Beginner’s Guide to Salesforce Certification

Beginner_39_s_Guide_to_Salesforce_CertificationThere are two questions that I get asked on a regular basis:

“Do I have the skills to become a Salesforce Administrator?” and “I want to get my Salesforce certification. Should I go Admin or Developer?”

After seeing an increased number of these questions over the past few weeks, I figured that I would provide some details around certification that would answer these questions for you and provide enough context to help you make an informed decision.

On Being a Skilled Salesforce Administrator

5 Steps to Jump-Start Your Salesforce Career is by far the most popular post on Admin Hero. If you take a moment to read through the hundreds of comments, you’ll notice that the question of whether an individual has the experience to become a Salesforce Administrator gets asked a lot. And for those that don’t have prior experience in Salesforce or CRM, it’s a valid question.

While responding to a commenter a while back, I felt like I had to express to the individual that being a great Salesforce Administrator doesn’t require a whole lot of learned skills. Any experience you have had in the past, regardless of what it is, will play into your role to some degree. Here was my response:

 

On Being a Skilled Admin Small Quote

In my own personal experience, this is true. If you need additional validation, just read the stories which are a part of the Origins series; where Salesforce Administrators tell the story of how they got into Salesforce. You’ll notice a common theme. Every Administrator who provided their story had a background in something other than Salesforce an took on the challenge to learn the platform. They come from all walks of life, fell in love with Salesforce and committed to become awesome at their new found passion.

So, if you are wondering if you have what it takes to become a Salesforce Administrator, let me tell you that you do! You just need to light a fire under your butt to get the drive and motivation burning within in order to take the leap and go for it.

Salesforce Certification & Your Career

Being a certified Salesforce professional is, of course, very important. I’ve talked about this in The Importance of Salesforce Certification. Data shows that the majority of companies are requiring at least a base level certification in all of their job postings.

The Denver User Group has conducted an annual salary survey for a few years now and we have seen that the general salary lift you can expect (in Denver of course) when going from zero to one certification is close to $20,000 a year! There is no doubt that you should become certified if you want to play in the Salesforce space for a while.

But of course, if you have decided to get certified, the next step can be confusing. There are multiple certifications and related classes, little information on how the certification process works and seemingly very few resources to help you understand the next steps and how to prepare. So, let’s see if I can provide some insights into your Salesforce Certification options.

Administrator vs Developer Certification

These are the two most popular certification tracks offered by Salesforce.

The Administrator track currently comprises of two certifications: Salesforce Administrator (ADM201) and Advanced Administrator (ADM211). There are no prerequisites for ADM201, but you must have successfully passed the ADM201 certification in order to take ADM211.

On the Developer side, the same is true. The Force.com Developer (DEV401) and the Force.com Advanced Developer (DEV501) make up the Developer track. DEV401 does not have any prerequisites, but to take the DEV501 exam, you must have DEV401 certification in place.

All pretty cut and dry. The confusion happens when you try to “cross the streams” as it were. Let’s say that I earn the ADM201 certification and now I want to get my DEV501 next. This can’t happen until I pass the DEV401 exam. However, if I pass the ADM201 certification and I now want to earn my DEV401 certification, I can do that without any issues.

While the hierarchy of the certifications in each track are straight forward, there still seems to be confusion on how the two overlap. What is the real difference between the two tracks?

What’s the Difference?

The Admin certification focuses more on the day-to-day areas of Salesforce. For example, it will test you on your understanding of the Salesforce security model; how to best manage users, setting up features like Territory Management and even how to create workflow rules. The Advanced Admin Certification focuses on similar concepts, but takes it to a more complex level.

On the Developer side, particularly the DEV401 certification, the exam will test your knowledge and skills in what is called “declarative development.” This is how most Administrators build configuration in Salesforce. It’s clicks, not code. For example, how do you create a custom object and field? How would you solve a business problem using configuration? While you don’t need to know code for this exam, you do need to know when code would be used; when it’s an appropriate solution in addition to or in place of declarative development.

What I Recommend

Personally, I recommend that every Salesforce Administrator take the Administrator, Advanced Administrator and Developer certifications. Between all three of these certifications, you’ll show that you have an excellent understanding of the features and functionality of the application, along with a knowledge of the Salesforce database structure and how to build on it.

You can start out with DEV401 or ADM201 – either one is fine. I personally took ADM201, then ADM211 then DEV401 but you can start with what makes the most sense for yourself based on your career goals.

How to Study for Certification

Before doing anything, head over to the Certification page on the Salesforce website. There you’ll find all of the details of the certification program, official Salesforce training being offered in your area, and access the Certification Verification tool which allows you to check the validity of a person’s certifications.

On the Salesforce Certification site, you’ll find an up-to-date study guide. This guide is more of an outline of the exam with topics that will be covered and the weight of each topic. The higher the weight, the more questions will generally be asked on the topic. Print out the study guide and use this as your sherpa. Determine the areas on the outline that you are not proficient in and begin focusing in on those areas.

Now that you have an idea of what is on the exam, here’s how to prepare.

Official Training Programs

Salesforce offers a great training class for every one of it’s certifications. It should be noted that the intent of these classes is not meant to prepare you 100% for the exam. While the classes do cover a decent amount of the exam competencies, you will still be responsible for filling in the gaps. While I personally have found value out of these classes, they can be price prohibitive.

Partner organizations, like Stoney Point offer similar classes at a fraction of the cost and are a good alternative if the budget is tight. However, be careful when selecting a partner organization. You want to ensure that they have a good track record and former class participants found the content helpful and worth paying for.

There is a free version of a training program offered by experienced Salesforce professionals and I’ll cover this more in the Community resources section below.

Self Study

Those of you who are real go-getters may be more inclined to study at your own pace using Salesforce’s extensive documentation. Help & Training and is a great way to focus your attention on specific features or functionality of Salesforce. You may also want to see what is available on the Salesforce Developer site where all of the workbooks and technical documentation for Salesforce is housed.

Regardless of the study method you choose, self-study will be a part of your learning process. Be sure that the information you are using is accurate by sticking with the official Salesforce resources as much as possible.

Community Documentation

There is an endless amount of certification study material available. From sites like Admin Hero to YouTube, there is an endless supply of information. However, I want to provide you with a healthy dose of caution. There are great community resources available, and there are others that are not so great.

Focus your efforts on the Success Community and well-known community resources like Admin Hero. Check out my Resources page for a list of community sites and resources that I think are accurate and well worth your time. In addition, you may also want to consider joining the community-led Salesforce Certification Study Group.

This group is run by Certified Salesforce community members who volunteer their time to facilitate a virtual study group. There is a formal program which lasts about 16 weeks and includes homework which you complete on a weekly basis in your own Developer org. Once every week, you’ll meet with your other study group members and the facilitator and talk about your homework, have the ability to ask questions and so on.

This group does a phenomenal job at helping other community members pass their certification exams so take a look if that is something that interests you.

If there is one thing I want you to be wary of, it is the practice certification exams.

These tests tend to be out of date, are not real Salesforce exam questions and can lead you into a situation where you experience a false positive. What I mean by that is that you could “pass” the test exam, feel confident in your knowledge, then go right into the actual exam and fail. That is because these practice exams tend to not be accurate.

Words of Wisdom

I hope that this information has been helpful and cleared up some of your questions. Getting started down the certification path is exciting and daunting at the same time. Before the post ends, let me encourage you to get moving; to make your dreams a reality.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pass the first time. I failed my first certification exam and nearly lost my Admin Certification when I failed two of my three maintenance exams. But I buckled down, did the hard work and succeeded in earning (and keeping) not just one, but three certifications.

Please don’t feel like you need to rush into getting your certification either. Give yourself about 6 months of learning before you even tackle an exam. A certification is meaningless if you don’t know how to use the information you were tested on. Volunteer with an organization or shadow a successful Salesforce Administrator. You’ll learn so much more by doing this than you will with self-study alone.

So with that, go and be great! You are going to make an awesome Admin Hero!

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95 Comments


  1. Steve Early

    July 20, 2015 at 9:42 am

    While I will admit that some of the practice exam questions can be out of date, I found that taking practice exams was extremely helpful in getting me accustomed to the kind of questions I might expect to get on the certification exam. If you resist the temptation to assume that the “right answers” are actually correct, you can use practice exams to your advantage. I encourage people to research the practice exam answers to determine whether they are indeed correct. You’ll learn a lot about why something is right or wrong and that too will be very helpful.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Great point Steve! As long as you don’t think of these practice exams as 100% factual, they may work. I personally found that they were out of date and it became too much work to try and validate the information so I personally don’t use them. I’d rather focus my time studying the source material to ensure accuracy and efficiency. If practice exams are used, I would encourage the user to validate the details.

      Reply

  2. Sravanthi

    July 20, 2015 at 9:50 am

    It’s so helpful for who want’s to join in salesforce thank u..

    Reply

  3. Simran

    July 20, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Hi Brent,

    Thank you so much for this emboldening post !! Every time, I read your posts, I get inspired to learn Salesforce with zeal and vigour.
    You rock man \m/ !! A true (Admin) Hero 🙂

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 21, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      That is very nice Simran! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate you reading!

      Reply

  4. Jhomann Careon

    July 20, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Brent,
    Thanks for you blogs and tips. I just started my new job today as a Salesforce admin and keen to begin my salesforce certification training. I know weird right…I landed a job without being certified. Anyway, I will be learning thru trailhead and collecting the badges. My question is, by completing trailhead and collecting badges, does that warrant a Salesforce certifcation? Or is it separate?

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Great question! Trailhead is not a replacement for certification. I would anticipate that longer term, it would become an official study channel, but not a replacement. However, I suppose you could use the badges to help validate your knowledge in those specific areas where you’ve completed the trail. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you reading!

      Reply

  5. Bobby Capulong

    July 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Brent, you’ve done a really nice job with this Beginner’s Guide to SFDC Certification and would agree with a lot of your points. I’m certain this will add value to those putting together a Certification plan.

    I’m only now finding out about the proposed Developer Certifications changes being rolled out by Dreamforce ’15. In fairness to those planning, it might be something you’d consider amending to your guide:

    https://www.salesforce.com/campaigns/success-services/developer-certification.jsp

    http://certification.force.com/pkb/articles/Public_KB/FAQ-New-App-Builder-and-Platform-Developer-Credentials

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 21, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks for the information Bobby! I knew that some changes were on their way, but hadn’t heard anything yet. I’ll read through the documentation and update accordingly! Appreciate it.

      Reply

  6. Lauren

    July 23, 2015 at 5:40 am

    I am considering using Trailhead to prepare for the ADM201 exam. I’ve been the system admin for my company’s org for about 18 months. In your experience, do you think Trailhead is an adequate preparation tool for this exam? Thanks for this incredibly helpful post!

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 27, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Hi Lauren! I think that Trailhead, like any other training materials, is an excellent resource. However, I would not consider it, or any other individual resource as the only resource you should use to study. Be sure to diversify your training materials for optimal results!

      Reply

  7. Lynn

    July 27, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Hi Brent, Thanks soo much for the advice. I’ve been trying to study on my own and have found it to be very confusing. Your post has some great information. It’s difficult because I am not a Salesforce Admin and I am trying to learn using the training that is available online. Hopefully I can practice enough and get started with my Admin201 certificaton.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 27, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Awesome Lynn! I am excited for you and I hope that things go well. Good luck in your journey!

      Reply

  8. RCH

    August 18, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Hi Brent — does one really need the recommended 6 months of OTJ admin experience before attempting the ADM201 certification? I’ve completed the 6+ hour Admin training online (with the 10+ hours of detailed exercises) and plan to do some more self-study. For what it’s worth, I’m a few levels senior to the Admin role but wish to have deep platform insight and certification, so I won’t be day-to-day but will be involved in the more strategic uses across our business.

    Said another way, do you see any harm in attempting to certify sooner than later?

    Having led the selection and implementation of hybris B2B eCom, I’m totally blown away by SF — and especially its community — just phenomenal.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 18, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Thanks for your comment! Six months is a suggested time frame because, for brand new Administrators who may not have any experience with the platform, six months is enough time to learn the terminology and get familiar with the tool prior to taking any of the exams or certification classes. If you feel ready to take the exam, then I would say go for it! It sounds like you probably have a bit more knowledge under your belt than a “new” admin. Good luck!

      Reply

  9. Richa Jain

    September 3, 2015 at 12:25 am

    I did masters in commerce & Business Administration. Have 5 years of working experience. I would like start my career in salesforce. What are the basic steps for a fresher to start career in salesforce and from where should i start. Please suggest?

    Reply

  10. Richa

    September 3, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Brent,

    Can we do it online? If yes, kindly provide me the link for the same. And if no, Can you please tell me about the fee structure for the course. From where, I can learn this course (any institute or online class). What about the

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      September 4, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Hello Richa! There are online training options available. Check the links in the post above. Pricing information is all there on the Salesforce Certification website.

      Reply

  11. Richa Jain

    September 3, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    What about the Certification?

    Reply

  12. Disha

    October 3, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Hi Brent,

    Which amongst the two is a better option, sales force admin or a sales force developer? I’m completely new to this stream having no idea of what to choose between the two.Thanks!

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      October 7, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Hi Disha! It totally depends. Both build functionality in Salesforce, but the touch level of an Administrator with the Business is much higher than a developer. So, if you would prefer to interact with fewer people, perhaps Developer is the way to go. Of course, if you don’t know a coding language, Developer may be a little less likely. Good luck!

      Reply

  13. Raj

    November 15, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Hi Brent ( A Salesforce Admin hero )

    I’m working as Microsoft windows admin from last five years and I’ would like to move Salesforce Admin.
    I’m yet to be start Salesforce training but before that if you can help me with some Salesforce admin self-study material or is there any websites available where I can get online study material to do my self-preparation for Salesforce Admin.

    Thanks for your timings and advising us !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Raj..

    Reply

  14. Angela

    November 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Brent,
    I have been a developer for many years. I am thinking to switch to Salesforce. I have been studying with the materials you mentioned above, watched youtube videos on dev 401, did the developer beginner trailhead, did quite a few practice exams from online. How do I know if I am ready for the exam?
    Another question, after I pass the App Builder certification, how do I find a Salesforce job? Or is it possible to find a Salesforce job? Thanks.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      November 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      How do you know if you’re ready? Sometimes, you just have to go for it! You can only study so much. At some point, you have to validate your knowledge and determine if it is good enough. If not, then at least you know what the exam was like, and you can study to the items that were unfamiliar. This is what I did with my first exam. I studied and failed the Admin exam. However, I didn’t walk away empty handed. I had an idea of how the questions were worded, and the content being covered. It allowed me to go back and study differently to accommodate the exam style. In terms of a job search, reach out to your local user group Leader and check the typical job boards. These jobs are everywhere!

      Reply

  15. Steve

    December 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the advice Brent. I have my exam on Monday and while I’ve studied the course notes from the adm201 not sure where to look to fill the gaps but now I can lean on YouTube and trailheads. I am interested in what you said about the developer stream as I dismissed it thinking it was all code based! So great advice there. Thanks

    Reply

  16. Ammara

    January 30, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Hello Sir,
    Thanks a million for your useful and informative website.
    I was wondering what programming languages one would need to know before jumping to learn to be a Sales Force developer please? Java? Html? Python? Could you please advise.

    Many Thanks for your answer.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      January 30, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Salesforce has developed their own programming language called Apex. It’s a similar language to Java (from what I’ve heard). So, if you have experience with object-oriented programming languages, Apex shouldn’t be too difficult to learn.

      Reply

  17. Yazz

    February 24, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Beautifully written article Brent. Thank you for all of the insight as I am about to embark on my SFDC Career Path.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 24, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m glad it was helpful.

      Reply

  18. Aniket

    April 7, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you so much, Its very helpful for people like me who wants to get certification and dont know from where to start… How many attempts are available to pass the certification exam?

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      April 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      There are no attempt limits, Aniket but you will need to pay for each retake. I believe the retake cost is $100 USD per attempt.

      Reply

  19. Vamshi

    May 4, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Hello Brent..How do you do ? Thats a great info.. Im an MBA finance with 5years exp as data research analyst..Plz tell me how far sales force admin can help my career grow..

    Reply

  20. Sarika

    May 23, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Hi Brent,
    Thanks for the info.. I’m an IT engineer fresher. Can I get job as salesforce administrator without any job experience?

    Reply

  21. Veena

    June 7, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Hi Brent,
    I am working as junior sales force administrator. I am planning to go for sales force certification very soon. But i am confuse with ADM201 & Platform App Builder. Are these both for admin or what is the difference? Which one is better for further career growth?Can you please suggest me for which exam should i go?

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      June 9, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Hi, Veena! The Salesforce Admin certification is broader in terms of the Salesforce knowledge you’re tested on, but it’s all book type knowledge. The App Builder Certification is a new certification that replaces the Dev401 Force.com Developer Cert and is more tactile (you need to know more specific how-to level information to complete that certification. Both are good for Admins, but I would focus on the Salesforce Admin Cert first, then look at App Builder.

      Reply

      • Veena

        June 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        Thanks for the information Brent. So u suggest ADM201 for me right now?

        Reply

  22. NIKHIL UPPAL

    July 7, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Sir ,i am still studying.i am doing Bachelors of engineering in India. I heard a a lot About salesforce and crm but i am don’t form where do i start with sales force. i am clear that i want tot be salesforce administration. I am new salesforce and doesn’t know any thing about it. I would be thankful to you if you could guide me that what should i do and from where do i start.

    Reply

  23. Fardin

    July 12, 2016 at 1:56 am

    Hi Brent,
    I have a 3.5Years of experience in PL/SQL developer.
    So is this experience will help me in salesforce learning as i am intrested to change my technology to salesforce.
    which will be good for me to take salesforce admin or developer as per my previous experience?

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

      Hi Fardin! I’m not familiar with that type of development, but I would suggest that learning Salesforce would be an easy transition. The platform is well documented (publicly) and there are a TON of resources to help you learn and get up to speed. Give it a go and see what you like and don’t like and don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet!

      Reply

  24. David Austin

    July 12, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Brent –

    I’m a developer already, and I want to develop for Salesforce (mainly integrations for touchscreen kiosks and other venues), not do Admin, but I read elsewhere that you should get the Admin201 before you do any of the other certifications. So I’ve invested all this time training for that (not done yet though) … Based on what you’re saying it sounds like Admin201 might be a waste for me. Is that right?

    Does the Admin201 provide much basis for what I want to do? Say if I did the Admin201 since I’m probably only 1-2 weeks from being ready for the test (keep in my I don’t want to be a Salesforce Admin) would the 211 be a waste?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 19, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Absolutely, David! A good developer will know what can be done with declarative development. If you don’t know what can and can’t be done declaratively, you’ll run into limits and replicate existing features with code which can have a negative impact on the org’s infrastructure. Even though you don’t want to be an admin, I think it’s a great place to start!

      Reply

      • David Austin

        August 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

        Thanks AdminHero for the Reply! So good to know. I still haven’t taken the test, but now I know at least this effort isn’t a waste before I move onto dev. I keep thinking I’m ready, take another practice test and not quite there.

        I’m glad there’s so many practice tests out there … big mistake thinking doing well on one means I’m ready. Each time I get better though. Another 12 hours of study I should be ready, get the 201 cert … then on to dev!

        Reply

  25. Vasanth

    July 19, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Hi Brent,

    I have Database Administration Career in the past and would like to switch to SALESFORCE ADMIN as my career.
    Could you please let me know where can I get the training either through BOOKS (being suggested with Authors) and also Online Help such as YouTube etc.

    Reply

  26. Ramesh Sanga

    August 1, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Hi Brent,

    Iam currently into Identity & Access Management domain (6+ years in Managerial role) & iam looking foward to take up ADM201 & ADM211. will it help me in taking up Managerial role in sales force.

    Regards,
    RK

    Reply

  27. SK Ramesh Kumar

    August 1, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Hi Brent,

    Iam currently into Identity & Access Management domain (6+ years in Managerial role) & iam looking foward to take up ADM201 & ADM211.

    will it help me in taking up Managerial role in sales force.

    Also suggest the correct sales force training & certification for Identity & Access Management & GIS profile

    Regards,
    RK

    Reply

  28. kiran

    August 1, 2016 at 12:44 am

    Hi Brent,
    I done i have 8+ years of experience in Sales now i want to stop the job in Sales and made come back into IT (I done MCA). I want to join sales force training and do the certification, so kindly suggest me what exactly i can do?

    Reply

  29. Satya

    August 4, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Bret,

    This maybe weird, apologize in advance but would need your help.

    This is my story, I am Program Manager working on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and want to pursue opportunities in Salesforce. I have not worked on it earlier but have a good functional knowledge on CRM.

    My question: Are there any certification for Salesforce Functional consultants and is it required to have prior experience on Salesforce ?

    Thanks,
    Satya

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 5, 2016 at 11:39 am

      I’m not really sure how a functional consultant could work without knowing the system they are consulting on, even if they aren’t doing the actual “construction” and build out of the application. Any and all certifications offered by Salesforce are appropriate for consultants, regardless of your level of hands-on involvement with building out the application.

      Reply

  30. Ritvik

    August 6, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Hi Brent,

    I am a MBA graduate and I have just begun my career(June 2016) as a functional consultant in crm domain. To go ahead with salesforce and build a successful career as a consultant, which certification would be best to go ahead with?

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 6, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I always think it’s best to start at the beginning! As a consultant, you can start with your Admin Certification, or jump right into the Consultant certification. Either way, you’ll more than likely earn them all!

      Reply

  31. Maria

    October 7, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Hi, Brent!

    Your article has been very helpful! I’m in a career transition and find that being experienced in Salesforce is just what I need! I have no previous background, but would like to be certified. I’ve been doing some research and start to understand what Salesforce is about…and it’s definitely something I would love to work with and be an asset to my employers.

    My question is, do I need BOTH ADM 201 and ADM201C to prepare for the certification exam? Also, do I need prior experience to be certified?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      October 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Experience isn’t necessary, but is very helpful! There is no requirement to take a training class before taking the exam but it does improve your changes (especially when first starting out). The more experience you have under your belt, the less likely you’ll need a training class (at least in my own experience).

      Reply

  32. salesforce for nonprofits

    October 24, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Hello Brent, thank you for sharing excellent guide. Like me, this guide is very helpful for all newbie salesforce developer. I am definitely gonna read every single point when I start my salesforce development.

    Thank you,
    Tom Wood

    Reply

  33. Chris Nwanze

    November 5, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Hello
    First let me say this article has been most enlightening and has contributed greatly in my decision to become a saleforce admin.
    I currently work in retail and customer service and i’m quite new to salesforce. i need advice on whether to get acclimatized with the classic or the lightening editions and which of them is and will be most relevant in the job field

    Reply

  34. Moyosore Fakeye

    November 12, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    When one is salesforce certified what needs to be done to keep the certification active. For example with the PMP every 3 years you need to do 60 hrs of education or training to stay certified. Is there such a scenario with the SF certs

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      November 19, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      Once certified, to keep it active, you’ll need to maintain it with each release. Salesforce has three releases a year, and each release has a shorter exam you’ll need to pass. It’s open book and open notes and can be done from home!

      Reply

  35. venkat

    December 13, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Hello Brent,

    Is salesforce good option for people who are new to IT field or from other professions who wanted to learn from scratch. Does a person’s age (say late 40s) will pose a problem in getting job.

    Reply

  36. Deeksha

    January 16, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Brent

    I have been certified as Salesforce adminstrator(201)…but the problem is I have no hands on for this I only know the concepts well which is why i am not able to apply anywhere for a job on this how would I overcome this

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      January 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Look for volunteer opportunities with local non profits. You could even volunteer at a for-profit but work pro bono in order to gain some experience. Connect with your local groups to network and find opportunities as well. I’m sure you’ll find something! Good luck!

      Reply

  37. Aakash

    January 26, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Hi Brent,

    I am going to appear for DEV 401 next month.
    Can you please suggest covering what all trailhead modules would cover up the major part asked in certification.

    Regards,
    Aakash

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      January 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Ooh, that’s a good question. There is not a specific trail for certifications so it’s a bit of everything. I would suggest getting the study guide from certification.salesforce.com and then review the topics you’ll be tested on with what’s available on Trailhead and then go from there. Good luck on your exam. I’m sure you’ll do great!

      Reply

  38. Parul

    January 27, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Hi Brent,

    I read your posts and likes them. I have worked on Siebel CRM for past 6 years and now wish to change to Salesforce as I find it very fascinating.
    I am not good at coding languages.. Like C++ , java or any.. What I understand by various posts is Admin role has less coding or no coding. Will that be a good choice over Saleforce developer??

    Kindly resolve my confusion.

    Regards

    Parul Tripathi

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 7, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Hey Parul! It really depends on what you want to do! You are correct in that the Admin role is typically less or no coding. So, if you don’t know a coding language, Admin is the way to go!

      Reply

  39. Trying to move to Developer

    February 2, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Brent,
    I read somewhere or may be heard in the sales force podcast that they have some training for the developer that can be access from the application that is free for the customer. Do you have any idea about that. If yes how that can be access? What level of licenses is need for it

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      There are multiple trainings that could have been referenced. Trailhead is free and can be accessed by customers and prospects alike. There’s also some training available to Premiere Support clients which can be found in the Help & Training section of Salesforce. This is only available to clients. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  40. Habib

    February 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Brent I tried to sign up for Trailhead for free access a few times and keep getting an email:
    Thank you for your interest in Salesforce.

    We were unable to complete your request at this time because Salesforce is currently upgrading the template used to sign up your organization. Please try again soon.

    Sincerely,

    Customer Support
    salesforce.com, inc.
    The Landmark @ One Market, Suite 300
    San Francisco, CA 94105

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Did you ever get this figured out? I haven’t had any issues accessing Trailhead. Perhaps try navigating to developer.force.com and setup an org there.

      Reply

  41. Mahesh

    February 14, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Hai Brent,
    I am a php developer, i don’t know about sale force CRM . can i change the Technology. can give me Suggestion.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

      I’m sure that you could change technologies, but I don’t know how relevant PHP development is in Salesforce. I’m sure the basic development skills would transfer, but you’ll probably need to learn additional languages.

      Reply

  42. PAMMY

    February 17, 2017 at 5:57 am

    hi brent…i have completed MBA with HR&Mkt in 2012 later i married ,i dont have any experience but now i want to take challenge as sales force admin.so am i eligible for this certification and job?do i need any job experience to get this job?can i apply as fresher?your blog is real inspirational so i need your advice please….

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 20, 2017 at 9:44 am

      There are no educational requirements needed to become a Salesforce Admin! But, you will need to apply yourself to learn the platform. Leverage things like Trailhead and YouTube to learn, and take a training course if possible so that you can get up to speed on the platform. Take your certification test and start applying to jobs! You’ve got this!

      Reply

  43. PAMMY

    February 17, 2017 at 6:04 am

    hi brent,
    your blog so inspirational and iam very impressed by your words so i need your advice.i have completed my MBA with HR&MKT in 2012 later i married.now i want to restart my career as SF admin but i dont gave any past experience on anything.so am i eligible for this certification and job?please give your suggestion to became as SF admin

    Reply

  44. Greg

    February 25, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Brent – great article. I’ll seek out more of your blogs. I’ve worked in various areas of IT for over 20 years now (LINC/COBOL programmer at Home Shopping, HR/Accting installation/training, MCT, CNA, System Engineer, Master Technical Instructor @ JD Edwards & Oracle (both admin and development tracks), and implementation project manager). I’ve taken that past couple of years off to oversee a complete home renovation and take a few years off the road to spend time with family. Now that my renovation is complete and my son is getting ready to go off to college, I’ve decided to reenter the workforce. I’ve consulted in dozens of industries, implementing countless verticals, but have never done worked with Salesforce or CRM. Since my skills are stale and I’m going to have to find a means to bring myself up to speed on a marketable software (and since I love a challenge), I’ve decided to teach myself Salesforce, starting with the developer track and then moving on to the admin side. I’m cheap, so I’ll eat up everything I can find on the internet, starting with Trailhead. Then I’ll consume everything I can find in the white papers and tech library. After that, I’ll find out if I require any additional training before taking the exams. Fortunately, I haven’t accepted a job yet, so I plan on spending 5 – 8 hours a day for the next month or so prepping.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles. Wish me luck.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      February 27, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Good luck in your quest for new skills, Greg! I think you’ll love Salesforce! Don’t neglect the Admin side for too long. I would actually say that you should know some of the basic admin functions before moving to the Developer track. There are platform basics that Developers and Admins need to know in order to work within the limits of the platform.

      Reply

  45. kimleonard

    February 27, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Salesforce certification is necessary for every salesforce consultant but requires to follow some guides. I hope that this guide helps a lot for those who are looking to get salesforce certificate!!

    Reply

  46. Promila

    March 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Thanks Brent
    your post came right on time.

    Reply

  47. John

    March 8, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Brent,

    This really is fantastic advice. I will be sure to visit the site regularly. I am a young professional less than out of college and into my career. I have been working at a B2B Marketing services corporation for some time and have been engulfed in the world of Marketing. I hope to get on a track that will soon enough lead me to a role as a CRM manager.

    With this being my intent, Can you speak to which certifications I should be targeting? Should I looki into passing ADM201 and ADM211 first, and then moving towards Marketing Cloud certifications?

    Thank you again for the post!
    John

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      April 29, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Hey John! It really depends on what your ultimately want to do. The marketing certifications don’t require much in the way of Salesforce specific knowledge (to my understanding; I haven’t taken any marketing certs). So, if you want to focus on marketing, I would start there then go back to the Admin certs later on. Good luck!

      Reply

  48. Stephen

    March 22, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Sounds like a great certificate to add if your organization uses sales force. I have a much better idea now what benefits a Sales Force certification offers now. Thanks for the guide!

    Reply

  49. Jason B

    April 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for this post, Brent. (It obviously continues to help people after a couple of years!) My question is around expectations for prep. I currently am in a Salesforce training role with a business unit full of salespeople. I actually was a part of the SF implementation on this team and helped match up the tool with the business process. We have been in SF for almost two years.

    With that said, I’m hoping I can use Trailhead and some free online tools and be ready in a couple of months.

    1 – Does that sound realistic with my current experience? I can make my way around SF pretty easily but I know that the Admin Certification is the next level.

    2 – Do you think the Admin Certification would have value to someone in a SF Training role?

    I understand if you don’t have time to answer, but thanks for the article(s) at the very least.

    Jason B
    Nashville, TN

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      April 29, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Hi Jason! Yes, the Admin cert would help a LOT while training users because it will get you more into the system than what business process outlines and you can speak more to the feature set of Salesforce. Just remember that the Admin cert is very broad on it’s content so be sure to focus all areas. Trailhead is a good resource but not nearly enough to clear the exam. Honestly, Help & Training is the best free resource (used in conjunction with the admin study guide). Good luck!

      Reply

      • Jason B

        May 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Brent! I think I’m going to move forward with this and start prepping soon. Just have to get my boss to ok some work hours for the prep. 🙂

        Reply

  50. Ramakrishna

    May 10, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you Brent it was really helpful for me as I’m preparing to join Salesforce. Just wanted to ask a question that ADM201certification is enough to join salesforce or do I need to go for both ADM201 and ADM211. Thank you for a great article.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      May 16, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      Technically, you don’t need any certifications to start working in the Salesforce ecosystem, but they go a long way to getting hired! 201 would be sufficient, but the more certs you have (in general) the more marketable you are.

      Reply

  51. Maninder

    May 16, 2017 at 4:24 am

    Hi Brent

    The post is wonderful and answered a lot of questions that were in my mind. However, I still have a question regarding the Prerequisites for ADM201.

    I do not have any prior experience in Salesforce but I would like to step into SF world by getting an ADM201 cert so that I can get eligible for jobs that require saleforce admin certs.

    How important are these courses which are in recommended list on http://certification.salesforce.com/administrator

    Administration Essentials for New Admins (ADM 201),
    Administration Essentials for New Administrators and Certification (ADM 201C),
    and Salesforce Proficiency Pack for Admins are recommended

    Also on Study guide I saw these as another set of prerequisites:

    The candidate should successfully complete the Administration Essentials course (ADM201) from Salesforce or an Authorized Training Center or possess the equivalent experience and knowledge prior to taking the exam.

    Additionally, the candidate should have six or more months of experience as a Salesforce Administrator and should be able to successfully perform the tasks outlined in the exam objectives

    Do you think it is meaningful to prepare for exam even if I do not have industry experience in admin roles?

    Thank you

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      May 16, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Salesforce doesn’t validate these prerequisites (as far as I know), but from my own experience, the classes and some experience will help tremendously! The Admin Cert is fairly difficult because of the breadth of content it covers. Salesforce will test your knowledge of the platform, and they will test to see if you know the right approach baed on a situation. Not every approach is the right one. One approach may have downstream circumstances as a result.

      I would highly suggest you take the ADM 201 course if you are totally new to the industry. I remember learning a lot from this class as a brand new admin. Lots of good tips and tricks in addition to certification specific information. There are equivalent classes you can find from other vendors which may be cheaper, but be sure to vet them well if they aren’t coming from Salesforce.

      Reply

  52. Arvind

    June 26, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Hi Brent

    I am B.com graduate and I am working professional as prosess associate( Team member ) in private company. Can I get trained under salesforce to become Admin. I want to learn Salseforce. How it will help to get job in salesforce as I am B.com graduate and I don’t have coding language knowledge. Please suggest me.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      June 27, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      What’s awesome is that you don’t need to have a technical background to get started with Salesforce! Check out my post “5 Steps to Jump Start Your Salesforce Career.” It will walk you through everything you need to know!

      Reply

      • Arvind

        June 29, 2017 at 2:52 am

        Thanks

        Hi Brent,

        For salseforce devloper, is technical background( java or any coding ) is necessary. Or anyone can become devloper after completion of Admin course. And in interview will they ask for technical education background?

        Please suggest me.

        Reply

        • Brent Downey

          July 6, 2017 at 5:25 pm

          You bet! I think the Admin cert is the best option to start with then you can go from there!

          Reply

  53. Ala

    July 7, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Hi Brent, Thanks for coming up and sharing such an excellent article! I’m based in UK and working as a Business Analyst with background from Banking Payments and Finance – Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting. I’m thinking of specializing into Salesforce.com Business Analyst and would like to see if you can provide your thoughts that may really helpful for me to choose right career path? Thanks in advance.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

      That’s great Ala! You’re existing skill set would translate well to Salesforce. The key, I think, is to learn the basics of Salesforce. Focus on the Admin Certification, and become really familiar with the reporting structure of Salesforce. Understand object relationships, and you’ll be well on your way! Also, check out Trailhead for some hands on learning!

      Reply

      • Ala

        July 23, 2017 at 3:25 am

        Hi Brent, Much appreciated and thank you very much for taking your time to respond.

        Reply

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