logic, and security for custom applications
  • Develop custom applications using Apex and Visualforce
  • Be familiar with the development lifecycle from development to testing, and have knowledge of the available environments

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I exam:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 105 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 68 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites; however, Salesforce recommends taking the Programmatic Development Using Apex and Visualforce (DEV 450) course in advance

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II requires candidates to 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, according to Salesforce.

The Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II credential has three components; a multiple-choice exam, a programming assignment and an essay exam. You must pass the multiple-choice exam before you can move on to the programming assignment.

To pass the exam, you must know how to do the following:

  • Design, develop, test and deploy easily maintainable, robust and reusable programmatic solutions
  • Follow Apex design patterns and object-oriented programming best practices

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II exam:

  • Multiple-choice Exam: 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 120 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 63 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $400
  • Retake fee is $200
  • No hard-copy or online materials may be referenced during the exam

Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II prerequisites: 

Current status as a Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I.

Salesforce Certified Commerce Cloud Digital Developer

The Salesforce Certified Commerce Cloud Digital Developer credential is aimed at those with full-stack development experience for Salesforce Commerce Cloud Digital. 

To pass the exam, you must know to do the following:

  • Troubleshoot file synchronization issues
  • Work with product data models to manage products and inventory
  • Modify site search to enable searching for specific product attributes
  • Create custom object types to store a custom data types
  • Configure OCAPI permissions for Data and Shop APIs
  • Create JavaScript controllers to leverage a script and render a template/JSON

Salesforce Certified Commerce Cloud Digital Developer exam:

  • 60 multiple-choice questions
  • 110 minutes allotted to complete the exam
  • 70 percent is the passing score
  • Registration fee is $200
  • Retake fee is $100
  • No hard-copy or online materials may be referenced during the exam

Related Video

NEW! Download the Winter 2018 digital edition of CIO magazine